By Beth Santos (CEO, Go Girl Travel Network)
What kind of speakers will you see at our City Meetups? A founder who spoke at a Chicago event shares the surprises she encountered working remotely.
If you’re anything like me, when you started your business you really had no idea what you were doing. Or maybe you’re one of those people starting their business now and are in exactly this situation. The truth of the matter is that a lot of entrepreneurs have walked in your shoes. Entrepreneurship itself is an experiment that’s 20% knowledge/advice and 80% just figuring it out for yourself.
When I started Go Girl Travel Network, I had a lot of expectations about what running a business would look like. However, when your company is virtual, like mine, things are different from your everyday brick-and-mortar enterprise. Go Girl is an online resource and community for women travelers. Our 30 writers around the world share their travel tips for women, and our meetup groups in various hubs bring women travelers together for networking and events. With a heavy online presence and a wingspan around the globe, we’re not the same as a lot of the companies we see around us.
Nowadays, however, more and more companies are starting virtually. They don’t have a storefront location, and do much of their business online. In many ways they’re international without realizing they are. We are the new generation of businesses, and we’re growing.
Here are three things no one very told you about running a virtual business:
You Don’t HAVE to Get VC Funding
Venture capital is amazing. It helps you jumpstart your company, provides you instant access to great advice from experts, and on many occasions introduces you to a whole community of entrepreneurs. When I talk about my business, often one of the first questions I get asked is how I got VC funding. My answer is this: I didn’t. I bootstrapped my company. I opted for slow growth in exchange for full ownership. Both approaches have their own successes and challenges. But the most important thing is having a strong business model and the tools to move yourself forward.
Build Your Phone Skills
The minute I went full-time with Go Girl Travel Network, I added my cell phone into my email signature. As if prompted, I started getting business calls that day. I realized that phones still rule the business world. Let me make a correction: people with phone skills rule the business world. Since fewer and fewer people use the phone nowadays for business (especially in the virtual community), those who can speak eloquently and make deals verbally reign over everyone else. Trust me – it’s true.
You Need a Team More Than Anything
I think a lot of people who run virtual businesses rely heavily on contractors from places like Odesk or Elance. I know I couldn’t live without the people I’ve hired there.