Wondering what’s the best way to build a virtual team? If you’re an Atomic member, we hope you’ve noticed this one thing: Our membership is a well-oiled machine. So how do we keep everything running so smoothly? Are we naturally gifted, efficient geniuses? Are we working on it 24/7? Have we just gotten really, really lucky? Nope, we’ve realised that we can’t do it alone. We’ve spent time creating a virtual team — and, boy, has it paid off!
So in this video, we’re going to walk you through the steps you’ll need to build your own virtual team so your business will feel like a well-oiled machine too, giving you the free time you need to make more money and do more of the things you actually enjoy.
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If you’re an Atomic member, we hope you’ve noticed this one thing:
Our membership is a well-oiled machine.
So how do we keep everything running so smoothly? Are we naturally gifted, efficient geniuses? Are we working on it 24/7? Have we just gotten really, really lucky?
Nope, we’ve realised that we can’t do it alone. We’ve spent time creating a virtual team — and, boy, has it paid off!
By building a virtual team, we’ve gained flexibility in the business, we’ve broadened our skillset, and we’ve freed up our time so we can focus on the things that help us make money and the things we enjoy doing.
And we’d love to help you do the same.
So today, we’re going to walk you through the steps you’ll need to build your own virtual team, turn your business into a well-oiled machine, and gain the free time you need to make more money and do more of the things you actually enjoy.
What we’ve learned about building a virtual team
Building a virtual team is a cost effective way to scale your business without hustling your face off. We know this because over the last few years we’ve grown our team from the two of us to having over 14 team members working with us to ensure that everything in the business runs like clockwork.
Of course, it didn’t happen overnight. It’s taken us four years to create our team and we did it gradually, one person at a time.
But the good thing about it taking such a long time, is that we’ve had the time to internalise the lessons we’ve learned along the way — and we feel pretty confident that we’ve figured out the best ways to build a virtual team.
And the first lesson we’re going to share?
It’s all about your processes
We know, we know, this sounds like it’s going to be a snooze fest. But honestly? If you take nothing else away from this, please believe us when we say that NOTHING will make your life easier — whether you’re working alone or building a team — than creating robust processes for everything you do in your business, whether it relates to your bookkeeping, how you reply to emails, how you update your blog, or how you onboard new clients.
So do yourself a favour right now and come up with a step-by-step process that you need to complete these key tasks.
Here’s an example of what that looks like for us:
In our ATOMIC membership we run Accountability Sprints to give people the accountability they need to get stuff done. As part of that, we’ve created an entire process around setting up a sprint, breaking down the necessary tasks, from the registration form and the welcome emails to the follow up communication. And if you look at our project card in Asana, you can see every stage of the process has a task to tick off.
The benefits of setting up these processes is twofold: firstly it makes everything streamlined and super easy to follow — you’ll be able to see at a glance exactly what you have to do. Because you don’t have to worry about remembering all of the different moving parts, you’ll find you have extra time and headspace to dedicate to other areas of your business.
And secondly, it makes outsourcing the process to a virtual team member sooooo much easier because they too will be able to see at a glance what needs to be done, and they have a process to follow each time. Tick, tick, tick, done!
How to know what to outsource first
But even once you have the right processes in place, how do you know what to outsource first?
We’ve discovered that the key thing is to take on team members who add value and aren’t just an extra cost. And it’s an important lesson, because we’ve seen many small business owners spend time and money outsourcing stuff that doesn’t need to be done in the first place.
For example, say you HATE Twitter, so you decide to outsource your Twitter account. But your Twitter account doesn’t generate any business and actually, you get all of your customers from Instagram. That team member who’s working on your Twitter account is a cost, not an investment; ditching Twitter altogether and outsourcing your Instagram to someone who can generate even more leads via the platform would be a far better use of your money because you’ve already proven that Instagram works for you.
An even better use of your money in this scenario might be to outsource something like your bookkeeping so you have the time to up-level your Instagram performance yourself.
Either way, if you want to engage new team members who are going to add value to your business and be an investment, not just a cost, you need to make sure that they’re doing either activities that are already proven to bring you growth, or truly essential business activities that currently take up too much of your time and prevent you from making more money.
How to onboard a virtual team member
Okay, so you have a good idea about the tasks you want to outsource, but how can you be sure that the person you’re thinking of taking on is actually going to add value to your business.
We know that uncertainty can hold you back from pulling the trigger and building your team — we’ve been there! — so we’ve found a way to make the process easier. Every time a new member joins our team, they go through an onboarding process and a trial period.
Now, onboarding is a lot easier if, as we’ve already mentioned, you have robust processes in place, but even with step-by-step processes to follow, we reckon it takes around a solid month to onboard a new team member and show them the ropes. Of course, in that month we don’t necessarily expect it to go 100% smoothly and we appreciate that we’ll have to spend time teaching them how to do things the way we like them to be done.
And while that might sound like a hassle, we know that it’ll pay off in the long run; taking the time at the start to iron out the kinks means you can trust them just to get on with things in the future, so you can let go of that control and save yourself a tonne of time going forward.
The trial period
We also have a trial period of two months for every new team member.
This gives us enough time to make sure that they’re a good fit for us and vice versa. After the trial, we either take them on indefinitely or tell them that it’s not working out. If it’s the latter, having that trial period in place gives us (or them!) an easy out if things just aren’t working.
Why good communication channels are key
So you’ve figured out what to outsource, you’ve found your first team member(s), how do you actually make it all work?
We’ve already talked about how important it is to have your processes in place, and the thing that ties it all together is to have good communication channels.
And believe us, we’ve learned this the hard way…
When we first started building our team, we had some team members that communicated with us via text, some via emails, others used direct messages and we swear we had some messages sent via carrier pigeon! It was a mess. Especially as the team grew bigger and bigger.
So we solved the problem by sacking the pigeons and creating a central hub for our team, using Slack, a communications platform, and Asana, our project management software. With both Slack and Asana, we started on the free plan, which is going to be really useful for you too, whether you have a team of two or three, or 23 — we highly recommend them.
Having a centralised place, like Slack, where you can talk to your team members is a huge time saver and it ensures that nothing gets missed. And when you have all of your projects and processes in a tool like Asana, it’s really easy to manage who’s doing what, your deadlines, and what still needs to be done.
It just makes everything run more smoothly — and when you know everything is in hand, you have so much more time, energy, and headspace to dedicate to growing your business, making more money, and focusing on the aspects of your work that you really enjoy.
Or you can just make your team do your work and then have a long lie — whatever works for you!
Drop us a comment if there’s anything else you’d like to know about building a virtual team, it’s something we could talk about for days.