This post is an excerpt from my book DISTRIBUTED.
There are two options to evaluate your current business for remote setup, both of them are very straightforward. I start with the easier one.
How to evaluate when you are just starting your business
If your business is just starting or about to launch, you have a clean slate. If your business sells goods/services online and/or manages or willing to manage all the processes through tools accessible online, then it’s easy: you are good to go remote. Simple is that. If you are a web developer/designer/marketing agency who’s just launching – go remote on the first day. If you are an e-commerce business or a SaaS, try to go fully remote on day one. Seriously, you have a) no employees yet who might not like the distributed idea; b) you have initial setup costs that can be lowered with this model; c) you will have access to an unlimited talent and prospects pool right from the start. If you are just starting to build your business, I can’t imagine a situation where you would benefit more than choosing the distributed model. A starting business needs flexibility and has a shorter time to grow due to the limited runway in cashflow and capital – the distributed business model will provide you that flexibilityand as it also allows you to access the global market without limitations on location, it will shorten your time to succeed.
How to evaluate when you already have a business
Let's see the second option: you have an established business with a proven track record but with an on-site office and a team in place – that’s a different story. You need to evaluate your business more carefully and find the points where the distributed model can fit in. Here is a simple walkthrough on how to do it.
Do you have full support from the key departments (finance, HR, management) to implement a distributed business model? You have to make sure you have fully backed by all the internal stakeholders in your company or your efforts will blood out at the beginning.
Do you have support from your employees? Can they work online with others? Are they willing to manage projects and other people online? Or for instance, are there any team members who want to go remote once this model is implemented to your company? If your team is not ready, that means you have to work on them to make them ready. If you have full support from the key stakeholders, you can move mountains to make sure that they are ready to switch.
Are your clients ready to work with you and your distributed team? As an already established business, you probably have clients and customers already and they got used to a way how you work with them. Will they be able to work with you remotely? You have to make sure your new business model won’t cause any churns or at least, it will be a minimized loss in terms of clients/customers.
Now that you made sure everyone’s onboard, you have to make sure you are onboard. Your mindset has to be ready to deal with pretty new situations. What I always suggest: collect as much information as possible. You are already reading this article, which is great, but you need to play with the tools that help you to manage your distributed team. You need to know everything about how to run a solid business online and you have to stay confident in front of your team. You also have to be super flexible in changing tracks quickly. You have to be OK to fire remote employees quickly, to shut down projects ASAP and to switch tools that can help even more for your team.
Put your business up on the whiteboard. Draw all the members of your team into a structure and visualize the business processes that take place when your company conducts business. Make prioritizations: what is essential to operate 0-24 and what has the option to malfunction for a few days. These weaker links will be your points where you can focus on implementing the distributed model first. If you are a digital agency and have 10 developers and 1 of them is underperforming, you can replace this developer with a new one but this time with a remote employee. Or if you have a full pipeline of clients, you can switch your sales and marketing to a remote marketing team. It gives you leverage and time to adapt to the new situation.
Once you did all the steps, you can approach to implementation. But before you do so, you can still minimize your risk by pivoting the business model with small tests. In this way, you can check if your business is ready for the switch, but you don’t risk everything on the decision.
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At Anywhere Consulting, we help entrepreneurs to launch, build and grow their remote business. We provide support and consulting services as well as educational products to overcome the challenges of remote businesses. If you are a freelancer who wants to launch a distributed business or you already have an established business but want to grow remotely, we can help you.