The Challenges And Opportunities Of Remote Business
It is said that the world is getting smaller, and it is , all thanks to the wonders of modern day technology. Recent technological developments have allowed us to communicate further and cheaper, placing quality communications even in the hands of the ordinary individual and small business.
Moving forward in the 21st century, it is only appropriate for every business to try and see how they can take advantage of these developments. Instead of thinking only local, dare to think regional or even international. The local market should just be the starting point. Think remote business operations.
Depends On The Nature Of Your Business
The extent to which you can take advantage of this communications revolution depends highly on the nature of your business. There are some businesses for which you need to be firmly rooted to the ground in order to execute.
Take the example of a hair salon. It is unlikely that you will source clients from the neighbouring region, let alone town, unless they are travelling. At the very least you can get in touch with them before they leave their city and are headed to your town.
Some other businesses are less tied down to geographic location and can take advantage of these technological developments. Take the business of web design, for example, which is well suited to take advantage of these developments. Even though it requires a strong connection between client and designer, most of the actual work in web design happens in the electronic realm.
There are indeed many businesses that can benefit from these technological developments. Businesses such as marketing agencies, graphic designers, consultants, counsellors, tutors and the like. I have even heard of remote yoga instructors doing it. If your business is suited for it, you can incorporate remote clientele, but bear in mind that doing so presents challenges as well as it does opportunities.
Some Of The Benefits And Disadvantages Of Going Remote
I do not have to tell you that if you successfully implement the remote business approach, it will translate to your business getting more clients above and beyond your local market share. This means increased revenue that allows you to invest in your business as well as take more cash home for buying the bacon.
There is also the diminished cost associated with running operations remotely. You don't have to worry about extra office space to accommodate staff as your current premises will sufficiently serve both your local and remote operations and if you need to expand you do so in one place. You may even operate from home.
Doing business remotely also allows you a lot of time flexibility with regards to the time you engage in communications with your clients. You do not necessarily have to keep regular hours.
It is not all sunshine and rainbows when you decide to conduct business remotely. For one thing it robs you of the routine that you would normally have in an office environment and can prove to be a distraction.
Conducting business remotely also removes the social element between you and your clients. This can sometimes be a great problem as human beings are social beings by nature.
At times you do not even have to have local premises and conduct your whole business entirely remotely. Doing so can present the challenge of managing the work-life balance as the lines between the two can tend to be blurred.
Building Trust In Business Relationships
One of the direct consequences of poor social dynamics with your clients as a result of conducting business remotely is the difficulty that arises in building trust. It is not easy for clients to trust someone they have never met, someone who might be miles away or even half way across the world.
The trust issues extend beyond the business requirements of whether the client can trust you to get the job done but also whether they can trust you enough to give you money if you require an upfront payment before delivery.
A first step in building trust between yourself and your remote clients is effective branding. You should aim to present your business in the best professional light that engenders trust. This means making sure you are professional in all your branding material such as letter head, email as well as website along with your ideal business conduct.
The second step is to ensure that you always deliver as promised. Aim to build a solid reputation with your remote clients as someone who can always be trusted to deliver.
Communication Is Key
Since you will be falling short in your ability to interact with your remote clients face to face, you have to make sure that the communication that you have with them is above par. There is something fundamentally critical to business success in face to face interaction which will be missing in your remote operations for which you will have to compensate.
Communication is central to the success of your operations, whether you are running your regular office or conducting business remotely. It is important that the client is kept in the loop about the progress of their projects.
Not only does technology keep us in good communication, it also allows us to be efficient at it. Adopt the use of technology to enhance your communication and use various tools in concert to make sure that your are in good communication with your clients.
Relying On Technology
One of the recent developments in technology I mentioned earlier comes in the form of free and high quality voice and video communications. Such tools include Skype, which I find invaluable, as well as Google Hangouts.
There are also project management tools that will allow you to be productive and share your progress with clients and also interact with them at varying levels. Examples of such tools are Trello and Asana which I highly recommend that you try out.
When working remotely, it may be essential to be able to exchange files efficiently for certain types of businesses. This is where file sharing applications like Google Drive or Dropbox come in handy. With these applications, you can control access as well as rights and privileges for file sharing, which is vital for some remote projects.
Technology is meant to make our lives easier by allowing us to focus on the problems at hand and these technological developments allow us to do just that. By mapping out a work-flow and integrating technology into your remote operations, you will be on your way to successfully conducting business operations remotely.
Have you considered running remote operations for your business, or maybe you are already doing so? Let us know in the comment section below.