In late 2017, my wife and I did the unthinkable. We packed up our home and moved our kids from Illinois to Nashville, Tennessee. Not only did this mean moving far from friends, but it also meant moving away from my financial planning business, Alliance Wealth Management.
All of a sudden, I would need to manage my business remotely. Fortunately, I had some experience in this area. Since I have been running my personal finance blog, GoodFinancialCents.com, and insurance site, LifeInsurancebyJeff.com, from home for years, I've gotten used to managing from afar.
Still, learning to run a brick-and-mortar business from a distance is different. My financial planning firm has an office, after all, and I have employees who rely on me. Through thick and thin, however, I've vowed to make it work. And I have, but only after learning some very valuable business lessons along the way.
The importance of the test run
If trying to run a seven-figure business remotely sounds scary, you would be correct. Fortunately, I had the wherewithal to make sure I had the right systems in place and enough emotional capacity to make it work. I tested the idea of managing my business remotely with a few test runs first, mostly via working from home or coffee shops versus going into the office.
Doing this allowed me to identify where issues could arise. As I started finding and fixing issues, I then started working remotely 2-3 days each week. Once I got to the point where I was only in the office one day per week, it was smooth sailing and much easier to step away.
Technology is amazing
If I were trying to run a business ten years ago, there is no way I could accomplish as much as I do today. There are so many great tools available to entrepreneurs and small business owners these days that it makes me wonder if brick and mortar businesses will even exist in the future.
Thanks to technology, I can stay in touch with my team with Slack, use Dropbox to share client files, use Zoom for conference calls, use DocuSign when signatures are needed, and use BombBomb to record video and sync it with our inboxes for easy messaging. With so many amazing tools, I can almost run my office completely without even being there.
Hire the right people
After joining a coaching program several years ago, I took a personality test called Kolbe that helped me learn a lot about myself and the type of people I needed to hire in order to thrive. These days, every new hire takes the Kolbe quiz so I can determine if they're a good fit.
So many business owners say they need an assistant or a marketing person without realizing everything that person needs to do for the business to be successful. By having my employees take this test and making lists of exactly what I need from them, I ensure I am building my dream team with each new hire.
Document and process everything
Like many entrepreneurs, I used to be guilty of trying to do it all. But, over time, I've learned it's much better to delegate. In order to grow, you really do need to simplify everything you do.
One of the first steps to simplification is creating processes that show others how to handle different aspects of your business. To do this, I used a program called Sweet Process. This technology made it easy for me to create a process and a video that explains each task I do.
With these videos, anyone can complete a task on their own without any hands-on training.
Check-ins are a must
When you're not in the office every day, it's tempting to assume all is well. But, you could be missing some big problems if you never check in.
Fortunately, Slack, email, and text, make it easy to keep in touch. Still, it's also important to have frequent face-to-face check-ins just to make sure your employees aren't letting anything fall through the cracks.
This is where Zoom - the video conferencing tool - comes into play. With Zoom, my team and I can have some face time, share screens, and also share links and chat in real-time.
While the five reasons listed above were crucial in my journey toward running a successful business remotely, the biggest lesson I've learned is that, despite whatever challenges come my way, being a CEO from a distance is possible. It takes time, the right tools, and the right people to get everything working as it should. But in the end, it's worth it.