A behind the scenes look at the organizational growth strategies of some of the most successful virtual companies
In the not-too-distant past, working from home was code for taking a day off. Small and medium-sized companies had a geographical limit in where they could operate. Even businesses in major metropolitan regions could only expand so far in their organizational growth strategies.
Today, some of the most well-known companies are exploring work-from-home options, and it’s not unusual for fast-growing startups to have an entirely distributed team.
While some companies prefer slow, steady growth, and others are trying to attract investors and expand quickly, there are some common organizational growth strategies that every virtual business follows.
8 Organizational growth strategies that work
1. Figure out what growth means to you
If you don’t know what your growth goal is, you’ll never be able to tell if you are meeting your potential. Set a goal. Set metrics that promote movement and lead in that direction. Do you want to triple your sales this year? Do you want to repay your investors within 18 months? Do you want to be a thought leader in your field? Maybe you’d simply like to hire enough of the right people that you can take a vacation?
2. Be prepared to make mistakes
Any new company has to face a learning curve. As a virtual workplace, that can be an especially steep curve. Like anything in life, though, if you learn from your mistakes, you’ll improve because of them. Alex Turnbull, of Groove HQ, describes how his overworked team and a decline in productivity taught him lessons that led to a more sustainable company culture. “Growth that’s achieved at an unsustainable workload is just that: unsustainable.”
3. Standardize your processes
Writing for the Harvard Business Review, Ron Carucci points out that, “standardized processes liberate creativity because they free up distracted energy that’s consumed by reinventing approaches every time something is done. Over time, organizations without standardized processes become a mass of confusion, redundancies, and cost overruns.”
The important caveat to this is to realize that your processes can, and may need to change over time. Standardization doesn’t mean stagnation.
4. Find the right people
Hiring the right people is one key to successful growth, but you have to find them first. The beauty of a virtual company is that you can hire people from anywhere in the world. So where can you look? Job sites like Monster and Indeed have their place, but for finding experienced remote employees, specialized job sites are a better, more targeted option. Some of the most active job boards are:
5. Hire the right people
HelpScout co-founder Nick Francis says that a remote employee “has to be great at managing his or her priorities and working autonomously for large blocks of time with little to no management.” Previous experience working remotely is ideal, but you may find that special someone who hasn’t had the opportunity to work virtually, but can’t wait to get out of the office environment.
6. Onboard new hires quickly
Starting a new job is challenging enough in a traditional office. A remote company has to go above and beyond when it comes to onboarding new people. When you make the decision to hire someone, make time to work with them setting up the tools they need to communicate and succeed. Invite them to Slack, share your company Google folders with them, and make yourself available to guide them and answer questions.
Pagely, a managed WordPress hosting platform, uses “a master Trello board we copy for each hire that lays out in detail the access needed/given, the benefits enrollment process (zenefits.com), notes about our culture, and who to talk to about a given topic.”
Worldwide 101, a virtual assistant company, mixes video meetings with a “Digital Vault with onboarding videos, guides, and a knowledge base.”
At Envato, an online marketplace for creative assets, new hires are paired with a “Wing Buddy” to mentor and guide them.
7. Don’t neglect a sales team
Depending on the size of your company, you may need a full sales team, or you may only need one person. In any case, you need to make sales in order stay in business and grow. What that means to you, whether it’s inbound marketing or cold calling, is not as important as making sure there is a dedicated person or team to manage that duty.
8. Keep your team motivated
ScrapingHub director Pablo Hoffman told Entrepreneur magazine that the key to a thriving work culture isn’t productivity, but motivation. “Productivity is fueled by motivation. So, rather than asking how to keep your workers productive, you should ask how to keep them motivated.”
One of the final secrets behind successful remote companies is a coach. At Sophaya, we pride ourselves on helping executives learn to thrive in a virtual work environment. Get in touch today to find out how we can help you forge a path to creating the company of your dreams.
Photo by Markus Spiske