As winner of StartupNation’s Home-Based 100 Competition as #1 Most Innovative, I thought it would make sense for my inaugural post to be about managing a home-based business and a bit about how our home business is run remotely too. The four co-founders of Blank Label Group are now working from 4 completely different locations: Orange County, where our CTO is, Boston, where our CEO is, and Shanghai, where our Lead Artist and our Lead Evangelist, me, are, although our Lead Artist and myself work out of completely independent home offices here in Shanghai. After having run the group’s brands remotely for almost all of the 16 or so months we’ve been in business, here are a few tips we have to share for other entrepreneurs looking to build a home-based business with a remote team.
1. Set up a quiet room
This is pretty important because while you don’t need a fully decked out office space, you at least need some working space in your home that is completely separate from the rest of the world because being at home can lead to many, many distractions, turning many of the efficiencies of working at home into inefficiencies.
2. Schedule work times
Working independently, without the encouragement or atmosphere of other busy worker bees around you, it’s easy to be super flexible with your day-by-day schedule, allowing hours of precious work time to slip by more and more frequently, until you realize you’re not even working anymore, so the best way for you to run a business from home and ensure you’re putting in quality effort is by scheduling work times when 110% of your concentration during that time is on your work and nothing else because if you allow even 5% of your head space to be occupied by personal matters, you will not be spending enough time or energy on your work, making less-than-satisfactory progress.
3. Schedule personal times
Conversely, you want to make sure to schedule personal times too so you can unwind and make sure you’re staying healthy both with body and mind, plus giving yourself time to breathe when you’re not working, otherwise you can probably work yourself silly since you never think about the traffic on the late commute home, that it’ll be too dark outside to travel home, etc.
4. Schedule weekly or twice weekly visits with team members
You can schedule Skype video chats or simple phone calls with your team to review work that’s been done, progress, and responsibilities for the next few days or week. This way, everyone’s accountable even though you’re not reporting to each other at the weekly conference meeting in a big conference room. Instead, as the manager of your business working with remote members, you’re making sure everything is running smoothly and you’re checking in frequently enough so that team members don’t feel they’ve lost touch. You also can ensure enough progress is being made and that lack-of-progress is caught and dealt with early enough so that it doesn’t become a chronic problem, or even worse, a problem you discover one month later.