July 3, 2020 Last updated July 3rd, 2020 131 Reads share

How to Grow a Startup Remotely

Image Credit: DepositPhotos

In this digital age, it has never been easier to grow a startup remotely. Successful companies like TopTal, InVision, and GitLab have not only survived with a fully distributed team but thrived and built successful, profitable ventures.

Growing a remote startup does not just give you increased flexibility and work-life balance; it is also helpful for your company’s bottom line. Launching a remote business allows you access to a broader pool of global talent, and wage arbitrage opportunities by tapping into high-skilled labor in countries with lower unit wage costs. It also presents productivity benefits, with Forbes reporting that remote workers can be up to 40% more productive than onsite workers.

The key to a growing a startup remotely and successfully is to ensure you have a well-structured team of remote workers, with the right processes set up to optimize the way your organization communicates, collaborates, and builds trust with one another.

Find the Right Talent For Your Startup

First and foremost, you need to ensure that you have the right talent in place for your essential business operations.

Being a remote company means you can access the best talent for your business, regardless of where you are based. Numerous digital platforms have proliferated in helping companies hire remote talent.

Generalist hiring platforms such as Fiverr and Upwork can work very well for your low-skilled needs; for example, to hire a short-term freelancer to design your packaging or to do data-entry roles. For high-skilled labor in core team roles, consider using specialist platforms to hire pre-vetted talent. TopTal helps companies hire verified technical workers like developers and product managers, and Traktion helps companies hire growth and marketing talent with a track record of success.

Optimize Your Interview Processes

In your interviews, you need to ensure that your prospective hires have the right technical chops and are also an excellent cultural fit for your virtual team.

Working remotely can be challenging, especially for those who do not have any previous experience with remote work. More often than not, remote workers are expected to work autonomously with very little to no guidance. With this in mind, optimize your interview processes by evaluating technical knowledge as well as their cultural fit through these interview questions.

You might then wish to start your hire on a probation basis, with clear project milestones set in place to evaluate their progress and fit for your distributed team. Do not commit to hiring workers on your payroll too quickly without first validating that they will be a good fit for your company.

Set in Place Clear Communications Processes

Transparent communication processes are critical to effective collaboration amongst distributed teams. It’s vital to ensure every single person on your team understands the importance of regular communications with their co-workers.

Set in place daily stand-up meetings with within each team of four to eight people, to go through each person’s needs and questions for the day. Also, put in place regular company-wide meetings on a fortnightly or monthly basis to update all employees of the company’s progress and important updates.

Facilitate virtual socials between team members by replicating offline socials in virtual settings. Using tools like Houseparty or Zoom for virtual company drinks or pub quizzes can help to build rapport, and get employees to know one another in a virtual setting.

Many companies also put in place retreats once or twice a year, where team members gather to know one another in person.

Use the Right Tools

To get your remote work team members to communicate with one another effectively, they need access to the right set of digital tools.

Ensure that your startup uses the latest digital ‘tool stack’ to empower virtual work to happen effortlessly. For example, day-to-day communications are best powered on platforms like Slack, video calls are often facilitated by Zoom, with virtual databases powered by tools like Notion, as well as an assortment of other tools for remote working.

Select the appropriate digital tool stack for your business based on your needs, and formalize these in your onboarding processes. With every new hire, ensure your team members are onboarded to the digital tools your company has chosen to ensure effective collaboration.

Managing Your Team Remotely

Managing a remote team effectively can be challenging as you lack face-to-face interactions. This means that managers are unable to identify emotional cues that could be apparent during in-person check-ins, and risk missing out on identifying employees that need help.

To overcome this, ensure that your company embraces an open culture where team members feel empowered to raise issues and questions openly with the management team. Devise an open line of communication where employees can raise questions publicly or anonymously, be it through email, an anonymous Typeform, a virtual town hall, or via a public Slack channel. This fosters a culture where employees feel supported in their mental health and work-life balance, and that their voices are heard.

Perform Performance Reviews Regularly

Although running regular performance reviews has always been an important thing to do for all businesses, it becomes much more crucial when you are running a remote company.

Be sure to set clear expectations within your team, so your employees understand what success in their roles looks like and can review their performance and progress with their managers on an ongoing basis. This can be done by implementing KPIs and by setting clear ground rules.

In addition to formal performance reviews, be sure to also schedule in informal “tea chats” virtually, so managers can check in with employees informally on a more frequent basis.

Lead by Example

If there is one thing that can be said about leading a remote team, it is that three of the essential ingredients for success – communication, collaboration, and trust – don’t just come out of nowhere.

In addition to building a robust remote working strategy as outlined above, leading by example and making an apparent effort to master the art of remote working will distinguish you from your competitors.

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Saher Shodhan

Saher Shodhan

I am CEO and co-founder of Traktion, Saher Shodhan and am passionate abouot helping businesses scale with the right growth talent. I have 5+ years scaling marketplace businesses across 3 countries, having started my career as part of the Uber launch team in India. I am also the co-founder of P2P events platform Lemonade.

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