Celebrating 10 years of virtual business and leadership

It feels good to see the rest of the world finally waking up to the realisation that we can still achieve great things with a virtual business model. This is something I’ve always believed was possible. I founded AG Comms, a virtual communications agency, 10 years ago this week after being faced with relocation or redundancy from my role in corporate communications. My eldest daughter was 3 weeks old at the time and my husband had just been diagnosed with thyroid cancer.  I needed to make a change. My aim? To still work with C-Suite leaders on amazing global projects, just on a more flexible basis.

So much has changed in that time, but our business ethics and values at AG Comms remain the same – to deliver outstanding results for our clients around the world and support my team to continually develop whilst working both remotely and flexibly.

Leading a virtual business definitely requires a different approach. You need to understand and develop specific skills that create trust and can motivate and engage your team from afar. Having an open mind and the flexibility to adapt and change has been essential too.  It’s helped me to become a better virtual leader and has improved the AG Comms experience for our clients around the world too.

The learnings over the last 10 years have been invaluable. If you find yourself operating in or leading a virtual business here are my top 10 tips:

  1. KINDNESS matters. Be kind to your team and help them realise their dreams, even if it means you lose them for a period, they will always come back when the time is right. Be kind to your supplier partners too – recognise their hard work and always see them as an extension of your team.
  2. TRUST your team 100%. I haven’t physically seen some members for years, but we have built our virtual mutual trust and friendship over that time. I have their back and they have mine. When an issue arises, there is a support structure in place with people that I can trust with anything.
  3. LOYALTY means everything. I am still working closely with my first ever AG Comms client and hope to do so for many years to come. We have evolved our relationship over the years and dramatically reduced or ramped up our delivery to support their business priorities. Being trusted as an extension of an in-house team is a real honour.
  4. COMMUNICATE honestly and openly. Encourage two-way communication with your team – they will respect you so much more if you listen to them. I don’t keep secrets and I am always willing to share more information to help my team be their best.
  5. BE HONEST Be clear about what you are good at and what you are not and don’t try to be everything to everyone.
  6. FLEXIBILTY IS KEY Offer a supportive and flexible working model to support the busy lives of your team and they will always offer you the same flexibility in return. We don’t make a habit of it – but being able to deliver for clients over evenings and weekends to meet global time zones is something we can always offer our clients. This would be impossible without the mutual flexibility we have across our business.
  7. CELEBRATE every success, milestone or life moment with you team. This is such an important part of keeping a dispersed global team motivated and connected. As a leader I make sure I get to know everyone in the team beyond the working relationship. I understand what interests them outside of working hours, their kids, dogs, cats – you name it!
  8. FUN Make it easy to have fun! We have some hilarious chats on our team Whatsapp group or Teams. We share little snippets of life away from work and it really does help keep our team connected and laughing.
  9. KEEP LEARNING and push yourself out of your comfort zone. I’ve just completed a course at the LSE on Purpose and Profit to see how I can support social business development. This is now my focus for the next decade!
  10. REMEMBER TO REST Down time is so important. If you don’t take it, your body will demand it eventually. Keep rested to avoid letting yourself or your team down.

I’m always interested in talking to people who want to become better virtual leaders. Drop me a DM or email me if you would like to learn more about how we could work together – lynne@agcommunications.co.uk

Cheers to our next 10 years in virtual!