This is a Guest Post by Jonny Gibaud, founder of Emergency Food Storage.
So it is guest post month of Virtual Business Lifestyle and so fittingly I have written a quest post. I know, I am very much on the ball.
For those that have never heard of me, My names is Jonny and I am a traveling entrepreneur who gets my kicks from travelling and living and running businesses in different countries.
In this post we will look at three of my recent “office” environments from which I have been expanding one of my companies EFS Ltd, and take a quick gander at some experiences, “Definately Do’s” and “Definately Don’ts” that will hopefully help you in your own Virtual Business adventures. And so our little story begins in sunny England.
I cofounded the EFS company in Leeds, England as a solution to a problem that the market was yet to pick up on. I was still selling my soul as a Project Manager at the time with a Swiss engineering company called Sulzer and so those first few months demanded little sleep and copious amounts of Red Bull.
Substance abuse aside, starting your own company is an incredible feeling that nothing else can really come close to, though an evening with Jessica Alba is probably coming close to it. Whats more, in this new information age it is now even easier, cheaper and more lucrative than ever before to do so and thus I would recommend everyone gives it a go, if only once in their lifetime.
Definitely do keep your job in the early stages of running a business as you never know when it will become profitable. Though as a general rule of thumb it is ALWAYS a lot later than your idealistic shower time dreaming might be suggesting seems feasible.
Definitely don’t try and get everything hunky dory before you get into the public eye. Your brand is important, but usually the market you are aiming for rarely ends up being the market you hit. We completely missed the market we were aiming for initially but fell into an even more lucrative one by mistake because we setup and got out there quickly. Be like the cheetah.
6 Months after starting the company and having reached dangerously high levels of caffeine in my blood from Red Bull abuse, I quit my job and headed out to Bangkok with my business partner to see if we could keep the business afloat abroad.
For those who have never lived abroad I cannot recommend it enough. In terms of expanding your mind and understanding I don’t think there is anything else in the world that is better.
Definitely do get structure into your life. The key to a successful virtual business, in my opinion, is an effective working structure. Things can very quickly fall apart if there is no plan in place on how to spend your time (just remember the school holidays of yester year.) A lot of people struggle without the structure of a job and this is the most important thing you will have to focus on and get right if you want to create a successful virtual business.
Definitely don’t think your new business will grow while you are off living the highlife abroad. EFS continued to run smoothly while we were in Bangkok and we started to get most of the day to day running of the business automated but the lack of quality internet, reduced phone time and time differences caused havoc in trying to build new business relationships and generally focus on expansion.
A few months after briefly returning to England after Bangkok, I headed off to travel India and at the same time attempt to keep my business afloat. At this time my business partner was also off traveling in the states and so the challenge was on.
We found this the hardest 3 months of the business as the lack of communication between ourselves, our staff and our new potential partners was incredibly limiting in our effectiveness as a business. In reality, the company simply existed and continued to turn over but did nothing to increase market share and profitability.
Definitely do focus on creating good systems. Without good systems your business will break apart at the seams, no matter how good the product that you offer is. In my opinion it is the systems that a company are built on that determines it success. Just take MacDonalds for example, we can all make a better burger than the Big Mac but no-one has a better system for delivering that burger to millions of people across the globe. It is the systems that will make you successful.
Definitely don’t presume you can negotiate a large distribution deal while traveling abroad. If potential large clients and customers can’t get through to the main decision makers punctually then they will very quickly lose interest in you, regardless of how good your product is. In my experience it is possible to run a company online though actually expanding and growing it effectively is a whole different game.
Running a virtual business can be disastrous for a completely online company unless you have good systems in place that allow the company to operate without you being around. Fortunately, our company is now in a position where everything we can has been outsourced and our limited staff can move orders through and generally keep everyone happy without much involvement from us which leaves our time free to focus on expansion.
To all the readers of this awesome blog, good luck in your own adventure and I hope this was helpful.
Check out Jonny’s awesome blog – The Life Thing – for more of his travel stories, tips and muses!