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Don't Sit On Your Ideas…

Expert’s Thought on Remote Work- Interview with Michelle Dale

Randy RayessRandy Rayess

For this week’s Expert Thoughts segment we interviewed Michelle Dale, CEO of Virtual Miss Friday. During the interview Michelle talked about various aspects of project management, shared some thoughts about remote work culture and gave us insights into habits that make her a very productive entrepreneur.

You can read the detailed interview with Michelle below:

Michelle Dale

Michelle Dale – CEO – Virtual Miss Friday

Project management is an absolutely essential part of seeing any project, idea or venture through to the finish efficiently – addressing all details, particularly if it involves coordinating people and sub-tasks.

We’ve never had so much freedom, and I believe that freedom is the new currency, we’re no longer wanting to simply get rich financially, we’re exploring ways to become richer in our lives as a whole, our relationships, and our overall happiness.
Many people are turning to remote working because it allows us to have an abundance of freedom from choosing our own businesses, hours of work, locations of where we work, and even our income.
A shift in mindset is starting to happen, we’re competing less for the highest salary, and more for the highest fulfillment.

I think the best way to move forward is to not focus on the risk or expect things to go wrong, but to ensure you have an experienced project manager who is personally invested into the outcome of the project, and put systems and procedures in place to quality control at every level of the project until completion. Understand that if there’s a problem that presents itself, turn that into a challenge and get busy on working towards a solution.

By far I would say the biggest challenges are focussed around sales and marketing. Sometimes it’s hard to make that shift between what we know works traditionally offline, to what happens online. For example, business owners love to see ROI – but it’s often less accurate to measure when using something like social media as a tool. Building an audience in social media doesn’t always allow you to see the sale coming directly from those efforts, especially when social media is all about building relationships and authority – sales come from that in multiple ways.

We do our best to share as much data as we can with the client from we have available for them, in terms of increase in audience, increase in traffic to their site, increase in engagement, click through rates and so on. It’s also very important to educate the client on what we’re doing and what we can measure, and that helps to manage their expectations better.

When I’m working on a project I create what I call an ‘evolving idea map’ which is a wall with all my project mapped out and the ideas I have in front of me, and instead of rigidly sticking to a project plan with a step 1, step 2 kind of process – if I find there’s a stage of the project I’m having difficulty with, I’ll move onto another area of the map to keep the project moving continuously while the solution to the sticking point is put to one side, as generally the solution will come as the project moves forward, but if you prevent yourself from moving past that point because you don’t have the answer right away, it can stall everything. I also listen to my body, and make sure I take a decent break in the afternoon to recharge my batteries – for me, productivity doesn’t come from feeling tired or using something like coffee as a substitute for staying focussed and alert.

I take some personal time in the morning to start my day, I do some moderate exercise and during that time I think about the things I want to accomplish that day and my big picture goals.
I also use meditation in part of my daily routine, that’s something again that keeps me focussed and in a calm state of mind, especially during those busy times where deadlines are looming.
I stay super-organised and keep a general schedule but I also have a diary with a daily summary of the tasks I ‘must’ accomplish that day, as it helps me stay focussed on what’s essential and time sensitive to keep the business moving.
It’s all about investing in what’s right for the business, the right tools, the right team and the right tasks.
The right tools are essential, for example, online project management spaces, VOIP, IM, SAAS, systems and tools are all required to keep the online business moving, just as an offline business might have a fax machine and a telephone, remote businesses have their own requirements, except they’re inside a computer and online. Don’t think that you’ll be able to operate an online business effectively with just an email account.
The right team is all about finding the right kind of remote workers with the right kind of self-motivation and self-discipline to work online, who have the right skill sets to match the tasks. Don’t look for the cheapest solution, look for the most cost-effective solution based on the team’s skills, experience and work ethics.
Which leads me onto the right tasks, if you delegate a task remotely to the wrong individual it could impact the time to completion, the cost of completion and the quality of the end result, so make sure you have a good understanding of what you want done, and how you want it done, to match the best person to the task, then ensure you take full responsibility to ensure they’ve understood – otherwise you may get a very different result than what you’re looking for.

Thank you Michelle for sharing such insightful information with our readers. I’m sure they’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading about your experiences and will definitely leverage the tips and tricks you’ve shared.

Would you like to share your thoughts on agile method with the community? Write to us at [email protected] and we’ll schedule an interview for you.

Learn more about outsourcing and managing remote teams. Download VenturePact’s ebook now!

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CoFounder at VenturePact Passionate about software, marketplace startups & remote work. Previously at SilverLake Partners, Ampush and Wharton.