Most of a year has passed since the COVID-19 pandemic pushed countless businesses and workers into remote operation, but we’re still trying to figure out how to make the best of it. Remote working presents distinct benefits and challenges, after all. On one hand, you get to avoid commuting and enjoy more free time. On the other hand, you lose valuable in-person interactions.
Similarly, the broader repercussions stemming from global lockdowns and recessions have had mixed implications for entrepreneurial types. It’s a tough time to start a business, inarguably: investors are reluctant to commit, no one knows what the immediate future holds, and huge parts of society are essentially in suspended animation. At the same time, chaos presents opportunity, and more people than ever before are seeing the appeal of self-employment.
Maybe you started a business before the events of early 2020, or maybe you took the plunge after the outbreak was a familiar fixture. Either way, you’re looking to scale it up in the new year, but you’re not sure how best to do that while working remotely. Here are some tips to help.
Invest in suitable software
When your laptop is your primary window to the world, you need to make the best of it, and that means investing in software that can support your operation’s growth. The best productivity software for small businesses will focus on making it easier to get key tasks done efficiently. GetBusy's list of options is a good place to start: you should focus on eliminating admin and improving communication while keeping costs low (some tools offer more value than others).
As for exactly how much you should invest, well, it depends on your overall budget and what kind of ROI you can reasonably anticipate from any given tool. Given that most tools and services offer free trials (or free versions with enough functionality for you to test them), it’s worth spending a month testing various tools to see how they can help you. You can keep those that prove most useful and discard the rest to save money.
Learn how to automate workflows
Many of the software tools you look at will involve automation to some extent, but it’s also worth learning how to create custom automation workflows. The key to this is getting familiar with an all-purpose automation tool, with the two most common options being Zapier and IFTTT. Each has a huge range of integrations with popular services, presenting various possibilities.
Take a look at those systems to see which interface you prefer, then run with your favorite and start getting to grips with basic workflow types. As you learn, think about which of your daily admin tasks could be improved through triggered workflows. Relying on automation templates can be highly effective, but there will always be value in knowing how to create your own.
Get used to outsourcing tasks
It’s always been possible to run a solo business, and moving businesses online has only made it easier — but that doesn’t mean it’s possible to grow a solo business to a great extent. Soon enough, you’ll run into the fundamental problem that you just don’t have enough time in the day to handle everything that needs to be done.
Now, you could hire some full-time employees, but that would reduce your flexibility. If times got tough down the line, you’d have more financial obligations to deal with. Instead, learn how to outsource tasks through freelance marketplaces like Fiverr and Upwork. If you can pick out some trustworthy freelancers, you can have all the support you need without making any long-term employment commitments.
Network via digital channels
Prior to the remote working revolution, professional networking was done through conferences, trade shows, training seminars, and in-person events of other varieties. Today, those events either don’t happen at all or take place online — and you need to adapt accordingly. A huge problem with running an online business is the lack of visibility, after all.
The onus is on you to painstakingly build a respectable brand through online activity. Engage with actual or prospective customers through social media, showing trustworthiness and expertise. Reach out to industry professionals in charge of compatible businesses: steadily build up familiarity and look for ways to pitch partnerships. In the end, one of the secrets to success is simply making a concerted effort to promote your business.
Commit to an SEO strategy
Search engine optimization is a long-term concern, which is why it makes sense as a priority when you’re aiming to grow your business. By investing in it and slowly making progress, you can build up a lead-generation pipeline that takes little effort to maintain. So how do you build your website into a respectable performer in the search results?
There are technical elements, of course: your site needs to be fast, mobile-responsive, in line with current coding standards, and configured correctly so crawlers can find it. Mostly, though, it’ll come down to the quality of your site content and the breadth of your backlink profile. That means running an insightful blog covering popular industry questions and looking for ways to appear on high-quality sites (you can write guest posts, provide PR statements, propose collaborations… there are plenty of options).
There you have it: five tips that can help you scale your startup when you’re in the remote-working groove. The old office model was great in some ways, but the new approach offers a lot more flexibility. All you need to do is embrace it.