running a business remotely

Running a Business Remotely

Can Long Distance Relationships Really Work?

Bottle & Bottega (est. 2010) is a unique business with a unique business model. I live in California, while Stephanie King-Myers, my partner, resides in Chicago. We talked and planned to ensure we could make this long distance relationship work, coming up with a business model based on technology and trust. Today, the company has eight locations across the U.S. and continues to grow.

Before buying an ownership stake in Bottle & Bottega, I worked remotely for eight years, managing teams across the country in every time zone, so I knew with the right planning, technology and team, Stephanie and I could make it work to our advantage. The great thing about franchising is that franchisees don't really care where you live - they just want to know that you'll be there when they need help. I definitely feel our out-of-the-box approach made us a more productive and effective organization right from the start.

There are quite a few advantages of running a company virtually. Most significantly, we're able to hire the best talent from across the country because we're not limited to one city. For example, our headquarters is in Illinois and I'm based in California, but we also have staff members in Tennessee, Arizona and Massachusetts. Working virtually also gives everyone a tremendous work-life balance, meaning we're all so much more productive than we'd be if we worked in a large office with all the distractions that go along with it.

We use technology to our full advantage - probably more so than many businesses! All of our business systems are web-based. We can all see information and documents in real time. This eliminates the need to write time-consuming update reports or schedule calls to understand what's going on. Our systems have amazing dashboards that give me analytics in an easy-to-digest format so I can quickly follow up on any gaps or issues. That means conversations are more strategic and we can focus on results, not catching up. The result is incredibly high productivity.

Of course, running a company virtually does have unique challenges, especially trust and communication. Not everyone is cut out to work remotely - it requires self-motivation and discipline to work from home. We also know that communications can break down quickly if we are not paying attention, and we all need to be on the same page strategically if we want to continue growing the business. Thus, our quest to find the best way to stay on the same page is never-ending.

If you're thinking about running your business remotely, make sure to consider both sides before jumping into it. Above all, you need to be honest about the type of leader you are. You absolutely have to be okay with the fact that you won't know what your team is doing at every minute of the day. However, if you select the right team, that won't matter - what does matter is the end results. Make sure your business uses technology and has communication systems in place so everyone can stay connected in real time. There are countless tools out there that fit this purpose. Research every option, try them out, and find what works best for your team. If you're lucky, you just might find that running a remote business is the best strategy for you.

Nicole Breit  |