Digitalise Your Business and Take it to the Next Level

26 June 2020

Thanks to the Coronavirus pandemic, learning how to run a digital business – or work for one – has become a necessity. And with a return to the way things were unlikely anytime soon and a workforce becoming evermore contented with the perks of working remotely, the time is now to fully digitalise.

Our company was started with every team member working from home. We’ve since expanded to have people “on the ground” to better serve our customers, but most of what we do remains entirely in the digital realm. This crisis, though, has us going back to our roots. 

This guide is a compilation of the things we’ve learned over the years that we think are important for running a successful digital business built with remote teams. 

Read on to see how you can apply them to your business and adapt to this ongoing crisis.

Photo by McKinsey on Rawpixel

Organisation

Since everyone in a digital business is essentially working in isolation from home, one of the most important components of success is organisation. To work from home successfully, you must be organised in everything you do, starting with how you manage your personal life. 

Use Your Time Wisely

Getting into a routine is very important. Wake up at the same hour (or close to it), be deliberate about how you spend your time and make a plan about what you’re going to do for the day – preferably the night before – and stick to it as much as you can, ensuring you prioritise what’s most important.

In addition, make sure to include in your plan things like catch-up calls with friends and workmates, as well as breaks and time away from work for yourself; the idea isn’t to fill your day with work tasks but rather to be sure that your day is being used in a constructive way. There are a lot of distractions at home that can make this difficult. But a good routine and approach to time management will help keep them at bay so that you can be productive and successful while working remotely.

Top Tips

Use an online calendar tool and make sure to keep it updated and public so that the people who need to reach you can easily figure out how to do so. 

You’ll also want to encourage the rest of your team to do the same and to get into the practice of simply scheduling meetings during times that are marked as available, saving time. Of course, this only works if your calendar is up-to-date, so you’ll want to make sure you’re making this a priority as well. 

But go further than just scheduling appointments and meetings. If you need time to work on something, block a few hours off and tell people you’re not available. Or, conversely, set up a time on your calendar when you are available so that people know when and how to reach you. 

Applications

As you might expect, there are tons of tools out there you can use to help make it easier for you to organise yourself and your business and be more effective when working from home. 

We’ve discussed calendars already, and the two classics out there are Google Calendar and Outlook. Most people are familiar with one or both of these platforms and should have no trouble making more use out of them to manage their time better. 

Another thing you need to keep organised are your files. Apps such as Confluence, MediaWiki, Nuclino, and Notion all allow you to store and share long-form information – outlines, infographics, workflows, etc. – on the cloud so that everyone can access them when they need them, as well as discuss and ask questions where needed. 

There are many more applications you can use, but no matter which you decide to use, make sure that when you introduce them you provide people with a tutorial that walks them through what they need to do and how and that also outlines standard practices, such as how to format things and who to notify when work is complete or ready to go. 

This will prevent anyone from spending too long thinking about this important but menial stuff, freeing them to focus on the more critical aspects of their job.

Another thing you need to keep organised are your files. Apps such as Confluence, MediaWiki, Nuclino, and Notion all allow you to store and share long-form information – outlines, infographics, workflows, etc.

Communication

After organisation, the next thing you will need to make your business operate in the digital realm is how to optimise communication, which, occurring entirely online, presents its own challenges. 

The first thing you’ll want to decide is how you’re going to communicate. Video chats using Zoom, Webex or Skype are great for longer meetings where there’s a lot to discuss and they will certainly form part of your communication mix. But how are you going to reach out to your colleagues and employees for the little stuff? Email isn’t dead, but it’s certainly not the best tool out there. 

Instead, we recommend you go with some sort of an instant messaging app such as Slack, Microsoft Teams, or Google Hangouts Chat, as these allow you to speak directly with people as soon as you need them. 

You also can, and should, create separate channels and threads that allow different groups to talk with one another when they need to. 

Photo by McKinsey on Rawpixel

Build Good Communication Amongst Your Teams

Here are some other things you should keep in mind when communicating with your remote teams: 

  • Make sure everyone (including you) checks their computer’s microphone and camera before a meeting starts to save the time wasted when someone has to fiddle with their hardware. 
  • Snooze or turn off other applications or devices while video chatting or speaking on the phone so that you can stay engaged with the task at hand. 
  • Pay attention to your status updates on instant messaging platforms and update them regularly so that people know to expect a response or not and when they might get one. 
  • Don’t spam people. Instant messaging can be fun, but no one wants to respond to endless notifications. Consider setting up a separate channel just for fun stuff so that those who want to share memes and photos can do so without bothering others.

Your Customers

Turning your business entirely digital is also going to have a significant impact on how you interact with your customers, which is a big deal since this is obviously going to affect your ability to generate new business and keep that which you already have. 

Getting in Touch

Depending on what type of business you are in, you may want to adopt a similar approach to what you’ve done internally. 

Use calendar apps such as Google Calendar or Outlook, as well as Calendly or Doodle, to schedule meetings with customers and allow them to make appointments. 

Others may want to consider using a messaging app, such as Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp, to interact with customers and help attend to their needs. 

Sharing Information

Videos are also going to be an essential communication tool for you as a digital business. They allow you to give tours to customers, introduce them to products, provide them with advice and guidance, and much more, all of which will help you service them and meet their needs. 

Of course, don’t forget social media. These platforms can be a great way to share news and updates about the company, along with information about what you’re doing to stay open can be really effective, as can content designed to help them cope with the many challenges they face. 

Have a Plan

Which strategies you implement will depend on your business and your customers, but no matter which you choose, it’s important you be consistent. Consider giving employees who don’t have experience working online some training on how to communicate online, introducing them to some etiquette and other rules of the road they may not know. 

It’s essential that you come up with some guidelines for how to communicate with customers so that you are projecting a unified voice and a strong brand every time you reach out to a customer in the digital world.

Recruiting

Digitalising your business also means you will need to change the way you recruit new employees. Luckily, there are lots of people out there who aren’t so new to working entirely online as you are, and they can be a great boon to your operation.

Websites such as Freelancer, Fiverr, and Upwork, are all hubs for the online labour market. There you can find highly-qualified individuals from a variety of fields with a wide range of experience. And these platforms make contacting people and setting up contracts quite easy. 

You can certainly use these platforms to find people to come work full-time, but they are also a great place to find temporary help or contracted work, which might be a good idea for you in the beginning as you adapt to the digital environment and have ever-changing needs.

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Innovation

Lastly, the lifeblood of every business is innovation. If you’re not constantly thinking about and implementing new ideas designed to better serve your customers, then you are going to eventually fall behind and fail. 

Fortunately, though, digitalising your business does not mean sacrificing innovation, even though you lose the excitement of in-person collaboration and brainstorming by being forced to do everything online. 

Here are some ways in which you can continue to innovate when your business becomes fully digital:

  • Adapt to be able to accept online and contactless sales. This is digital business 101, and the faster you do it during this crisis, the more successful you will be, as people tend to be more willing to go to businesses that are equipped to accept contactless payment.
  • Make it clear to people what you are doing to protect the health and safety of both your customers and employees. If you have a physical product, make sure to show lots of photos of your employees all decked out in PPE.
  • Think about how to deliver your service online. People are more receptive to video chatting and webinars than ever before, as well as other forms of online interaction, so think about how you can do this so that you can continue to offer your product and remain relevant to your customers. Some examples include schools adapting to distance learning, gyms offering training sessions via webcam, real estate agents showing properties via their mobiles, and restaurants providing tips and recipes via YouTube to stay connected with their customers.

Become a resource. While people are stuck at home, they are much more open to learning new things and expanding their knowledge. When you can, scratch this itch by providing informational content relevant to their lives. Doing this well will help establish you as an authority in your field and will increase the strength of your brand.

Conclusion

By focusing on organisation, communication, pleasing your customers, recruiting, and innovating, you will become a more successful business, and by thinking constantly about how to do these things well in a digital environment and by implementing the tools and strategies we’ve just discussed, you will be able to build this success while your entire team works from home. 

For those who have already undergone this process or who are in the middle of it now, what else have you learned that we didn’t mention? Do you have any tips that have helped you thrive in the digital world that you want to share with your fellow cyber employees? 

If so, please leave a comment below and let’s start the discussion.

Written by Cleoo team

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