Building a remote startup company from the ground up involves a painstaking process of meticulous planning, market analysis, and industry research. But as challenging or overwhelming as it may be, starting and growing your startup from scratch is possible—and rewarding.
Whether you want to adopt a remote work model out of necessity or opportunity, knowing how to navigate a telecommuting work culture is important. Startup companies like Zapier, Mozilla, Hubstaff, Gitlab, Buffer, and InVision were successfully launched using a remote working model. And when the coronavirus pandemic hit in 2020, many businesses had no other option than to offer their employees an opportunity to work remotely. Today, approximately 42 percent of the American workforce is fully remote and founders are increasingly managing their startups in a non-traditional way.
It’s clear that there’s never been a better time to launch a remote business. With that in mind, here are five actionable tips on how to launch and build a successful remote startup company:
Have a Business Plan
Many entrepreneurs overlook the importance of creating a formal business plan, which can be catastrophic to the business, no matter how viable the startup idea is. Without a detailed business plan, you won’t have a road map to follow when launching your remote startup company or pursuing opportunities in the market. Business plans are also necessary to raise funds later down the road.
A business plan includes detailed information about your company’s vision and purpose, the size of your market, customer segmentation, internal structure procedures, cash-flow projections, competitive analysis, and an overall path to business growth and success. And without this information, you might just be launching a startup company that won’t perform.
According to Harvard Business Review, entrepreneurs who take the time to create business plans are 16 percent more likely to launch and build successful startups than those who don’t plan. Take a look at an industry-relevant business plan sample to give you an idea of how to get started.
Have a Solid Digital Infrastructure
Remote work is only possible when you put the right technical infrastructure in place. Your digital infrastructure should provide your staff with secure access to the information and platforms they need to perform their duties.
Digital infrastructure, in this case, comprises all the technologies and digital tools needed to manage all your business activities and processes efficiently. This includes communication and collaboration tools, project management tools, legitimate security systems, IT systems, mobile apps, and other helpful technologies.
Keep in mind that without the right set of tools, your startup’s productivity could be restricted. And without proper operational security measures and systems, your remote startup company is at risk from cybercriminals.
Build a Great Remote Company Culture
A 2019 survey by Glassdoor found that company culture is one of the most critical factors for job seekers today when deciding whether to join an organization. It’s also a critical factor for employees when deciding whether to leave or keep working in an organization. Results from the survey revealed that about 56 percent of employees consider good company culture to be more important than remuneration.
Build a great remote work culture that fosters an environment of trust and inclusion and gives your team a strong sense of belonging. Some of the things you can do to achieve this include scheduling face-to-face meetings (over video conference), defining your remote work policy, collecting regular feedback from your teams and making adjustments, sharing your company’s mission and goals, and finding creative ways to keep everyone engaged.
Eventually, your strong company culture should counteract remote isolation and make your team feel trusted and empowered, thus building long-term relationships.
Set Clear Goals and Measures for Success
The key to your remote company’s success lies in your ability to set meaningful goals and clear expectations for yourself and your remote teams. You want to make sure everyone in your organization is on the same page and working towards the same goal or outcome.
First, you need to adopt the S.M.A.R.T approach so you can come up with relevant, focused, and results-driven goals for your entire team. This means that you need to take the time to determine your remote team’s desired outcome and share the same with your employees once you hire them. To ensure your team stays productive, align your startup’s goals with your employees’ personal and professional development goals. Be sure to trial different project management techniques and tools.
Keep in mind that goal setting isn’t something you do once and forget about it. It’s a continuous process whereby you have to frequently review and adjust your goals based on your company’s changing needs, employee feedback, or shifting customer needs. You also need to put in place an accountability system that measures and tracks the performance of your team.
Create a Comprehensive Communication Plan
Ask any remote business owner and they’ll tell you communication is the most crucial element in any successful remote startup company. You simply can’t manage a remote without putting in place the right communication protocols and tools. Plus, it’s easy to duplicate, overlook, or at worst, forget tasks when you don’t have the right communication tools. Therefore, it’s best that you create a communication plan and decide the best communication methods upfront to ensure everything runs smoothly and efficiently.
Make sure your communication plan covers everything from what needs to be communicated, by whom, how often, and using which channels. Share your communication process during onboarding and make it available for reference to all employees.
Dave Lavinsky is an internationally renowned expert in the fields of business planning, capital raising, and new venture development. He is the co-founder of Growthink, a business plan consulting firm that has helped over 1 million companies strengthen their business plan outline and grow their companies and raise billions in growth capital.