Are you eyeing to build a virtual business? Wanting to create your virtual team? Read our latest article to help you guide with what you need to know about owning or starting a virtual business.
1. Virtual Business, What Is It?
A Virtual Business, from the term itself, is a business which is run virtually. It doesn’t necessarily need a physical location to operate. Essentially, virtual businesses are headquartered wherever the owner is, as well as their team members. The very nice thing about it is team members can be at different places at the same time. One can work from a coffee shop, one can work at the comfort of their home, one can work while at the beach, etc.
Having a virtual business also doesn't necessarily mean that everyone’s globally apart. It could only mean that there’s no physical workplace that members report to. Needless to say, all company tasks are done virtually as well - so long as there’s a reliable and stable internet connection. Tasks such as production/operations, hiring, training etc. However, there are some tasks that still need to be done in person such as signing or submission of pertinent documents.
As easy as it may sound, building a virtual business can also be challenging. You have to establish an ideal virtual work environment for your team members. This part can be a challenge as it affects your members’ morale, which can in turn affect their performance. Additionally, you have to provide inspiring leadership to get your members’ integrity - trust plays a huge role with this kind of setup.
2. What Businesses Qualify As A Virtual Business?
We’ve already established that a virtual business can be fully operated virtually, hence the name. On that note, there are several businesses that can operate virtually. One very good example would be an ecommerce business such as an Amazon business. This can be done 100% online.
However, there are some businesses that require you to show up in person. Businesses such as landscaping businesses wherein you or your staff have to show up to the site to check. In this case, you could set up a hybrid-type of business. With this type of setup, you have members who do admin work virtually anywhere, then, you have members who do field work such as ocular inspections.
3. Communicating Within A Virtual Business Setup
It goes without saying that communication is a vital part of a virtual business setup. With that said, there are different ways you could communicate with your members.
To start off, there are a fair amount of instant messaging apps and software available. One if not currently the most popular messaging app is Facebook Messenger. It is completely free to sign up with. Some people I know do not even have Facebook accounts, but they have Messenger. You could set up a group chat, video calls, voice calls through the internet, send files and photos, and a lot more. However, it is suggested that Messenger should only be used as an urgent way of communicating with your team. Apart from Messenger, there’s also Slack, WhatsApp, Viber etc.
The more professional way of messaging with your members would be within a business productivity suite such as Asana. Here, you’ll be able to communicate with your members through tasks, projects or even its own communication section.
If there’s a need to conduct a team meeting or 1-2-1s with your members, then video teleconferencing software is your best bet. Software such as Zoom can help you conduct team meetings and 1-2-1s with your members. Yes, you can conduct video calls with messaging apps such as Messenger, but apps like Zoom are a more professional approach. Zoom has a meeting recording function if ever you need to have a copy of the meeting. More importantly, these software allow you to create a meeting link that you send your members - think of it as a virtual meeting room (which actually it is!).
Then lastly, you have the traditional calls and SMS options. This however, will only be applicable and practical if you and your team members are within the same country or state. Otherwise, you might be seeing a very expensive phone bill with long distance calls and SMS.
4. Find Your Virtual Team
Having a virtually setup business also means that you have to build your team virtually too. The question that lingers though, “where can you virtually find potential team members?”.
Just like with the different means of communicating with members spread across different places, there are also several options you can look at when sourcing for potential team members.
First of course are job hunting portals. Here, you can advertise your job openings, then just wait for applicants to get in touch with you.
On the contrary, sites such as Fiverr UpWork feature talents and their skills. All you have to do as a business owner looking for members is to check their profiles and skills. Once you’ve seen someone whom you think would be a best fit for your organisation is to get in touch with them.
You can also post your job adverts within social media sites such as Facebook. Just search for groups that are relative to your line of business. Then, post your job adverts accordingly. As such, you just have to wait for applicants to get in touch with you.
Regarding hunting for your virtual team members, the internet is your best friend. You just have to know the right keywords, and figure out what you’re looking for, then you’ll be all set.
5. Create Your Virtual Team
Virtual business setup requires you to fully or partially have a virtual team. If you are looking to know how to effectively outsource to your virtual team members, then our free guide will be extremely helpful.
Now, the next section will guide you on how to create a virtual team for your biz.
A. Which Roles Are You Looking For?
First, you have to figure out which part of the business you need help with. Let’s cite an Amazon business owner as an example.
Having an Amazon arbitrage business doesn’t only mean you buy profitable products, and then sell them for profit. There are underlying intricacies within it that if you are not aware of might affect your business in general. Going back to the previous point, figure out which part of your business you need help with. In this example, do you need help sourcing for products? Do you need help with customer queries and other Amazon-related tasks? Or, do you need help with admin tasks in general?
Once you’re already figured this out, then it’s time for the second step.
B. Define These Roles: Title and Details
This time, you have to put a title for the role you are going to hire for, as well as the details. You can create your own title for the role, but, generally speaking there are industry-wide titles that are being used at the moment. You can use Google or other search engines for the title of the role you are looking for by using the right keywords.
Once you’ve already put a title on that role, it’s now time for you to define it. Indicate the necessary details. This way, you are setting proper expectations to applicants on what skills you are looking for, as well as what kind of tasks you will be delegating them. Also, by doing this, you are somehow filtering the number of applicants and enquiries you will get. Applicants who do not possess the skills you are looking for wouldn’t ideally send in an application. This way, you are eliminating unwanted waste of time for both you and the applicant.
C. Screen Candidates Online
Now that you’ve already defined and advertised the role/s you are looking for, it’s now time to screen those candidates.
One of the challenges of screening a candidate online is that you are limited to observing an interviewee only within your computer screen. You won’t be able to observe all of their tendencies and nuances which are attributed with their behavior. You just have to make do with the set up though.
Since you are limited to observing the candidate in person, you have to be ready with sensible questions. Your questions should not only revolve around the candidate’s professional background. You also have to ask questions that would help you uncover the candidate’s personality and behavior. With this, use a combination of different questions: situational questions, close-ended ones, open-ended and the like.
The important thing here as an interviewer is to follow the 70-30 rule. Ask questions and limit yourself to talking only for 30% of the time, and let the interviewee speak for the 70% left. This way, you would be able to take down notes on some of the candidate’s answers, as well as nuances, e.g. the candidate has a tendency to stutter when asked a difficult question, the candidate seems to be confident in giving answers etc.
You can create a screening process such as an initial interview, then a final interview with the best ones you’ve noted from the initial interview. You want to hire the best one for your business, hence the screening process.
Finally, make sure to set a timeline for the application so as not to overextend yourself from this task. Also, this is so you can onboard your new member as soon as possible.
D. Hire The Best Candidate
After you’ve gone through all applicants, it’s now time to hire your team members.
When hiring your team members, you have to consider some other things apart from the candidate’s skills and professional background. You have to remember that it’s not all about technical skills and job experiences. You also have to consider the candidate’s character, behavior and personality. Apart from that, you also have to think if the candidate is a best fit and can work harmoniously with your current team (if you already have one).
Lastly, you also have to think if the candidate would be able to work fittingly with you as a leader, basing it on your own behavior and personality. The reason why you want to consider this is there are some working relationships between leaders and staff that do not fully work, e.g. you might clash if both you and the candidate have strong personalities, etc.
E. Onboard And Set Proper Expectations: Expectations, Virtual Work Environment, Workflows and Teams
Once you’ve hired your team member, you now have to process onboarding.
With onboarding, you will set proper expectations with your new member. Despite detailing the job role within the advertisement you’ve posted, you still have to specifically set what you are expecting from your team member. Most often than not, there are tasks given to members, as well as expectations that are not initially discussed within the advertisement’s job description. Onboarding is the perfect avenue to discuss these expectations.
Apart from expectations from the new member, you also have to give the member a background of your virtual work environment. Give a glimpse on what you and your current team normally do. Let the new member know of your house rules. Also, give the new member something to look forward to that’s not totally related to work such as monthly R&Rs (Rest and Recreation) etc.
Lastly, the onboarding process is also the right channel to discuss what structural and business processes your team follows, which in turn the new member should follow as well. Structural processes such as call in for sickness, vacation leave plotting/filing, and the like. Business processes include escalation procedures, gauging of work quality based on business metrics, to name a few.
F. Create A Reliable Communications Channel
We’ve already established how you’d be able to communicate with your virtual team members, now you have to let your new member know about your communication process.
Let the new member know what’s your main communication channel, perhaps your organisation’s productivity suite such as Asana. Then, if it’s something urgent, you could tell them that they can reach you through messaging apps.
This way, you have a streamlined process for when and how to communicate with who. It will lessen confusion and members will have a sense of ownership and responsibility depending on which part of the process they fall into.
G. Set Realistic And Attainable Goals
As a business owner, you have goals you need to meet in order to measure your success. As such, you need your team members to help you attain these goals.
Needless to say, distribute these goals as mini goals to your team members which collectively would be able to hit your targets. For example, an ecommerce business owner has monthly targets for the number of sales, as well as the profit they need to hit. On the other hand, they also need to manage their customer’s satisfaction. With that given example, you can set KPIs or Key Performance Indicators to your team members which are derived from your organisation’s goals.
However, do not set KPIs or targets that are way unattainable. You have to set realistic and attainable ones. Otherwise, you are just setting your team for failure, which in turn can negatively affect your business in a lot of ways
H. Arrange Video Meetings
The last step is a crucial one since there is minimal to zero chances of conducting face to face personal meetings with your team.
You have to schedule and arrange periodic video meetings with your members - be it 1-2-1s or team meetings. These meetings can be done weekly, fortnightly, and/or monthly. You can even arrange a quarterly, and year-end meeting with your team.
This is a crucial step in order for you to have a consistent catch up with your members, as well as catch up amongst themselves. These meetings can be purely work-related, but it won’t harm to insert some personal catching up with them. Ask them how their life has been currently, what are their goals for the week/month etc.
Remote businesses are becoming more common now more than ever because of the pandemic. Because of that, it has created new opportunities for those that got laid off from their jobs to still make a living despite the current situation we are all in. Additionally, there are even larger companies that have resorted to letting their employees work from home - and it has been working wonderfully. It is a win-win situation, companies don't have to pay for office spaces, and employees get to work at the comfort of their homes without the fear of getting the virus.
Because of that, Global VA Solutions has been working hand in hand with virtual business owners in hiring the best possible member for their team. We are striving to provide the best possible service to our clients. If you are a business owner whether virtual or a physical business, and are looking to build a virtual team, do not hesitate to contact us and we will clarify all your queries for you.
Here Are Some Additional Resources
Get Expert Virtual Assistants: Want to build your team of transformational VAs and free your time? Learn more here.
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Need to Understand The Benefits of Outsourcing? Download our FREE guide to get all your questions answered.
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