Small Business Toolkit: Should Your Biz Go Virtual?

I haven’t driven into an office in over 5 years. My employees have lived all over the world and in almost every time zone; yet, as a team, we grew 5 small companies, served thousands of professionals and small businesses, and developed B2B services and technology that made a difference.

Has your company considered “going virtual”? Telecommuting, or working virtually, is the trend for many businesses looking to save money, gain access to top talent, ensure business continuity, and go green.

Is your business ready to go virtual and go green?

Is your business ready to go virtual and go green?

Research predicts that by the end of 2009, 14 million workers will not be driving to work. Is your small business a candidate for going virtual? Let’s take a quick quiz and find out:

1) What does virtual mean to you? Are you taking your business online (that’s another whole set of planning) or are you simply relocating your employees to home offices, shedding expensive office space, and going paperless?

2) What is your logistical plan? Explain to your family that the workspace is no different from any other office space – not a play space, not a place for Fido to come and visit. Consider every activity you engage in at a physical office and determine if you still need to do it and how to do it from your home office. No task is too small for you to plan for it.

3) Are your employees ready? If they are not on board, you haven’t adequately prepared them, and you haven’t researched and planned how you will maintain your company culture…you’re in for a rough ride. Going virtual is not about sending emails and surfing the Web. It’s about real, measurable increased productivity while eliminating needless overhead. Being virtual means leveraging the Web for sharing, learning and interacting as a team.

4) Are your employees the right ones – NOW? This is a critical point – – not every team member will adjust well to being a virtual employee. In fact, I have found that this is one of the toughest cultural and behaviorial fits for which to interview. Believe me…employees and potential employees will think working virtually is some sort of panacea. Those are NOT the employees for you. Really. Trust me.

5) Do you know what tools you will use to ensure communication, connectivity and productivity? If you’re not sure, then you’re not ready. There are many tools out there that purport to help your business go virtual, and they cost a pretty penny. In reality, though, there are many tools that are free or very low cost that can help you achieve piece of mind and grow your business.

Finally, if you are serious about going virtual and going green, as many small businesses are, consider our introductory online workshop to find out more.

Every day, the argument for getting in the car and driving into work gets less and less compelling. Most knowledge workers can easily work from home, saving you thousands of dollars, saving them stress and road rage and improving organizational productivity.

4 Overlooked Roles of the Small Business Owner


Richard Chang, author of The Passion Plan at Work , once said that “passion is the single most powerful competitive advantage an organization can claim in building its success.”  In honor of this year’s National Small Business Week, which wrapped yesterday, let’s talk about some of the overlooked roles the small business owner must play in his or her organization to regain that passion.

1) Super passionate spokesperson:  Ms. Small Biz Owner, you left a good job in the city, working for the man, to take a risk. Now you find yourself buried in the minutiae that it takes to run a business from day to day.  It can sap your enthusiasm and passion unless you stoke the fires!  Meet with key customers and clients and remind yourself that you are living your dream, building a future and solving issues for other people.  Everyone needs a cheerleader.  Be your own.

2) Chief Strategist:  Probably one of the most overlooked roles for a small business owner is that of chief strategist.  Sure, once upon a time there was a business plan and it’s now collecting dust on the shelf.  That small business plan was a living and breathing path to success.  Smart business owners consistently review their strategy and models.  If you don’t know where your revenue is going to come from next week or next year or during the next downturn, you’ve got some planning to do.

3) Student:  Bill Wagner, in his book The Entrepreneur Next Door, says that there is a direct correlation between the amount of time an entrepreneur invests in his education and his success.  But, let me be clear:  learning comes in many different forms, thanks to social networking and social media.  As a small business owner, you should be leveraging online workshops, Twitter, blogs, Linked In and a whole host of other tools to get your most pressing questions answered by people who have been there.  Those tools can build your business and brand, too, but they are just as important to you as a leader.

4) Consensus Builder:  The drive and will to succeed is part of the entrepreneur’s DNA. So should be consensus building.  Find ways to be inclusive, seek out alliances that can benefit your business, and instill a culture of passion and enthusiasm in your organization.  Nothing will kill success and innovation in your company faster than an owner ignoring or shooting down ideas and concerns from the rank and file.  Your employees will flee for the hills the first chance they get. 


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