Guide to Starting a Remote Business

Starting a remote business offers unparalleled opportunities in today's digital landscape. Explore trends, find your niche, and discover the essential steps and tools needed to succeed in this dynamic realm of entrepreneurship.
October 9, 2023
Guide to Starting a Remote Business

In an era defined by remote possibilities, launching a remote business is not just feasible; it's thriving. With the digitization of the workforce and the dissolution of conventional work boundaries, there has never been a better time to start a remote business.

This guide unveils the trends, strategies, and essential tools that you can use to kick off your own e-business.

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What are the Trends Behind Starting Remote Businesses?

The global business landscape is evolving rapidly across all vertices. If you don’t have your finger on the pulse, you may be left by the wayside or miss timely opportunities as they pop up.

Better High-Speed Internet

The proliferation of high-speed internet connectivity has unleashed the potential for remote businesses to thrive. The share of the global population with internet access grew from 54% in 2019 to 66% (5.3 billion) in just the span of three years. Speeds have also been increasing rapidly.

With seamless video conferencing, cloud collaboration, and instant data transfer, entrepreneurs can bridge geographical gaps and tap into a global talent pool effortlessly.

Freelancing Boom

The gig economy is booming, with a significant rise in the number of freelancers worldwide. According to a recent survey, freelancers now comprise 36% of the U.S. workforce. This trend benefits remote business owners by providing access to a flexible and diverse workforce without the limitations of traditional employment models.

Rise of Flexible Work

Flexibility is no longer a perk but an expectation in the modern workplace. Globally, just over half of employees already work under flexible terms, while 81% of workers say they would be more loyal to employers that offer flexible terms. While the numbers have come down slightly after the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, they will likely stay much higher than pre-pandemic levels.

The rise of flexible work arrangements allows remote business founders to adapt to market changes swiftly. This trend makes businesses more flexible in the long run, with demand-based hiring practices and lower overhead.

Better Tools – Global HR / Employer of Record

Innovation in business tools and the emergence of Global HR and Employer of Record services have revolutionized how remote businesses operate. With advanced project management, communication, and payroll tools, businesses can streamline operations across borders, manage remote teams efficiently, and ensure compliance with international labor laws.

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Why Start a Remote Business?

As it stands today, up to 16% of businesses are fully remote, while many more offer flexible work arrangements. There’s a good reason for this, as it helps business grow and improve their bottom line. The benefits of going remote are particularly potent for startups, SMEs, and companies looking to maintain a lean model.

Save Costs

Remote businesses can substantially reduce operational expenses. For instance, office space overheads account for a significant portion of a company's budget.

By embracing remote work, businesses can potentially save up to $11,000 per employee annually, allowing these funds to be reinvested into growth strategies and innovation.

Access Global Talent

The remote business model breaks down geographical barriers, providing access to a vast pool of global talent. Approximately 41.8% of hiring managers believe that remote work increases access to a broader talent pool. This access empowers startups to build diverse, high-performing teams and leverage specialized skills from anywhere in the world.

Work Flexibly

Flexibility is a cornerstone of remote work, and it offers numerous benefits. Job satisfaction is one of them, with 42% of remote workers rating their overall happiness as 8/10 vs just 21% of office workers.

For entrepreneurs, this translates to a more satisfied and motivated workforce, resulting in improved productivity and creativity. It not only helps in hiring top talent but also retaining it long-term.

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What are Remote Business Ideas?

The remote business landscape is ripe with opportunities. Here are five popular and lucrative remote business ideas that capitalize on current trends in technology, work culture, and market demand to get you inspired.

Although many others have also taken advantage of these opportunities, there is always room to find your own unique niche or USP.

E-commerce Store

With the e-commerce industry forecast to boom to $5.56 trillion by 2027, now is an ideal time to get in on the action. Remote entrepreneurs are increasingly tapping into this growing market by selling niche products with low overhead.

The low overhead costs, wide reach, and 24/7 availability make it an ideal remote business. An example is Oberlo, a platform helping entrepreneurs set up a dropshipping business.

Digital Marketing Agency

Digital marketing is the backbone of modern businesses. Remote agencies can provide a range of services, including SEO, content marketing, and social media management. The remote nature allows access to a global client base. Probably the biggest name in the industry to take inspiration from is Neil Patel.

Online Coaching or Consulting

The demand for online coaching and consulting services is surging. Entrepreneurs with expertise in various fields, from fitness to finance, can reach clients worldwide. The flexibility of remote consultations caters to clients' schedules. An example is Intro.co

Software Development

The tech industry is thriving, and software development remains in high demand. Remote teams can create software solutions, apps, or websites for clients globally. The talent pool is vast, and collaboration tools facilitate seamless work. An example is GitLab.

Content Creation

There’s a reason the phrase “content is king” exists. Remote content creators can offer services such as blogging, video production, or graphic design. The remote setup allows for diverse clients and projects.

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How to Start a Remote Business?

Embarking on your journey to establish a remote business requires careful planning and execution. While we’ll provide a brief summary of what’s generally needed, it’s important to note that the necessities may differ based on your business type, country, and many other factors.

Incorporate Your Business (e.g., Doola)

This provides you with a degree of protection for your assets and gives your business credibility. Tools like Doola and Northwest Registered Agent simplifies the process, offering legal guidance and document filing services tailored to your business structure, whether it's an LLC, corporation, or sole proprietorship.

Business Mailbox and Phone Number

Establishing a professional way of communicating is vital. Services like Stable and Anytime Mailbox provide a virtual mailbox for managing mail, and OpenPhone offers a virtual phone system, ensuring your business appears reputable and accessible.

Business Bank Account

Separating personal and business finances is crucial. Consider setting up a business bank account with a traditional bank or services like Mercury or Wise Business for easy, cheap cross-border payments. Look for ones with fees and rewards designed for freelancers and small businesses, with convenient and feature-rich online/mobile banking services.

Build a Website

Establishing a credible online presence is important. Use website hosts like Dreamhost or Bluehost and website builders like Webflow to get started building a website quickly and affordably, so you can start making a strong impression on your chosen audience.

Find Customers

Acquiring customers is essential. Platforms like Upwork and Fiverr connect hirers with freelancers and businesses. You can also find industry-specific job boards or forums to start building your client list.

Sell Products and Services

Setting up an e-commerce store on platforms like Shopify or WooCommerce enables remote businesses to sell products and services online. These platforms offer customizable, user-friendly solutions for entrepreneurs with low overhead compared to developing a site from scratch. It’s not only useful for products, but selling digital assets, services, or even face-to-face sessions.

Hire Staff to Help

As your business grows, consider hiring remote staff using platforms like Deel or Remote.com. These websites connect you with a global talent pool, allowing you to find skilled professionals who can support your business.

Set Up a Remote Work Stack

To facilitate collaboration, invest in a remote work stack. Tools like Slack for communication, Monday for project management, and Google Workspace for document collaboration streamline remote operations, boosting your efficiency and teamwork.

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How do I Hire Remote Staff for My Business?

Establishing a hiring process for yourself can help you make sure you do it right. It will help ensure that your new hires tick all your boxes and that you get your working relationship started on the right foot

Here’s a sample plan to follow:

  • Identify skills and roles needed, clarifying project duration or full-time positions
  • Craft a clear job description, specifying remote work details
  • Shortlist candidates aligning with requirements
  • Interview top candidates, and assess their communication, skills, and cultural fit
  • Offer a paid test project to evaluate capabilities
  • Verify qualifications with provided references
  • Discuss compensation and work details
  • Provide onboarding resources and maintain open communication
  • Regularly assess remote staff and provide feedback

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What’s the Remote Business Stack?

As the backbone of your business, a fit-for-purpose and robust tech stack is absolutely crucial. Aside from your obvious tools like Zoom and Slack, here are a few essential tools to consider along with their uses:

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Summary

This is not only the advent of remote work, but remote business. The rapid evolution in the tools and technologies available has made it more feasible than ever for people to work together, even when they’re located across the world in different time zones.

Not only that, but the research says that remote teams are happier, flexible, cost-efficient, and as productive (if not more) than in-office teams. Keeping that in mind, making your next venture fully digital is a no-brainer.

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Dexter Zhuang
Dexter Zhuang

Dexter is the founder of Money Abroad, a website and newsletter on building wealth for global professionals. Over the last 10 years, he's been a product leader, product manager, consultant and coach at companies like Dropbox, Xendit, and growth-stage startups across the US, Asia Pacific, and Latin America. His work has been featured in global publications like Business Insider, CBS, US News & World Report, and Tech in Asia. He graduated from Dartmouth College.

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