How to Effectively Manage a Remote Team as a Small Business Owner

Working from home is a great benefit for both employees and business owners. It opens up larger talent pools for companies to source individuals from and allows people the opportunity to stay in one place rather than relocate to another. But despite its various benefits, remote work can still have its own set of problems.

While working from home, it can be hard to get everyone on the same page. As a business owner it’s vital to stay on top of your remote team and the responsibilities associated with it. Here are a variety of ways you can streamline your remote team’s process, so you can manage your team effectively.

1. Create Communication Channels

Going hours without speaking or messaging someone on your team is not a good sign, especially when you have team members working from home. If you’re not actively communicating with one another, you will have no clue where a project may be in production.

That’s why constant communication is one of the most important aspects of managing a remote team. When people worked in a traditional office setting it was easy to turn around or walk over to their workspace to talk about a problem or discuss a change. Now that your team is located in different places or even time zones, you need to have multiple platforms for communication.

While it seems like a given for remote work to have an instant messaging and video conference channel, select one that’s right for you and your work situation. If there is a free tool that will do everything you need, you can save some money for your business. Slack, Zoom, and Google Chat are common platforms for daily communication between remote employees.

Aside from conversation tools, also consider project management ones that team members can share materials on or mark the progress on a task. Software like Hive, Asana, and Trello allows your team to check off completed work or share materials with one another. Whichever tool you decide to use, make sure everyone understands how to operate it.

2. Set Daily Expectations

Goals are necessary for a variety of business operations, one of which is daily expectations. If your team doesn’t have a goal for the day, how is anything supposed to be completed? Now, each department is different when it comes to the everyday task to finish. For instance, an HR team will have a different focus than a writing team. It’s up to you, the manager, to work with your employees to establish what needs to be done by the end of each business day.

Start small when making a task list for your team. Maybe, in the beginning, it’s just logging their timecard. Once you’ve developed that steady rhythm, work with each individual and their working style to create larger daily expectations.

Every individual is unique in what they can accomplish in a day. While one employee can churn out multiple tasks and juggle different projects, another may want to focus on one thing for the week. That’s why you need to meet and learn about your individual team members, so you can play to people’s strengths and get things done.

3. Remember That We’re Humans

Unfortunately, the entire workforce has not become robots, yet. What that means for you is that burnout still occurs with your teams, especially when they are remote. Working from home can still often involve traveling to clients. These factors, amongst others, can lead to burnout and other negative health effects. For you as a leader, set the parameters and example for your team by shutting off from work at the end of the day. However, this doesn’t mean you log off every day at the same time, just differentiate circumstances such as a critical deadline.

It’s not just work deadlines you need to consider in your team’s daily lives. People have kids, hobbies, partners, emergencies, pets, personal lives, and other outside-of-work things that can pop up unexpectedly. If you haven’t already, create a leaving work for emergencies policy book or guidelines for your team. That way employees know the proper protocol for how to report their emergency and what qualifies as one. Situations like these pop out of nowhere, and can be frustrating, but remember your people come first, not the job.

4. Build Fun Opportunities

All work and no play are not conducive to keeping a remote team motivated. Take a break every few weeks or perhaps after a project is done to celebrate and relax a little. Virtual happy hours and other team bonding experiences became popular when the COVID-19 pandemic first made many businesses go remote. But now it’s time to bring back these virtual games to break up the workload and build bonds between teams.

Scavenger hunting, cooking, show and tell, or virtual home tours are all ways to get to know each other and not talk shop for a little bit. Ask your team if there’s an activity they want to do or if someone wants to lead a session. You’ll be surprised at what hobbies or skills people have outside of work. Kicking back to relax and just chatting is okay to do as well. Just mark time on your calendar every few weeks for fun activities like this to help your team unwind.

Closing Notes

Managing a remote team can seem daunting some days, but it doesn’t have to be the case. Using the right communication tools, setting daily expectations, remembering that everyone is human, and scheduling time for fun are all ways to make a team unit run efficiently. At the end of the day, your business’s success depends on your employees, and working together with them will help your end goals.

READ NEXT: CREATING HIGH PERFORMING SALES TEAMS

Guest Blogger Brian Thomas is a contributor to Enlightened Digital. He enjoys reading and researching tech and business. When he’s not looking into the latest trends, you can find him out cycling.

4 Tips for Startup Business Success

The majority of the difficulties in starting a business depend on doing the little things correctly. Any good coach will tell you at some point that the fundamentals are what get you to the top. There are many factors that play a huge role in the making and success of a business. So, if you are considering starting a business, here’s some important business success tips to follow:

1. Be data obsessed.

The more data you can track, the better your business decisions you’ll be able to make. Business always demands some “gut feel” decisions, but it is smarter to inform your gut as much as possible with all available facts.

Tracking key performance indicators for your company and understanding why they rise or fall can help you make decisions that will help your company grow and stay on track. By creating systems to provide you all the important and accurate data you need, you will ultimately make your business run smoother because you’ll be able to make better decisions each step of the way.

Be sure to have databases of people you interact with, that includes their names, job titles, business phone number, or even client’s feedback so that your decisions in the future will be based on all the information you have collected over time.

2. Pay attention to online reviews about your business.

Your business is “always on” even if you just operate from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Every company should set up Google alerts to monitor what their customers are saying about them, their competitors, and the market in general. Google Alerts is a fantastic and free tool for “listening” online. Be the first to know when a customer leaves a negative review or when someone praises your company online. Use these methods to remain ahead of the conversation and capitalize on it.

3. Be aware of your competitors.

Both your direct and indirect competitive options must be known and understood. You should continually be aware of your competitors’ activities, including what they are doing, how they market, and how they price their products. You may be the only one of your kind in your town or industry, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have indirect competitors.

RELATED ARTICLE: MAKE YOUR SMALL BUSINESS STAND OUT FROM THE COMPETITION

4. Have a greater goal: a strong mission.

People prefer to work for companies that are more than just a money-making machine. That’s not to say you can’t have sales or profit targets; it just means that if your employees feel like they’re part of something bigger, they’ll work harder and be more loyal. Customers also like to buy from companies that they believe have integrity and a valuable mission.

Here is an example of my own mission statement of why helping entrepreneurs matters https://www.paramountbusinesscoach.com/about-yoon-cannon/why-it-matters/

Certainly, there is way more advice I don’t have the space in this short article that go into making a startup business successful, but use these four starter tips to help you take some baby steps forward.

Overall, today’s business requires flexibility as well as solid planning and organizing skills. Many people start a business with the expectation of turning on their computers or opening their doors and immediately producing money, only to discover that making money in business is far more difficult than they anticipated.

You can avoid this in your business operations by taking the time to seek out experts to give you invaluable advice, feedback, support to coach you to success. Investing in yourself early on in your business will save you hundreds of thousands of dollars of costly mistakes, not to mention save you from years of struggling and spinning your wheels.

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QUESTION: What question can I answer for you next about growing your startup business? Share your comments and questions below.

Managing a Productive Hybrid-Remote Work Force for SMB Owners

As an entrepreneur, you’ve likely dealt with some unimaginable circumstances and challenging decisions over the course of the pandemic. Although the last few years might have been filled with some extreme lows, both professionally and personally, there’s still a light at the end of the tunnel.

Entrepreneurs, such as yourself, now have an opportunity to reinvent and grow their businesses in ways never considered before. By taking advantage of this new perspective, you can set yourself apart from other companies and invest in one of the most important components of the business – your people. If you’re looking for some helpful ways to show your remote or hybrid workforce that your company is worth investing their energy and future in, keep reading along.

Encourage Work-Life Balance

The pandemic has certainly heightened the need to be able to maintain a balance between work, family, personal obligations, and caring for our own health. Of course, this has always been something of value to individuals and professionals, but not at the same frequency it is now. From employees with aging parents unable to risk a trip to the grocery store, to parents of young children with changing school schedules, employees need the flexibility to adapt their careers to their life, not the other way around.

Supporting a flexible work arrangement as an employer is more critical than ever before and establishes trust within the employer/employee relationship. When employees are given the freedom, they need to be successful in their personal lives, it makes it easier and more enjoyable for them to be motivated and productive during their working hours. Rather than feeling stressed and anxious about a personal obligation, with flexible hours they can step away from their work for an hour and make up that time when they’re feeling calm and focused.

Adjust Benefits to Support Employees and Families

With the personal and professional lifestyle changes brought about by COVID-19, employee benefits should be reviewed and adjusted accordingly. According to the American Psychological Association, one-third of Americans developed mental health issues related to working from home coupled with the stress of the pandemic. Consider rethinking employee benefits to better suit their needs in this post-pandemic world. For example, enhance your well-being benefits to cover flexible schedules, caregiving, financial well-being, and mental health services. Whether it be online therapy, a life coach, or simply a way to navigate new challenges, evolving benefits will positively impact the way employees work.

Hold Financial Literacy Training

Financial issues have been increasingly prevalent because of the various changes in employment, pay, childcare, and so on. That said, your employees might feel strapped when it comes to making financial decisions that impact their future. Providing virtual training that allows employees who’re both remote or hybrid to continue building their financial literacy can help them feel empowered in their daily lives and more satisfied professionally. Employees might be wondering if they need to start setting more money aside and building an emergency fund for difficult times. This is recommended by financial professionals in general, but especially over the last few years, it’s been clear that you can never be too prepared.

Others might be looking to grow their family and, with that, are looking to purchase their very first home, upsize, or move. Employees might be uninformed about how to get preapproved for a mortgage, especially if this is their first time investing in the market. Providing resources that outline the documentation needed to start the process, when to get preapproved, and how long the period lasts is all helpful information that can guide them in coordinating their next steps with less stress.

Create Team Bonding Opportunities

Team bonding is a great way to inspire connections and get to know your employees on a more personal level. Even if it’s partially virtual, having conversations and activities that go beyond work deliverables and sales discussions is extremely beneficial for the company at large. Of course, building a strong professional team is key to your success as an entrepreneur. With that being said, to continue to foster those relationships, it’s helpful to know your people both personally and professionally.

Don’t leave it all up to your employees, as a business leader and entrepreneur you should also get involved in team bonding experiences. Host a trivia night, scavenger hunt, recipe swap, or happy hour. If you have a hybrid workforce that comes into the office on certain days you can schedule a field day at a local park, a hike, or a team picnic outside. The point is to simply make room for communication outside the walls of the office and create more personal relationships.

Establish Open Communication and Organizational Transparency

When times are tough or uncertain, employees want to feel like they can trust their employer to be empathetic to their changing needs. Establishing an environment where employees feel comfortable asking questions and voicing concerns is healthy for everyone. Creating a transparent work culture comes with some effort required, but it’s more than worthwhile. If your employees don’t feel they can trust you, there might not be a long-term relationship formed between the two, and therefore you’ll experience some issues with retention. Providing your company with regular financial updates that showcase the health of the business as well as being transparent when it comes to new opportunities in the company, changes in leadership, promotions, problems, and so on will help your people feel connected and involved.

Invest in Coaching Leadership

Leadership can make or break your success as a business owner. If you have strong, effective leadership, you’re likely to run a much smoother operation and experience positive growth. If you have employees who don’t like or respect management and other members of your leadership team, you’re bound to run into turmoil.

By investing in proper training for current and future managers, you can establish a better system of trust and authority. In addition, expanding leadership’s knowledge of the different types of workflows and support needed by some employees can be beneficial. If leaders can understand their team and the way they work, they can create a schedule that allows them to be productive without unnecessary stress. Most individuals aren’t natural-born leaders, and even if they do a great job, there is always room for improvement.

Prioritize Employee Recognition

According to Forbes, a happier team is not only more creative and energized but they actually have the ability to get more work done! The key to productivity is happy employees which translates to improved customer service, efficiency, and satisfied customers. According to Tanner Learning Group, 79% of employees leave their place of work because they don’t feel appreciated. This makes sense, but the numbers are truly astounding. By simply taking the initiative to create a recognition system, regularly checking in with your employees, and asking them how you can make them feel more valued, this number can be drastically reduced.

It’s no secret that happy employees make for a successful business. Although this is true, it’s much easier said than done when addressing the needs of every employee, increasing productivity, satisfying customers, and making your company a great place to work. By slowly implementing some of this protocol into your remote or hybrid workplace, you can begin taking steps towards those goals and seeing the positive impact on your employees.

How to Come Up with a Great Business Idea (Part 2)

With a job market that’s in a continual state of flux, many entrepreneurial-minded professionals are thinking of a great business idea and looking for ways to earn extra money on the side, sometimes supplementing income lost through downsizing, layoffs, or being underemployed. Chances are, you have a lot of marketable skills you might not have realized could be potential moneymakers. A little bit of research can put you on the path to making your mark in the gig economy. 

 

How To Monetize Your Skill Sets – What Can You Do?

Sit down and make a list of all the things you’re skilled at. You could consider skill sets learned through prior training, education, job experience, or even hobbies you enjoy. For example, if you’ve always been a math whiz, tutoring might be a revenue stream.

If you’re a marketing or social media guru, you could hire yourself out as a corporate consultant. If you’re an exceptional cook or baker, you may find a calling working as a caterer or event planner.

Assess all of your skills, talents, and the things you enjoy doing and consider the monetary potential behind applying those skills to revenue generation.

job-boardConsider What’s In Demand

If you’re a multi-talented person, you might be best served to explore opportunities in fields that are in high demand and finding a way to capitalize on them. For example, according to Entrepreneur, if you search online job boards, you’re likely to get a good feel for the type of services people typically hire out for.

This could be anything from bookkeeping to personal assisting, pet care, mystery shopping, automotive repair, child care, landscaping, or interior design.

Doing a bit of research will help you recognize not only skills that are easy to monetize, but Nolo points out you’ll also get a feel for what others in similar occupations charge for their services.

RELATED BLOG ARTICLE: The New Elevator Pitch – How to Introduce Yourself So People Engage

Establish A Great Business

Whether you decide to freelance for a couple of hours a week as a side gig or launch a full-fledged operation, you’re wise to establish yourself as a small business owner. This includes deciding on a corporate structure, like a sole proprietor or limited liability company.

You’ll also need to write a business plan, get a business license, set up a business bank account, create a website and basic marketing materials, and establish a presence on social media.

Going through all of these steps will allow you to present yourself in a professional way that will help you attract customers.

RELATED BLOG ARTICLE: 4 Small Business Planning Tips to Increase Profits

 

Go Back To School

online-educationIf you’re interested in learning a new skill or further developing an existing one, consider going back to school for a business degree as a way to expand your professional opportunities.

Online educational offerings not only provide a wide variety of learning modalities, but you also have the benefit of being able to study from anywhere, often on your own timetable.

This allows you to work, care for children, and build your business, all while advancing your education. Grants, scholarships, and loans can help you finance your educational journey.

 

Buy Into A Franchise

If you’re interested in being a business owner, but you aren’t sure where to start, what to do, or how to operate, you might consider looking at franchise opportunities. Buying into ownership of an established and recognizable brand can provide the blueprint you need for small business operations.

It’s wise to conduct your due diligence in advance so you have a solid understanding of the pros and cons of various franchise opportunities before moving ahead. In particular, exploring financing options will help you make the most informed decisions.

Learn To Network

business-idea-networkOnce you decide what you’d like to do, building a customer base is the first priority. You can join chambers of commerce, Rotary clubs, small business development centers, or other networking groups in your area.

According to Copper Connection, this can help you secure leads, make connections, and network with those in your industry and in adjacent industries.

Once you start building a clientele, ask for referrals from happy customers as a way to continue building your operations. Customer service will be important to establishing a good reputation in your industry.

 

RELATED BLOG ARTICLE: How to Generate More Leads and Sales from Your Website – Top Bloggers Share What’s Working Now

Manage Your Financial Resources

It can be a tricky prospect to manage your finances when you’re working a side hustle or attempting to launch a small business operation. Create budgets and marketing agendas, keep good records, and give careful consideration to both income and expenditures to ensure you’re moving in the right direction from a financial perspective. You don’t want to make the mistake of taking on so much work that you’re unable to service all clients in a professional manner.

 

While it can be a challenge looking for new revenue streams when you’re underemployed or need to supplement your income, taking advantage of your own personal skill sets can open a number of doors to new, financially viable opportunities. 

Paramount Business Coach can help you narrow the focus of your business-generating options and help you develop a plan of action for moving forward. Book a free consultation or reach out for more information on the benefits of business coaching.

How to Come Up With a Great Business Idea Part 1

Thinking of a good business idea is tough. Do you want to start a business, but have no idea what you would enjoy doing that’s also profitable? When it comes to running a profitable business, you want to come up with a great product or service idea that solves a problem a lot of people have whether it’s a big or small problem. 

 

At the same time, you’ll also want to consider what kinds of things you are good at and what kinds of things you enjoy for your long-term happiness with your day-to-day life. There’s no sense diving into a fruitful endeavor if it’s going to make you miserable. You’d end up procrastinating because it won’t feel like fun, but drudgery.

 

Here are 4 tips to help you in figuring out a good business idea and how to meet in the middle of career satisfaction and reliable profit margins. 

1. Undergo Self Evaluation

self-evaluationWith the goal being to start a business idea that you don’t find cumbersome, you’ll need to begin with a look inward. This isn’t a process you have to do blindly either. Don’t be afraid to explore personality quizzes, strength quizzes, career tests, or other kinds of assessments to get third-party input. This way, with the more information you collect about yourself, you should start to get a very clear picture of the kinds of things that you’d find suitable in a day-to-day role or even what industries you’d excel in. 

For example, CliftonStrengths is a personality quiz that helps you identify which of the 34 identified personality traits are your strongest top 5. Once they’ve discovered these, they share explanations of the strengths, as well as what kind of work or industry goes best with it. The descriptions go on to include other personality traits that you’d work well within others. This could really come in handy when you get to the stage of hiring people to work with you.

Compare the results of the assessment against your previous work or educational experiences to brainstorm possible industries you’re interested in, compatible with, and of course the tasks you know you’ve enjoyed in the past. This will put together a baseline of good business ideas before you start to narrow in on your future business.

RELATED BLOG ARTICLE: Are Your Thoughts Boosting or Killing Your Sales?

2. Identify Problems In Your Day

identify-problemsNow that you have a little direction, you’ll want to find a more specific space in the marketplace that you can corner. When business owners are assessing their value proposition, what they are really asking is: how well am I able to solve my target audiences’ problem? 

To reverse engineer a value proposition, you could consider the biggest pain points in your day and think about how they could be improved or solved altogether. For Gopuff co-founder Yakir Gola, who was the only car-owner in his college friend group, that one problem sparked an industry-disrupting innovation. Who wants to constantly be called on by all your friends when they need to buy groceries or run down to the convenience store? It led to the question, what if the convenience store could come to you? Now for people without vehicles or those short on time, it can. 

Finding a very specific need like this for a business idea ensures that people will buy into your product or service. It will be up to you to keep your customers coming back. Solve their problems well and brand loyalty will create a long-lasting revenue stream over time.

RELATED BLOG ARTICLE: Surprisingly Easy Way to Get More Referrals

3. Ask Friends and Family

askIf it’s not your own experiences you draw from, perhaps your friends or family have been through situations that can spark a business idea. Not only will this give you a place to finally jump off from, but it can provide you with a group of people to test out your business on.

Going this route, you know you have customers that trust you right from the inception, and they likely would be happy serving as guinea pigs if it means they get to watch and share in your success. 

This kind of early and immediate buy-in can be a huge help to launching the business and creating marketable materials to pitch the value proposition to others in need of your company.

4. Understand Local Niches

nicheAnother source of business ideas and inspiration can be your local environment. What are the needs within your immediate community? Is there any tourism-related business that can be tapped into? Are you a small town with one busy road running through it that might be able to break up long trips for drivers who need a rest stop? Or maybe the problem is that there isn’t much to do in your town at all and people need something entertaining to do. 

Cross-evaluate these possible opportunities with what you’ve learned about yourself from the self-reflection stage and you might just find a point where they intersect. This is a very important step because any of those businesses could or would work but you want to also get fulfillment out of the work you’re setting yourself up for.

 

All of this advice is not to say the process won’t produce its challenges. You may start feeling absolutely certain of one idea only to end up going in a completely different direction. That’s normal and part of the process. 

RELATED BLOG ARTICLE: Stepping off the Ground: Your Next StartUp Biz Step

You need to be able to know when to push or when to pivot. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, just bring it all back to the center of the Venn diagram and simplify things for yourself. What problem would you enjoy solving for other people for years to come? If you can identify that answer quickly, trust your gut and take the plunge. Starting your business will be the most worthwhile endeavor.

 

QUESTION:

Where specifically do you get stuck in trying to come up with a great business idea you can start?

Share your comments and questions below.