Working with virtual teams for small business has both advantages and drawbacks. There’s no question that the virtual world of workers has grown tremendously. As it grows, it opens up numerous opportunities for entrepreneurs to find uniquely qualified talent anywhere in the world.
In addition, working with a virtual team lowers the overhead costs to small business, when compared to having an office proper, carrying insurance for your staff, and even with tax withholding processes if you’re hiring on a Freelance or subcontractor basis. (Please note that I highly recommend you consult with your Accountant to determine your legal employment requirements).
For the solopreneur or micro-business, having a virtual team can be most rewarding. You only have so many hours in the day and when your business grows, you need to have the ability to expand quickly to meet that demand and keep your clients happy. A virtual team can alleviate a lot of stress and actually help grow your business when it’s put together and executed mindfully.
In particular working with virtual teams for small business requires:
– Excellent communication: No one on your team should ever have to wonder what they should be doing or where things stand. Set up a strict schedule for team communications and stick to it like glue. Determine the best means of communication for your team be it email, google talk or other communication medium.
– The ability to prioritize: This is especially important in deadline-driven work. If projects have a deadline, your team needs that information. Whether you use a spreadsheet or whiteboard to keep track of things, make notes about who is doing what and when their work should be completed. Ensure you follow through with your team members before the due by date to avoid any unpleasant surprises.
- Flexibility: Build “bumper room” into your projects. Life happens. Team members can get sick or have last minute problems come up. When this occurs, if you have no “bumper room”, rely on “excellent communication” and tell your client that there’s a brief delay (perhaps offer them a small bonus for the inconvenience).
- Clarity of Expectations: If there are specific expectations that you or a client has about a project, your virtual team needs that information in a clear, concise and consistent format. Never assume, always be explicit!
– Sound, suitable contracts / paperwork for all staff. If you need confidentiality waivers, get them. In fact, I recommend all small business owners have confidentialty agreements in place with their virtual team members. If you need a Freelance contract – get it signed complete with the remuneration and other terms clearly detailed.
Finally, watch your pacing. Whether you are offering services directly to your clients or require a team for your overall business succes, if you grow too quickly it’s easy to become overwhelmed. Many online teams use a FIFO system, letting clients know when they’re full for a specific assignment period to make sure everything gets done. Even when you’re working with virtual teams for small business growth and success – work smarter, not harder!
If you are a small business looking for team members, I recommend the VA Directory.