The Challenges of Virtual Business

Share this article

One great part of working for yourself is that many of us get to do it all from home. In my business, very rarely do I have an opportunity to meet clients face-to-face or do any kind of on-site work. This works well for me and the type of work that I do. I finish work quicker; I’m able to do more; and I benefit from more solid productive work time. If you work virtually, you probably face a completely different set of challenges than those who don’t. Working virtually is not as easy as it seems, but there are ways to overcome to challenges brought about by a virtual arrangement. Challenge: Building Trust Before doing business with someone, there needs to be some level of trust between the two parties. As humans, we trust (and hire) other people, and their faces, voices and personalities all play a part in our decision-making. It’s very hard for most people to get that same level of trust when you are working in a completely virtual environment. Selling your services can be more difficult and you may have to work twice as hard. Here are some ways you can add a personal element to your business to facilitate trust building:
  • Set up telephone conferences with potential clients
  • Write a blog with a personal voice
  • Participate in social networking
  • Add videos to your website or blog
  • Provide references
  • Include a photo of yourself on your website
Challenge: Communication A common worry for clients hiring a virtual professional is that they may disappear and the client will not have a way to find them. Without an in-person connection it can be difficult for clients to feel confident that the person they are hiring will be available during the project. The best way to deal with this challenge is by providing consistent communication by:
  • Being responsive to all e-mails and phone calls
  • Setting up regular check-ins via phone, Skype or instant message
  • Making sure there is clarity around the roles and responsibilities of the project
  • Addressing any issues that arise quickly
Challenge: Information Sharing
In my business, I’ve had to develop a process for sharing information back and forth with clients and subcontractors to ensure everyone has the necessary data to complete their tasks. With clients, this is usually done via e-mail or snail mail, in some cases. With subcontractors, I use a project management system that allows each of us to have access to the information we need. With any kind of virtual collaboration, it’s vital that you:
  • Identify the information you need
  • Have a system for filing the information in an accessible way
  • Log and archive the data during and after the project
  • Provide a secure and reliable system for data storage and sharing
The bottom line with any kind of virtual work is that you want your clients and prospective clients to get to know you and the way you work. Just because you are not working face-to-face does not mean the relationship dynamic should be any less structured; it’s just a different dynamic. Trust may be a little harder to achieve, but it is even more important when creating sustainable virtual relationships. Do you work virtually? What do you do to assure clients who may be used to in-person relationships? Image credit: Sanja Gjenero

Frequently Asked Questions about Virtual Business

What are the main challenges of running a virtual business?

The main challenges of running a virtual business include communication difficulties, lack of personal interaction, and managing a remote team. It can be hard to build a strong team culture when everyone is working remotely. Also, it can be difficult to monitor employee productivity and ensure everyone is staying on task. However, these challenges can be overcome with the right tools and strategies, such as using project management software and scheduling regular video conferences.

How can I ensure effective communication in a virtual business?

Effective communication in a virtual business can be achieved through various digital tools like email, video conferencing, and instant messaging apps. Regular meetings and updates are also crucial to keep everyone on the same page. It’s also important to establish clear communication guidelines to ensure everyone knows how and when to communicate.

What are the benefits of running a virtual business?

Running a virtual business offers several benefits such as reduced overhead costs, flexibility, and access to a global talent pool. Without a physical office, you can save on rent, utilities, and other expenses. Also, you and your employees can work from anywhere, providing greater work-life balance. Plus, you can hire the best talent from around the world, not just in your local area.

How can I build a strong team culture in a virtual business?

Building a strong team culture in a virtual business involves regular communication, team-building activities, and recognition of employees’ efforts. You can schedule virtual team-building activities like online games or happy hours to foster camaraderie. Also, recognizing and rewarding employees’ hard work can boost morale and motivation.

How can I monitor employee productivity in a virtual business?

Monitoring employee productivity in a virtual business can be done through project management tools that track tasks and deadlines. Regular check-ins and updates can also help you stay on top of everyone’s progress. However, it’s important to trust your employees and not micromanage their every move.

What are some best practices for running a virtual business?

Some best practices for running a virtual business include setting clear expectations, using the right tools, and prioritizing communication. It’s important to clearly communicate your expectations regarding work hours, deadlines, and communication. Also, using tools like project management software, video conferencing, and instant messaging can facilitate communication and collaboration.

How can I ensure data security in a virtual business?

Ensuring data security in a virtual business involves using secure networks, implementing strong password policies, and educating employees about cybersecurity. You can also use encryption tools and secure cloud storage to protect sensitive data.

How can I attract customers to my virtual business?

Attracting customers to your virtual business involves effective online marketing strategies like SEO, social media marketing, and content marketing. Offering excellent customer service and a user-friendly website can also help attract and retain customers.

How can I handle customer service in a virtual business?

Handling customer service in a virtual business involves being responsive, empathetic, and solution-oriented. You can use email, live chat, and social media to interact with customers. Also, using customer relationship management (CRM) software can help you track and manage customer interactions.

How can I scale my virtual business?

Scaling a virtual business involves investing in technology, hiring the right people, and streamlining processes. As your business grows, you may need to upgrade your tech tools to handle increased demand. Also, hiring more employees or outsourcing certain tasks can help you manage growth. Plus, streamlining processes and automating tasks can improve efficiency and productivity.

Alyssa GregoryAlyssa Gregory
View Author

Alyssa Gregory is a digital and content marketer, small business consultant, and the founder of the Small Business Bonfire — a social, educational and collaborative community for entrepreneurs.

Share this article
Read Next
Get the freshest news and resources for developers, designers and digital creators in your inbox each week
Loading form