Bring your virtual enterprise to new heights
I launched my remote business, the Live Lingua online language school, out of complete necessity in 2009 due to the Mexican swine flu pandemic.
Before the swine flu outbreak, my wife and I managed a brick-and-mortar language immersion school in Mexico. However, we digitally transformed our business to survive the crisis and started offering online lessons via video chat. This was so successful that we decided to sell our physical school and focus solely on growing Live Lingua. Fast forward over a decade, and Live Lingua is now one of the largest online language schools in the world. It has been an entirely virtual enterprise since Day 1.
If you, too, have always managed a virtual business — or if you had to adopt remote operations in light of the COVID-19 pandemic — you may be wondering how you can improve your company. Throughout my journey with Live Lingua, I’ve learned a thing or two about how to manage and grow a remote company successfully. Here are communication and operational strategies that will help you improve how you lead your remote team and boost the overall success of your enterprise.
Set times for open communication
Since your business is fully remote, your team members may not know if their colleagues are focused on finishing projects by their deadlines or other deep work that requires their utmost attention. Thus, your team members may unknowingly instant message or email a colleague right when that person needs to be completely free of all distractions. As the leader of your business, you need to prevent this pitfall that can stifle workflow and impede your business’s overall progression. You can counter this by setting specific times for open communication.
Setting times for open communication will allow your remote team members to stay in touch and prevent interrupting. For example, let your team members know that unless it is urgent, they should only send Slack messages and emails to each other from 11 am to 11:30 am and then in the afternoon from 3 pm to 3:30 pm. Setting times for open communication will help your team stay on track and focused on their projects while also making them easier to manage.
Set and track your business’s goals
As the leader of your company, you must set clear and measurable weekly, monthly, and quarterly goals for each of your team members and ensure that you track them regularly. If you don’t do this, all of your employees may have the wrong idea of the amount of sales they should get each month, the dates by which they need to complete steps in a major project, how many leads they should be securing each week from their marketing efforts, etc.
For example, you can let your employees know that they should aim to send out 100 marketing emails a month or secure 10 client contracts a quarter. It is crucial that you get input from every team member on their respective goals and their plans to achieve them. You can track progress by having a quick video chat with each of your team members every Monday morning, where you go over project statuses and the plans for the week. This will keep your team members accountable for their projects.
Outline clear lines of communication
In a fully remote business, wires can get crossed, and team members can accidentally email the wrong person to ask about a certain task or share a project update, etc. This can cause a lot of time-wasting, back-and-forth discussions between team members as they ask others for answers or try to figure out who the best person to contact is. Thus, set clear lines of communication that dictate who to ask or tell about what.
You can designate one person on your team to handle internal questions related to sales orders, one team member to reach out to with inquiries about a specific client, one team member who can handle questions about a major long-term project… the list goes on. This avoids confusion and reduces the need for you to micromanage everything.
Ensure your remote team knows the mission
When running a remote operation, it’s not like your team members can pop by your office to ask questions about a project. Your remote team may also be across time zones, and you might not always be at your computer to answer an email from them right away. That said, help your team members make decisions without waiting on you by ensuring they know the company’s mission and vision. This will help guide them, as they will know their choices need to be in the interest of moving the business forward towards achieving its overall mission.
Trust your team
You hired each of your remote team members because you knew they were reliable and had the skill set needed to excel in their positions. Therefore, trust that they will do the work they’re assigned and don’t over-manage them. If you are constantly looking over everybody’s shoulder and trying to micromanage everything, it will only cause your team members to get frustrated and stressed out. Instead, let them do their work and focus on what you need to focus on: how you can help the company progress towards achieving its mission and vision.
Managing a fully remote enterprise is very different than leading a company with in-office operations. You can better manage your virtual business by setting times for open communication and planning/tracking your company’s goals. Also, outline clear lines of communication, make sure your team members are well aware of the business’s overall mission and vision, and trust that they will do their jobs. Following all of these tips will help your remote enterprise continually grow and reach new levels of success.
5 Tried-and-True Tips for Better Managing Your Remote Business was originally published in Entrepreneur’s Handbook on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.