Greetings from beautiful Panama. As many of you know we’ve taken Intern Profits (and our real estate investing business) fully virtual for the next few months.
As we shared with you in our announcement of our impending move and adventure we will be giving you tips and techniques on how to run your business completely virtual.
Now that we are in a third world country running both of our businesses remotely we figure it was time to share our top “must haves” for operating remotely.
1. High Speed Internet
This might sound obvious, but running your business internationally absolutely requires high speed internet. Unfortunately we found this out the hard way in Greece during a 2008 trip: the internet was painfully slow (think 1990s dial up) which made for unproductive business time, and grumpy business owners…not a way to spend your time working or having fun.
When you’re heading to an international destination, you can’t always be assured of high speed internet quality, but as the world develops, even here in Panama, we’ve found the internet to be very fast – in fact, the internet we have on a remote island off the coast of Panama near Red Frog Beach is faster than our internet in our old office in San Diego!
2. Phone access to anywhere in the world
We’ve been using Vonage for nearly 6 years now, because it gives us unlimited long distance calling to anywhere in the USA & Canada, plus over 100 other countries. But the best part about Vonage is that we can bring an adapter and a phone with us, and use our phone just as if I were in the USA.
This means that people in the USA (or Canada or the UK or anywhere else in the world) can reach us just by dialing our old phone number that we had in California! We don’t pay long distance to call anyone either! The quality is awesome, and it makes it really easy for family, friends and business people to keep in touch with us while we’re abroad (they never have to dial internationally!)
The catch is you need #1 – high speed internet.
There are other resources out there as well including Magic Jack which we used while we were abroad in Greece back in 2008. This is a device that gives anyone with high speed internet free phone service and a free phone number with unlimited local and long distance calling. They have a free trial period and then there is an annual fee.
Skype is really the main management tool we use on a regular basis with our team of contractors, virtual assistants, virtual interns, bookkeepers and accountants. We can chat (think: IM), speak by voice, or even do video calls. We listed Vonage ahead of Skype because Skype only works if the other party has the app installed.
4. Electronic Signature technology/software
In our other business, real estate investing, signing documents is nearly a daily task so we have to be able to sign documents at any time, anywhere. It’s essential to have software/technology that allows you to sign documents remotely. In other words, you don’t need to lug a printer, scanner or fax machine abroad, or track one down while you’re traveling.
Justin uses Docusign often to make and close real estate deals. It is a great technology that allows you to sign documents with the click of a mouse! They also have some great apps, including one for Microsoft Outlook and another for the iPhone and Android mobile devices. And it’s free.
I recently purchased a Mac and using it’s Preview feature I can take “photos” of our signatures or initials and “sign” documents right from my computer. Simple and easy. If you have a Mac and you don’t have the “annotate” feature with signatures – I recommend updating your version. Great app!
5. A Great Virtual Team
While this is for certain the most important “tool”, it’s not something that you can just buy or download. You actually have to spend time cultivating a great team.
Fortunately for us we’ve had a small team that we work with on a daily basis that have been with us for many years. They all work remotely (from VA to New Orleans to Vancouver). Some have fixed hours each week, others work on an as needed basis. You can meet our core service team here.
And of course we have all our great virtual interns who we are able to continue working with and mentoring because they have always been virtual. If you haven’t checked out our latest interns go here.
We also have two separate bookkeepers in Ohio who handle each of our different businesses as well as an accountant in Vancouver.
One of our bookkeepers is even getting all of our “snail mail” and opening, handling sending us bills, depositing checks, etc. for us. There are tons of services out there that will also do this for you for a small monthly fee and/or per action fee.
Our team is all over the USA & Canada so our being in Panama really doesn’t change much for us in business operations as long as we have the aforementioned technology solutions.
If you still haven’t hired an intern or want to learn more about what an intern can do for you check out one of our upcoming webinars.
If you haven’t considered hiring a virtual assistant and here’s a webinar we recently hosted revealing how any business owner an get a virtual assistant and get their first 40 hours of work done FOR FREE!
In closing, we are enjoying our team here in Panama as a family and putting the “virtual office” to a real test.
If you have questions about how you can set-up your office and work remotely leave them below. We’d love to hear what you have to say.
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