Running a Business with “Remote Resources”

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There are many benefits to employing human resources from around-the-world. It is less costly in terms of overhead, however it can be a struggle to get “outside employees” to become committed to your mission and purpose, to acknowledge and agree to your “proprietary protections” and to build cohesion. Many startups and small businesses are not in a position to hire direct report employees, so understanding how to deal with independent contractors is imperative.

  • What does this mean for Entrepreneurs?

Create “legal protocols” that hold employees and contractors accountable…

Ultimately, the goal is to establish a set of “legal protocols” and boundaries that allow employees and contractors to understand their role in contributing to the company and their obligations to support and protect the organization.

For instance, Ken Cauley, founder of a Michigan-based company that creates video games, developed an “employee accountability” system. The system helped his business overcome obstacles such as deadlines being missed, client miss-representations, concerns around confidentiality and lack of creativity, which disabled grand ideas from taking flight. The company was based in Detroit, with 10 employees and 30 freelancers in the U.S., Australia, Canada, Honduras and Japan.

At first, he threw money at the problems, thinking this would motivate people to commit the necessary attention and time. However, four years after starting his business, Ken decided his staff needed a set of black-and-white rules. He and his employees developed the “Kombo Bible,” a 40-page document that detailed every aspect of the company, including what to do when problems arose and the repercussions for making a mistake.

The document addressed issues around communicating with clients, working with others, handling and securing of intellectual property and a set of legal consequences for violations. The staff became accountable and agreed to the rules, in fact, welcomed the rules. Not only could he measure increases in productivity, but he was able to protect his trade secrets, design applications and other goodwill while motivating his employees to become vested -and empowered.

There’s no guarantee that establishing sound “protocols” will allow you to protect against all foreseeable risks, however it will provide a foundation for dealing with “life’s problems”, securing your proprietary interests and enabling employees and contractors to become better agents. As companies become more global and competitive, the need to hire outside of your general location will continue and in some cases companies are going ‘virtual’ without set offices and ‘headquarters.’

No matter how you design your business model be sure you set ground rules and protocols that support the mission and objectives of your organization. Keep them simple and straightforward and make sure they afford you the legal protections you need, embed accountability to the staff as well as empowerment.

 

 

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