How to start a fully-remote business in 13 easy steps

It’s easier than ever to start a fully-remote business. With the advancements in technology, there are now many tools and platforms available that allow businesses to operate entirely online. Even so, with so many options out there, figuring out how to get started can be daunting. This is why I’ve put together a step-by-step guide to help you learn how to start a fully-remote business in 13 easy steps. By following this simple process, you’ll be well on your way to getting your business up and running. Whether you’re looking to start a new business or want to learn how to run your existing business remotely, this blog post is for you.

What is a remote business?

A remote business is a company that operates primarily or entirely online. This means that the business is not based in a physical location, but rather, it’s run out of a home office or from anywhere in the world with an internet connection, usually via a website.

There are many examples of completely remote companies, including:

  • CallHippo
  • Automattic
  • Clevertech
  • Collage.com
  • Evolving Wisdom, and many more.

You can find companies from different industries spanning FinTechs, MarTechs, LegalTechs and more.

The pros and cons of remote entrepreneurship

There are many pros and cons to starting a remote business, and it’s important to weigh both sides before making a decision.

Pros

  • Lower Start-Up and operation costs
  • A global talent market
  • Flexibility and freedom
  • Faster business growth
  • Better employee retention, satisfaction and productivity

Cons

  • Isolation and loneliness
  • Lack of face-time
  • Difficulty building relationships with clients
  • You could lose credibility
  • It can be easy to fall out of routine

Types of businesses you can run remotely

Even though there are several drawbacks to running a remote business, you can overcome most of them by organizing your work and personal life and following some best practices. However, not all businesses can or should be run remotely.

Businesses you can manage successfully online typically require very little face-to-face interaction and don’t require your physical presence to operate. Most businesses that fit this description are service-oriented businesses such as:

  • Web design firms
  • Recruiting agencies
  • eCommerce and dropshipping businesses
  • Graphic design firms
  • Content writing, editing and/or transcribing businesses
  • Online research agencies
  • Digital marketing agencies
  • Customer service outsourcing
  • Virtual assistant services
  • Bookkeeping and accounting
  • Financial service companies
  • SEO/Marketing consulting
  • Programming and software development
  • Blogs, etc.

On the other hand, businesses that cannot or should not be run 100% online for various reasons include:

  • Foodservice businesses
  • Hair and beauty salons
  • Childcare businesses
  • Auto repair shops
  • Home improvement businesses

13 Steps to start a remote business

Step #1: Make a clear and actionable remote business plan

When starting any business, remote or not, it’s important to have a clear and actionable plan in place. However, this is especially true when you’re starting a remote business since there are a few extra things you need to consider.

Your remote business plan should include the following:

  1. Your business goals and objectives
  2. The target market for your business
  3. The products or services you offer
  4. How you’ll structure your company
  5. The marketing and advertising strategy you’ll use
  6. The sales process you’ll follow
  7. The financials for your business, including budgeting and how you’ll track expenses and revenue
  8. How you’ll handle customer service
  9. The technology you’ll need to operate your business effectively
  10. Your staffing needs and plans

Without clarity on every one of these items, it’ll be very hard to start your business and get it off the ground, particularly when moving on to step #3.

Step #2: Get a good laptop and internet connection

If you plan on running your business remotely, a good laptop and a fast and reliable internet connection will be the two most important things you’ll need.

Ideally, you want to get a lightweight and portable laptop so you can take it with you when you travel (you’ll probably be doing a lot of that). It should also have enough battery life and processing power to handle any software or apps you need to use for your business.

As for your internet connection, make sure you have a plan with enough data to cover all of your business needs. It sometimes helps to have a backup internet connection in case your primary connection fails in an inopportune time. If you plan to travel, make sure to sign up for a good international wireless internet plan that covers you in all your destination countries.

Step #3: Register your business

The next step is to officially register your business. This process will be different depending on where you’re located and the type of business you’re starting, but in general, you’ll need to choose a business structure (e.g., LLC, sole proprietorship, etc.), obtain any licenses or permits required by your state or local government, and get a federal tax ID number.

Unlike starting a brick & mortar business, you’re not tied to your home country when registering your online business. Some countries allow foreigners to set up businesses there to attract tax money and investments, and others, like Estonia, will even give you an e-citizenship. This is something to keep in mind when running your numbers.

Step #4: Secure funding for your business

The next step is to secure funding for your business if needed. When starting an online business, the startup costs are often lower than a brick & mortar business since you don’t need to worry about things like rent, utilities, and inventory.

That said, you will still need enough money to cover your initial costs like domains and hosting, website design and development, marketing, and any contracted services you may need. You’ll also want to secure enough resources to cover payroll while you start to gain momentum towards a profitable business.

There are a few different ways to fund your business, including personal savings, loans from family and friends, small business loans, credit cards, and crowdfunding.

Pro-Tip: With blockchain technology adoption growing and the metaverse under active development, new and exciting ways to fund a new business are popping up using NFTs or non-fungible tokens.

Step #5: Create an awesome website

Now it’s time to start building your online presence with a great website. Your website will be the foundation of your business, so it’s important to get it right from the start.

There are a few key things you’ll want to keep in mind when designing your website:

  • Make sure it’s mobile-friendly
  • Keep it simple and easy to navigate
  • Use high-quality visuals and content
  • Choose a good and reliable web hosting service

Pro-Tip: You may feel tempted to design and build your website yourself. However, remember that this is one of the most important parts of any remote business, so unless you’re an experienced web developer, you should outsource this task and leave it to the pros.

Step #6: Set up flexible banking and payments

Since you’ll be doing business online, you’ll need to set up a banking and payment system that’s flexible and easy to use and that allows easy international transfers with low fees. This way, you can accept payments from anywhere in the world without any hassle, and you’ll be able to pay your remote staff easily, no matter where they are.

There are a few different options to choose from, including PayPal, Stripe, Square, and Amazon Payments, but that’s just the most popular tip of the iceberg. Financial services like Wise and Payoneer also help take the guesswork out of managing multi-currency accounts. These platforms have their pros and cons, so it’s important to do your research before settling on one.

Pro-Tip: Embrace crypto as a preferred payment method. Cryptocurrencies allow fast, borderless transactions between parties anywhere in the world with a transparent fee structure that is almost always lower than in the traditional banking system. Once received, you can keep payments as crypto or convert them to fiat currencies.

Step #7: Choose the right online collaboration stack

Since you’ll be managing a remote team, choosing the right tools to help with collaboration, communication, spend management, and productivity is important. There are a plethora of options out there, but some of our favorites include Slack, Zoom, Trello, Asana, Google Workspace, and Microsoft 365. Each team will have different needs, so it’s important to try out a few different options before settling on the right tool stack for your business.

Pro-Tip: Jump into the metaverse early on by using VR-based online collaboration tools like Meta’s Horizon Workrooms, Microsoft’s Team’s Mesh integrations and the many other virtual worlds specifically designed for remote work.

Step #8: Fine-tune your onboarding process

The onboarding process is critical for remote businesses. After all, you’ll be working with people from all over the world, so it’s important to make sure everyone is on the same page from the start. There are a few key things you’ll want to keep in mind when onboarding new team members:

  • Make sure they have all the information needed to get started
  • Help them understand your company culture
  • Give them a point of contact
  • Set clear expectations

Pro-Tip: Set up clear SOPs, guidelines, and policies for your remote team, and ensure everyone has access to them. This will help avoid misunderstandings and miscommunications down the road.

Step #9: Put extra time into hiring new talent

Since you won’t benefit from in-person interaction when hiring new team members, it’s important to put extra time into making sure you’re hiring the right people. In addition to the usual screening process, you’ll want to make sure you’re doing video interviews and reference checks.

Pro-Tip: Hire slowly and fire quickly. Take your time and hire the right person instead of rushing into a bad decision. However, if someone isn’t working out, don’t be afraid to let them go quickly. The sooner you do, the better off your business will be.

Step #10: Invest in employee development

One of the benefits of a remote workforce is that employees can work from anywhere globally, allowing them to learn new skills and grow their careers. As a remote business owner, it’s important to invest in employee development and ensure your team has access to the resources they need to learn and grow.

Pro-Tip: Offer training and development programs, both online and offline. This will help keep your team members engaged and motivated, and it will help them stay up-to-date on the latest trends in their field.

Step #11: Foster a culture of trust

Since you won’t see your team members face-to-face, it’s important to foster a culture of trust that makes employees feel comfortable when speaking up and sharing their ideas. You can do this by establishing clear communication guidelines and creating an environment where employees feel comfortable taking risks.

Step #12: Set up regular meetings

It’s important to set up regular one-on-one and team meetings to check in on progress and give feedback. This will help employees feel supported, and it will also provide an opportunity for you to address any issues that may arise.

Step #13: Schedule regular informal meetups and celebrate your successes

Last but not least, don’t forget to celebrate your successes. This is especially important for remote teams, as it can be easy to feel disconnected from the rest of the world. Make sure you take the time to celebrate milestones and accomplishments, both big and small.

Even if not to celebrate anything in particular, it’s also good to set up informal meetups (in person if you can, or virtually if not) to keep everyone connected.

The bottom line

Running a remote business can be challenging, but it also has a lot of benefits. In this post, I’ve outlined 13 steps to help you get started. These tips will help you establish clear communication guidelines, foster a culture of trust and set up regular meetings. By remembering to celebrate your successes and stay connected with your team members, you’ll be well on your way to success. Running a remote business may take some extra effort, but it’s definitely worth it!

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