It is for me, but some people can't wrap their head around the idea, asking me how I don't go completely bonkers from working at home or how I manage not to watch TV all day? Answers – how do most not go mad from wasting all that time commuting to work? And I hate daytime TV so its easy not to watch it!
In the interests of a balanced view, I'm going to talk about the good and the bad points of building a virtual business.
As a Mum, wife and entrepreneur that travels a lot my schedule can be very changeable from one week to the next. The very best bit of owning a virtual business is the flexibility it gives me to work anywhere! I can be in London, New York or San Diego and I can still run my business effectively. Having my office at home means I'm always here when my children get home from school or when my husband gets home from work so even though I'm super busy I'm not missing from our home.
For our clients, it means we don't mind hopping on a call in the evenings and this allows us to operate internationally.
The best thing about recruiting for a virtual business is that I can hire based on talent not location! Living in a small town means a smaller pool of recruitment talent, but operating virtually means I can have my team members anywhere in the country, or world for that matter, and this widens up the net dramatically.
No commuting, flexible hours, working from the comfort of home, savings in all areas plus the tax benefits = a very happy team.
Lower overheads = less stress in growing the business, better cashflow and not having to take every project that comes through the door means we can choose who we want to work with. It means we can invest more profits back into the business instead of simlpy paying the bills.
Although I'm getting better at this, when I was first starting out I would stay in my office till bedtime some nights. This resulted in a terrible night's sleep, burn out and an incredibly unhealthy unbalanced life but it was SO easy to slip into this bad habit. As hard as some have to work to take consistent action, I had to learn that working from home didn't mean I had to work all the time I was at home. This is especially hard when you love what you do, but its not healthy.
It can be lonely working from home, even when you have a team. Nothing beats a face to face conversation, and you can sometimes feel like you spend your life talking to people through a screen.
I'm fortunate that a couple of minutes in my car gets me to my favourite coffee shop when I need to escape these 4 walls. I sometimes get cabin fever and crave to get out of the office, which is compounded in the cold and dark winter months, but I've learned to recognise when my productivity dips its time to get into a different environment.
I takes a hell of a lot more effort to communicate effectively in a virtual team. Emails take longer, messsages can be interpreted slightly differently, the nuances in our tone of voice can indicate what we're really trying to communicate to someone else so you need to work really hard on that particular skill. Communication takes longer and cut into productivity, so supporting your team with the right tools can also really help (we use Teamwork) as well as building systems to manage projects to avoid communication issues.
I hope this article has helped you weigh up whether is a virtual business right for you. It is not for everyone but when you get the balance right, build in some great systems & hire the right team the rewards are incredible. Most of the members in my free business owner community are virtual business owners, you can join us here.
Are you thinking of starting a virtual business? Do you share my struggles? Comment below and share your thoughts!