We spoke to Stewart Bell from Audere Coaching and Consulting about how he hires, manages and trains his team and what he advises his clients need to do to successfully grow their businesses.
Tell us a little about your business, how you started and what you do?
My business is Audere Coaching & Consulting and I coach those who make their living providing advice to others to build business models that scale.
My clients are typically financial advisers, accountants and mortgage brokers and I work with them though a community-based coaching program that I built called Leveraged.
I've actually been working in consulting for about 15 years, but it wasn't until I read Tim Ferriss's 4-Hour Work Week in 2007 that it rewired my brain and send me on the path I'm on now.
Along the way there was allsorts of insights into online business models, launching a startup incubator, a book and a bunch more to indulge my inner nerd. I love it!
Tell us a little about your entire team
There's me and I'm supported by a team of three Audere staff.
Nina is our Business Manager and she is the one that keeps it all on an even keel (and stops me from making a mess where I shouldn't be involved, like my diary).
Rose is our Digital Marketing Manager and a whirlwind of online implementation. She's built our members site single handedly and then some.
Rachel is our onshore staff member, currently on maternity leave, and looks after making sure that our clients get the red carpet treatment.
Outside of that, we have a number of people who help us with everything from graphic design to video production to print media. It's a true outsourced "Hollywood" model.
What made you start thinking about building a remote team?
It just didn't make sense as a business, for a few reasons including our lack of physical address, to hire of full time onshore team member. I'd toyed with onshore staff not in the same office, but the experience wasn't great.
I saw a few others I respected making it work and realised that it was a logical next step.
It also forced me to think more deeply about how the business systems should look and what I should and shouldn't be doing. After a false start with another outsourcing company, I connected with GMT and haven't looked back.
What have been the biggest benefits of having remote team members
Being able to find the quality of team member without being limited to physical location has opened us up to a wider range of candidate.
It's also forced us to be very clear about who does what, the way we communicate and the systems that make the business work. It's almost like it's forced us to think about how to create a true business, instead of simply a vehicle for my consulting work and the inherent dependence on me that would have created.
Your top tips for managing a remote team
1. Start mapping your processes. This is vital. As Bill Gates said, "If you add people to an already inefficient process it only makes the problem worse". This is magnified with outsourcing, because you can't lean over the desk and go direct. Video explainers can be your best friend with this.
2. Onboarding is key. What you do with your team member in the first 4 meetings during their first 1-2 weeks will set the tone from there on in. Be clear about how you want to work together, communicate, who does what and what you expect from day one.
3. Get a rhythm. If you try and manage communication on the fly, it'll fail. Get regular touchpoints, including Monday and Friday debriefs and quarterly Virtual Planning Days. Get to know each other as people too, as you would anyone you work with. Share virtual pizza :)
4. IF and THEN task assignments. Nothing will kill outsourcing faster than feeding your team individual tasks. They'll finish them faster than you can assign. Think like a programmer when assigning tasks, giving logical next steps to follow. If x happens, then do y. If z happens, then email them and ask for a, except when b happens, then let me know etc.