Let’s face it – most business owners are doing the jobs of several departments just to keep things moving at a steady pace. However, eventually, there always comes a day when you realize that you can’t do it all on your own. Learning how to scale your business is an essential tactic to ensure that your company is able to grow while maintaining a high level of quality service and commitment to your customers.
Did you know that 40% of companies outsource some aspect of business operations? Building a virtual team has numerous benefits including helping to improve your business or customer focus, reduce costs, conserve resources such as time and energy and accelerate company transformation.
However, it’s extremely difficult to find success in scaling your business through outsourcing if you don’t have a structured approach to follow. As a result, we’ve created this article to give you a list of 10 tips to help you along your journey of scaling your business with the help of a virtual team.
1. Don’t outsource where you can automate.
When brainstorming ways to scale your business with the help of a virtual team, it’s imperative that you consider areas of opportunity in the workflow process for automation.
Tim Draper, venture capitalist and founder of Draper Associates identifies areas for automation by getting his core team together to focus on what they’re doing that is repetitive. Then, they look for automated solutions that can perform the task “as well or better, while delivering exceptional customer service”.
“We’ve had great success in taking menial tasks like sorting and responding to emails and automating them. This enhanced rather than harmed the customer experience.”
Identifying areas for automation can help you generate the best ROI when it comes to recruiting your virtual team by enabling them to focus on more significant responsibilities in order to have the greatest impact.
2. Identify key areas where a virtual team will benefit you most.
Many people think of the concept of leveraging the power of a virtual team, they immediately conceive of hiring individuals to oversee menial tasks such as scheduling, emails, database management and customer service support. However, responding to emails, updating databases and managing many customer support functions can be automated. Likewise, you may find your business in fact benefits most from you personally handling certain tasks you are considering outsourcing such as scheduling and client acquisition.
Identifying areas where a virtual team will benefit you most in your efforts to strategically scale your business is going to be imperative to your success in this venture.
The key is to focus not on tasks you don’t want to do, but in your ability to identify areas where you find you are truly lacking in skill and recruiting talent adept at handling those functions which directly impact growth in ways that you are incapable of.
3. Embrace a mentality of mentorship vs. micro-managing.
Take it from Sam Walton, founder of Walmart, who said, "The best management style is not to micromanage…it's to look over the shoulder."
Let’s face it, you’re used to a certain degree of control over your processes. However, you’re going to have to get comfortable with letting go of the reigns and promoting a certain degree of autonomy to your virtual team members.
While your first instinct may be to double down, research shows that micro-managing leads to decreased employee morale, performance and productivity and only serves to illuminate a leader’s lack of trust in their staff and their own leadership capabilities.
4. Be proactive and establish an environment conducive to success.
Chances are you may not yet have a well-defined, documented workflow process. This may be acceptable for you in your current state, as you have an innate understanding of the intricacies of your business and its internal processes – but this is not the case for your future virtual team members.
A key to creating scalability is workflow consistency. Assigning project management tasks via email one day, Skype another and Google Docs the next or having an inconsistent and unpredictable schedule will only create chaos as your business begins to expand. You must standardize your processes and create a structured, consistent environment for work. Be proactive and provide your virtual team with the best atmosphere possible in order to achieve success.
5. Consider any necessary legal documents.
Before you begin the recruitment process, you’ll want to evaluate you need for various legal documents. Is there confidential information about your business processes that you wish to remain secure? Courts are highly unlikely to protect key information such as trade secrets if the owner of said information failed to protect themselves by entering into a non-disclosure agreement.
If you plan on contracting out services, then you’ll want to consider having an independent contractor agreement drawn up which clearly defines the various “roles and responsibilities of your professional relationship” with any potential virtual team members you may recruit.
Perform due diligence when it comes to securing the future of your company and consider hiring expert legal council to cover your bases.
6. Simplify the on-boarding process.
Part of the challenge in scaling your business with a virtual team lies in streamlining your onboarding process, which when handled manually and on a one-on-one basis, can be quickly become an extremely inefficient expenditure of time and energy.For example, perhaps you find that a lot of the onboarding process is handled through email communications. Creating an automated set of emails to help onboard candidates can easily help free up hours of time and provide you with the ability to focus on more significant areas of the business.
SOPs (standard operating procedures) are “step-by-step instructions that act as guidelines for employee work processes”. By creating a standard document outlining the responsibilities and expectations of future virtual team members, you can effectively simplify performance management, save on training costs and help facilitate and maintain a high standard of quality and consistency.
7. Use project management tools to streamline workflows.
Did you know that 33% of virtual teams say that a lack of access to proper software or technology is their biggest issue? A solid project management solution such can help optimize workflow processes, facilitate more effective communications and enhance the customer experience.
With platforms such as Trello, businesses can communicate about assignments, collaborate, distribute deliverables and monitor progress on projects all on one single platform. Web-based project management solutions not only help to improve internal communications and facilitate a well-organized environment, they also promote optimized decision making by giving key decision makers access to every important detail in one convenient place.
8. Focus on remote-friendly channels for recruiting talent.
There are numerous reputable platforms which cater specifically to businesses looking to scale with the use of virtual teams. Platforms such as Upwork provide businesses with an international database of freelance talent in a variety of industries and even goes so far as to vet those who have shown an exceptional level of professionalism with their Top-Rated program.
Even better is the fact that many of these platforms such as Freelancer and Fiverr rate talent based on reviews, job completion and number of projects completed so that companies such as yourself are more easily able to navigate through the clutter to find the most reliable and qualified candidates for the position.
9. Embrace differing schedules among your virtual team members.
When it comes to managing your virtual team, you may easily find yourself in a position where you’re having to keep track of differing schedules and time zones. Learn the varying situations and environments of your team members and never go so far as to assume that they’re all working in the same environment as you are. This is not a downside to hiring virtual teams, but an upside.
Embrace these differences as an opportunity to increase productivity. Your staff on the east coast may be better equipped to handle communications with some clientele during their business hours, but leveraging staff in another time zone may present an ideal opportunity for getting deliverables completed on a timely basis for clientele in another time zone.
Recruiting from diverse locations can literally enable you to remain productive while you sleep and effectively set your business up for being able to cater to a wider demographic of customers than you previously could.
10 .Focus on quality of deliverables as a metric for success.
As a business owner, it’s easy to get into the routine of wanting to know exactly what your virtual team is doing at all hours of the day. However, this is an unproductive use of your time and forcing your virtual team to abide to stringent rules that don’t necessarily have an impact on their performance will only hinder their abilities to perform the duties of their job in a way that works best for them and their particular situation.
While it’s essential to measure the performance of your virtual team members, it’s much more effective to focus on the quality of their work as opposed to hours of availability or hours worked per day/week. While you can’t measure input, you can certainly measure output. Reach an agreement with your team regarding quality of deliverables, schedules and hard deadlines and give them the degree of autonomy they need in order to thrive.
Scaling your business is hard work. By leveraging the power of a virtual team you can give your company the advantage it needs to not only expand, but be able to keep up with the various demands associated with business growth. With the help of a virtual team your business can increase productivity exponentially while still being able to maintain that certain degree of quality and commitment to your customers that keep them coming back for more.
Let’s face it – you can’t do it all. Scale your business with the help of a virtual team today and get back to focusing on the aspects of the job that you do best.
Have you used a virtual team to help scale your business? Let us know your experience in the comments below!