For years, my husband and I have talked about selling everything – including our home and furniture – and living on the road. He is a truck driver and loves traveling throughout the country. I love the idea of being able to chuck it all and hit the road with my man. How would I run my company? The same way I do now.
For those of you who have entertained this not-so-crazy idea too, here are a few tips to get you started:
- Hire an excellent virtual assistant. One of the smartest things I did was hire Ashley, my right-hand lady. She manages the company finances, handles payroll, schedules meetings, coordinates travel arrangements and assists with a variety of other projects. Did I mention that she lives in another part of the country?
- Hire competent people who are comfortable working from home and working independently. You want them to be comfortable communicating with you via e-mail, conference calling and Skype. Basically, if they never saw you in person, you need them to be okay with that. If they need constant attention and are high maintenance, don’t hire them.
- Set up a toll-free number for your clients. Use a service where calls received through the toll-free number are routed to your cell phone, giving your clients access to you no matter where you are. I use RingCentral and recommend it.
- Establish an online office for you and your employees to post documents, maintain your calendars and keep track of projects. WebEx was fortunate enough to earn my business a few years ago. The interface is user-friendly, and my associates and I like it a lot.
- Develop processes, procedures and systems. The more you streamline your business practices, the more you and your employees can work independently. The freed-up time and energy then allows you to focus on meeting clients’ needs and being creative.
- Implement an online payroll system. Paying your employees without delay is essential. QuickBooks offers an easy system for your employees to enter their work hours online and get paid through direct deposit. No paychecks are mailed.
- Get your mail forwarded to you on a regular basis. The U.S. Postal Service has a service where they can forward your mail to you on a weekly basis for a nominal fee. Pick a location where you can accept mail on a regular basis (weekly, biweekly or monthly, for example) and arrange for your mail to be forwarded there.
- Sign up for Google Voice. A friend recently told me about this great service. Signing up for Google Voice has allowed me to select a number to distribute it to my family members and friends. I programed the service so that when people call the Google Voice number, it rings to my cell phone and landline. That way, my family and friends can call just one number – and not multiple ones – to reach me. And five years from now, even if my cell phone number and landline numbers change, the Google Voice one most likely will not.
- Pay your bills online. I pay my bills online through different options. In some cases, I have authorized vendors to debit the bill amounts from my bank account each month. In other cases, I use my bank’s online bill payment system. I enter the merchant information, amount and date the bill is due, and my bank takes it from there. No paper, no stamps and no problems!
- Buy an Internet modem. No matter where I am in the country I can securely access the Internet. How? On the advice of a friend and mentor, I purchased a Verizon USB760 modem. Love it! I have used this device from family members’ living rooms, numerous hotel rooms and building lobbies. The monthly fee is reasonable.
How about you? What other tips do you have? Do you have any companies that make your virtual life easier?
I have not and will not receive any compensation from any of the vendors mentioned in this article. These are my personal opinions and experiences that I have had and want to share.