If you want to start and grow a 100% remote business or transition to a remote business fully operated by a remote workforce, this ultimate guide is for you. Through this guide, we explain what a 100% remote business is, how your business fits into that type of setup, how you keep things under control, where you can find the kind of remote talent you need to run things, and the steps that you need to take to build your 100% remote business.
(1) What is a 100% Remote Business?
By nature, a remote business is run remotely. It does not operate from any specific physical location. As such, it is also not run by a team of people who gather in one single office location. A fully remote business is headquartered wherever the business owner, executives, and / or management choose to put in their respective hours of work. The team that keeps everything going within the business is likewise not located anywhere specific, and each team member can in fact be in different locations on any given day.
Team members and owners are not necessarily spread out all over the world. Remote just means that they don’t have to report to dedicated physical offices where they do their work. So, hires can do their work from anywhere that has a suitable internet connection. This is a basic prerequisite for a fully remote business to operate because everyone working on and in the business has to stay in touch. As such, any business has the opportunity to hire people from almost anywhere in the world that they would like to.
As hinted at above, all functions within a fully remote business are conducted online. This is true for almost every remote business. There are some exceptions, of course. A few remote hybrid businesses still use gofers and messengers and couriers and the like to physically bring documents and things to and from different team members. This is not very practical, however, especially if you have people working from faraway regions or even different countries. Fully remote businesses must rely on the internet to be able to collaborate on projects.
Moreover, you need to understand that some things will work differently under a remote structure. You don’t have that office environment where everyone comes together physically under the same roof. For one thing, a remote business needs a different type of company culture and management style. You’ll also need a stricter system to make sure that everyone can and does stay in touch, which we’ll discuss a bit later in this post.
(2) What Type of Businesses Can Be 100% Remote?
Put simply, any business that can function completely online can be a 100% remote business. If your business has certain areas that can’t be done by someone online, then you cannot be completely remote. However, you can build a hybrid structure where you have in-house or physical staff for those specific tasks and run other areas by remote.
For example, if you run a landscaping company, you may not be able to go fully remote if you provide the equipment that the landscapers use. You would need to maintain a physical location to house the equipment. You would also probably want to have at least one person on location to watch over the equipment as it is signed out and back in, and possibly to guard the facility when you’re closed. Other than that, areas like marketing, sales, accounting, and customer service can be fully handled by remote hires. This is true even if you have determined that online advertising, for instance, does not work as well to bring in sales as putting up physical posters or handing out flyers or running ads in the local newspaper. You don’t have to maintain a physical office location to get those posters put up and flyers handed out and newspaper ads printed.
(3) How to Communicate within a 100% Remote Business
When you run a fully remote business, you will need to set a virtual communication system firmly in place to make sure that everyone on the team can stay in touch. Since you are going to be dependent on the internet, this communication system needs to be online. Keeping communications online just makes the most sense. At Outsource School, we use Slack as our primary team communication channel. We also use email for certain types of communication that don’t make sense on Slack, and Zoom for video calls because it just works better than Slack for when we want to meet with our team that is spread out all over the world.
You always want to have alternative means of communication as well. For instance, if the internet or power goes down in someone’s state, they need to have an alternate way of informing at least one other person on the team that they are not available for a certain period of time. Cellular networks are a great communication system to act as your secondary way of getting a message through. This can be mobile data, if available and strong or fast enough, or a text message in the rare case that internet service is simply not available within the region. (You don’t want to force hires to travel for hours to get to a place where they can use decent internet because there’s a big storm raging where they live.)
(4) Where to Find the Best Remote Talent
The best remote talent can, not ironically, be found online. They cannot all be found in one single place, though, because they are scattered all over the world. However, there are online hiring platforms that remote freelancers sign up on to more easily gain access to clients. This is your best bet if you’re looking to hire for several different roles. These hubs also work very well if you need people who are not necessarily specialized or experts in specific areas like sales funnel optimization, eCommerce website customization or Facebook Ads.
If you are looking for highly specialized talent, you can search for niche-specific platforms that curate talent for defined areas like graphic design or app development. You can also do very well with a Google search targeting that specific area of specialization. Then you can review the various freelance portfolios and reviews available and hire directly without having to pay any fees. Just know that outside of a hiring platform, you will not have much chance for added protection in case that freelancer turns out to be a scammer. That said, not all hiring platforms provide you with much protection, anyway.
Some online hiring platforms are more popular in certain countries, and others collect freelance talent from a variety of countries. Still others — the select few — are known for maintaining a freelancer base of only the top performing individuals in their respective fields and niches. These select marketplaces are where you want to go to have the best chance of finding the best remote talent for your needs.
(5) How to Build Your Remote Business
Now you have a good understanding of what a fully remote business will look like, and what you need to get started. In this section, we’ll go over in detail the steps you need to take to actually begin the journey.
(1) Identify the Roles You Need to Hire For
This is true for any type of business, remote or not, but we did not want to gloss over this vital step in the hiring process. You need to know exactly what roles you need to get filled within your business. Take time to think about where you’re spending your time and what you need to get off your plate to free up that valuable time.
Think about whether you need one person to do all of these tasks or if you need a few or several people to get the tasks done at a higher level. Even if you have done all of these tasks yourself in the past, it does not mean that it is best to have one person cover them all. You may have found them easy to do, but you can’t expect the same from everyone else. You’ll end up either disappointed with the low quality of the work output or end up paying that one person a much higher rate to be your jack of all trades. After all, you would not pay your highly versatile self a low rate, and no highly talented freelancer would accept the same. It generally makes more sense to hire several people to take on different tasks if you want to pay lower rates. For specialized tasks, you will definitely need to hire people with special skills and experience.
(2) Create Role Descriptions
Clearly define each one of these roles. Start with the simplest tasks first because they are generally easier to hire for. This gives you time to get used to the process before you move on to more complex roles. All of these types of tasks and positions are usually administrative in nature. They can usually be taken on by a single general virtual assistant. This will depend, of course, on how many hours of this type of work need to get done. You will have difficulty hiring a freelancer if you want them to work more than 40 hours a week with no days off.
Start from the perspective of explaining one role to one person. This way, you can focus on how to get your needs across clearly. Then, later on, you can also make it easier for yourself to get them set up in the role before you make a second hire.
You may have some tasks on your plate that you think are simple but actually require a higher level of skill. When in doubt, treat them the same way that you would a specialized task. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Tackle these after you have hired for all the simple and repetitive tasks.
Elements of a Role Description
Begin your role description with a strong title. It should include the major tasks that you need the ideal candidate to do within that role. It should also contain any special tools that the right person needs to know how to use. Don’t forget to add in any other main qualities that you have determined that they need to possess. This title will help you to attract the best fit from the very start. Here’s a good example of a title: Google Docs Administrative Assistant | Strong English, Team Player
Start this section of your role description with a short paragraph about your business. This will inform any prospective applicant what they need to know about it before they apply. Make sure that it serves as a deterrent to anyone who will not fit in. For instance, use words like “proactively” to describe how you tackle client needs so that you can avoid attracting applicants who do not possess this quality.
Then break down the individual tasks that are covered within the role. List out the skills that are needed to do each task well. Based on the sample title above, a few of the tasks involved would be data entry, research, and calendar management. These tasks would, respectively, require skills like a typing rate of 50 to 80 words per minute, accuracy and attention to detail, a stable internet connection, and strong attendance.
Below the task details, include information on the rate that you are expecting to pay. Then, if you have a preference for where the applicant should be located, add that in. Finally, specify the number of hours that you need them to work on a weekly basis. If you need them for a specific range of hours during any given day of the week, make that clear. If the hours are flexible, write that down. It’s important to include these details so that you can capture the attention of applicants who are a good fit for that schedule and hours per week. Leaving these details out can also cause more experienced freelancers to pass you over because they aren’t desperate and don’t want to waste time on an offer that could turn out to be a poor fit. This can be in terms of rate or location or hours or pretty much any other detail.
The final paragraph of your description should be a request for previous work samples. You can also ask for any additional information that you want to know. Then indicate how they should contact you to respond to the offer. (You may not have to add this information if the platform you are using has an internal system for this.)
(3) Recruit and Interview through Online Platforms
Choose the best channel for each position that you are hiring for. As above, you may use a marketplace like FreeUp to hire basic virtual assistants, and prefer to search for a specialized advertising agency on Google.
Format your role descriptions according to the channel that you’re using. Take the time to make sure that you are filling out form fields accurately and completely. This will raise your chances of finding the best fits for each role.
As applications come through, take some time to read each response and look over the included work histories. Based on this initial information, select the best candidates and contact them for an interview. If you don’t get a response from a candidate within a few days — ideally 24 hours, even if it’s a vacation responder — it’s a sign that you should move on and choose a replacement candidate to interview.
During the interview, begin by introducing yourself and your business. Then ask them if they have any questions. Pay attention to these because they will show you if the candidate is a good fit for your company culture — if they will blend in and work well with you and the existing team. Next, ask the candidate questions to confirm their hard skills and give you insight into their soft skills, or character traits. These questions will help you spot any red flags in terms of ability to do the work or attitude or performance issues. Remember to ask the candidate about their experience and availability as well. This is so that you can verify if their circumstances will allow for them to take on the role.
If you’re not happy with any of the candidates or you have reservations about all of them, reevaluate your role description. You may have missed something or added something that is preventing you from attracting quality applicants. Don’t hire anyone until you are satisfied that you have found the right fit. This time investment will save you a lot more time and headache moving forward.
(4) Hire the Best Team Members for your Remote Business
When you do have the right candidate, you can start the hiring process. This process differs from one channel to another. Make sure that you are familiar with the process and that you have everything you need to complete it. Once that’s settled and you have your safeguards in place, you can begin the onboarding process for the new assistant.
(5) Onboard and Set Clear Expectations
Make sure that you have a clearly defined onboarding process for remote hires. This way, you can avoid spending a lot of time training on the job. An onboarding process is basically what working with you looks like. Below are some key areas to focus on for onboarding new hires.
Make sure that you set clear expectations with hires very early on. Most of this should have already been communicated through your role description and confirmed during the interview. This part of onboarding is just a formality where you confirm that they agree with your formal work expectations document, which includes all the smaller details and nuances of areas like attitude, work days and times, daily reports, work output, meeting attendance, emergency contact information, etc.
As with the culture doc, you should give new hires access to it in advance, walk them through it, and make sure that everyone gets on the same page before you move to the next part. This will help you to avoid any issues and have something to refer back to in case any issues do happen to come up. If anyone cannot agree to meet these expectations, it’s best to carefully reconsider the hire before moving forward.
Remote Work Culture
Provide all new hires with your remote work culture document before the scheduled onboarding session. This gives them time to go over the material. Make sure you tell them to prepare any questions that they have because you will require them to agree with everything on that document. Then, during the onboarding session, go over the sections of the culture document step by step to make sure that everyone is on the same page with you and in full agreement with everything.
Workflows and Teams
Make sure that all new hires know exactly how work will flow within their specific roles and teams, and how their roles tie in with other roles and teams. This is a great place to introduce them to the organizational structure of your company. This is so that they can see where everyone fits. That way, they will know who to approach in various situations that they are likely to encounter as they do their daily tasks.
Make sure that you introduce the new hire to each individual that they will be working with on a regular basis. We recommend that you do this in a separate meeting where everyone can get a chance to welcome the new hire and they all spend a few minutes getting to know each other. Building rapport is vital to the smooth integration of new hires, which is essential to fostering stronger working relationships and long-term loyalty and productivity.
All in all, make sure that you establish in writing with each new hire a clear agreement on each area. This is so there’s no room for confusion or misunderstandings that can complicate things down the road.
(6) Set Up Strong Communication Channels
Communication is always one of the most important aspects of running a successful business. For a remote business, however, it’s even more important. Your communication channels are the only ways that you can reach team members. You can’t just call out to them from the neighboring cubicle. You can’t physically go out and find them, either, when they don’t answer your messages.
You must set up a specific communication channel that every team member will use in the regular course of their work. Direct every hire to use this channel and no other to share updates, notifications for upcoming meetings, and the like. Remote freelancers can tend to prefer certain channels, but allowing this just leads to a big mess. For one thing, it can get very confusing to manage multiple channels. It’s a waste of time and energy. In addition, this means that you don’t have a centralized source of information, and that causes confusion and misunderstandings that lead to wasted time and effort, not to mention raising the chances that mistakes will be made.
(7) Set Goals and Hold Everyone Accountable
You’re probably going to be setting goals for your business every quarter. Start each planning session by the last month of the previous quarter, except for the last quarter. Q4 planning should be done during the first month of the third quarter. This is because you’ll need more time to prepare for the holiday season.
Do your review and analysis of historical performance data during the first 2 weeks of the quarter. Then move on quickly to other planning activities. This is so that you can get to the meetings before the end of the month. Set meetings to go over all the plans with managers. Then set meetings to go over the same with your teams. It’s important that everyone gets on the same page when it comes to the goals that you will be aiming for as a company.
Don’t leave it up to the managers to make sure that every team member knows what to do. You, as the leader of the company, need to be the one to communicate these goals. You can have a much greater impact than any manager because your voice holds the most weight. When you take the time to meet with teams, you reestablish rapport and build loyalty. This is most important with new virtual hires. You can maintain stability and control in a remote business only when the team knows you and respects you. They will see you as the one who will hold them accountable to each goal. That is far more powerful than any manager handing out assignments.
(8) Hold Video Meetings to Get to Know One Another Better
Because you are building a remote business team, your only means of getting to know one another is most likely online. Getting together in person is really the best choice to build and maintain strong working relationships that develop greater teamwork and loyalty. This is not, however, possible. Take advantage of video conferencing technology to make the most of the situation.
Schedule regular meetings with managers, different teams, and the business as a whole. You want to have the opportunity to meet with team members one on one as well, ideally once every quarter. These meetings will allow you to dig in deeper with remote hires so that you can stay on top of performance and challenges. A good rule of thumb is to meet with managers and teams — departments, like marketing and customer service — for the quarterly meetings, then once more for one on ones. For everyone as a whole, a weekly meeting is ideal, plus a monthly meeting that’s more casual and fun.
Plan Your Remote Business
Anyone can start and grow a 100% remote business or transition a business to function remotely. With these tips and steps, however, you can experience a much smoother transition. From figuring out what you can feasibly move from in-office to remote to how you can make sure teams remain connected and productive, this ultimate guide can help you plan to get your bases covered.
Would you like to know how to be certain who your next hire should be? Or maybe you are having a hard time deciding what parts of your business can be outsourced with virtual assistants, right now. We can help you answer these questions, and help you to discover what new systems you should add to scale your business faster. Set up a free hiring consultation with us at Outsource School today – simply book here!