By Samantha Garner | March 8, 2014
With the super-fast internet speeds that many of us enjoy, and the rise of free collaborative software like Skype and Google Docs, working remotely is easier than ever.
In fact, a new survey by oDesk suggests it might actually be good for business! It surveyed “digital nomads” – people who try “to live life as an adventure and take work with them as they go.” The survey showed that out of these digital nomads, who were less tied to a physical workplace, 79% felt they were more productive.
Digital nomads tend to self-identify as adventure-lovers and travelers, but that doesn’t mean that working virtually isn’t a possibility for everyday people. Not only can setting up a virtual office mean you get employees who are happier and more productive – it can save you money on overhead costs.
Here are some tips for a successful virtual office:
- Start small. If you run a small office, consider letting employees telecommute one day a week to test the waters.
- Make a plan for how you will operate the day-to-day business, including overseeing employees’ work.
- Get familiar with the different rules and regulations you may need to comply with, including zoning by-laws and tax regulations.
- Look for self-motivated, responsible employees with great communication skills who are good at working independently. Sounds like a lot, but they do exist!
- Establish regular “touch base” sessions, whether it be a weekly group Skype call or a one-on-one phone chat with each employee.
- Make sure you, and all your employees, have up-to-date computer operating systems and technology that’ll let you work collaborate and communicate. Some popular choices include Skype, Google Docs, Dropbox, and Evernote.
Check out our handy list of personal productivity tips to help keep yourself and your employees on track – no matter where you are.
By Samantha Garner | March 1, 2014
Educator and author Joanna Macy once spoke at a conference about three directions in which to look for your own purpose. We think these can apply to entrepreneurship too.
Take a look at each of these three directions and see how they apply to your goals and vision as a small business owner. How does it differ from the purpose of your business itself?
1) Work With Your Passion
Would you run your business for free? We’re not saying you should, but it’s a good indicator of how much you enjoy what you do. Approximately 15% of new business ideas are related to the entrepreneur’s hobby. Makes sense, right? If you start your small business around something you love doing and have passion for, chances are good that you’ll stay interested and engaged in the day-to-day tasks. You’re also more likely to stick with it if the going gets tough.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that your favourite hobby will automatically become a great small business. You may know a lot about your hobby, but it’s much different when it becomes a business. Make sure you do lots of research about the viability of your small business idea before you jump in.
2) Work With Your Pain
No, this doesn’t mean going to work even if you have a broken arm. Like passion, working with your pain can mean creating a small business around your desire to make the world a better place.
Social entrepreneurs, also known as philanthropist or non-profit entrepreneurs, measure success by the impact that they have on society. Highly passionate, the greater good of the community is their primary interest, and they create a business to provide solutions to social issues. The results can be very rewarding.
3) Work With What’s At Hand
Entrepreneurship doesn’t have to mean instant success, staggering riches, or flashy fame. Starting a small business with what’s at hand can be impactful and satisfying. How can you use your small business to respond to vital, yet everyday needs in your community? Some small businesses that fit this category are tutoring, meal delivery, home daycare, and that organic bakery your neighbours are demanding.
By Samantha Garner | February 22, 2014
Depending on the size of your small business, you might have a few employees you hired to take over certain tasks. Some of your employees may even be specialists in one certain field, like accounting or investor relations – a field you might not know much about. Do you ever feel like you should know more about what they do?
Should you know everything that goes on in your business?
Not necessarily. You hired these employees because you were confident in their knowledge and their ability to think critically and come to educated decisions. You probably saw that your business was growing, and needed help in a specific area. You understood two very important things: 1) You can’t do everything yourself in a growing small business; and 2) Even if you could, certain things are beyond your skill level.
You don’t have to understand every aspect of your business, but the important thing is that you have faith in the skills of your employees and resist the urge to micromanage.
How to manage and oversee employees without being controlling
- Consult trusted business advisors if you’re in doubt about an employee’s performance or skill set. Ideally, this would be someone whose experience aligns with that of the employee in question.
- Even if you don’t understand some of the more technical aspects of your employees’ roles, you’re still the one in charge. Have regular one-on-one meetings to make sure you and your employee are on the same page.
- Don’t be afraid to ask when you need clarification. It won’t make your employees think less of you. It’ll show you care about what they’re doing. It’ll also help you understand the way your business works.
- Educate yourself about the field your employee specializes in. Talk to people in your network, take a course – even ask your employee what they love about what they do. You don’t have to be an expert, but even a little knowledge will go a long way to understanding a part of your business you may be unfamiliar with.
By Samantha Garner | February 15, 2014
From networking to the Olympics, we read some great small business blog posts and articles this week, and we wanted to pass the inspiration onto our fellow entrepreneurs. Here are some of our favourites:
- The Introvert’s Survival Guide to Networking at Inc.
- Florida Woman Uses Online Freelance Business to Travel the World at Small Business Trends
- Inbound Marketing: Creating an Impact on a Shoe-String Budget at Small Business BC
- 4 Leadership Lessons From Canada’s Olympic Team at Huffington Post
By Samantha Garner | February 8, 2014
Being a successful business owner is about far more than profit. You’re a part of a business community, but the wider community as well. So it’s important to give back to that community, either through charity or volunteer work, whenever possible. Not only will you show that you and your business care about those around you – it’s just a good thing to do!
So, how can your business get involved with volunteering and charity?
Firstly, look for charities that you can relate to and believe in. Depending on the level of commitment you’re willing to offer, there are many different options within every community for charitable donations. Some small businesses sponsor sports teams, a community event, or a community project. Others make financial contributions on a regular basis.
If you’d rather donate your time, focus on your company’s strengths. If you’re an accounting firm, for example, you might provide assistance during tax season to single mothers or underprivileged families in filing taxes. If you own a construction company, you may consider gathering up a crew to pitch in and help build a domestic violence centre in your community, or contribute to the latest Habitat for Humanity project. If you’re a farmer, you may consider donating proceeds of a portion of your crop to the local food bank.
There are many ways to get involved and help out in your community that’ll make you feel great and also help to get your company name out in the media. Whenever possible, look at contributing to recurring opportunities like sponsoring a yearly marathon or providing an annual scholarship for a local college or university.
This charitable spirit doesn’t have to stop with you, either. Instill these values in your employees and communicate to your company the importance of giving back to the community. Consider charitable investments that are most in line with your company values and beliefs and make them a part of your corporate culture.
Donating can be easier than you think. Here’s one example: Hair salons have teamed up with Matter of Trust, a not- for-profit organization that uses hair clippings to make hair mats that are used to clean up oil spills. The hair clippings, which would have been swept up and disposed of anyway, are collected and donated to Matter of Trust to help contain spills.
Look at that — you could be socially responsible just by donating something that you would have thrown out anyway! As you can see, there’s a charitable option for just about every small business.