How to Build a Thriving Remote Practice

For a lot of us, remote work will be a reality that is going to become a regular part of our lives.

Over the course of 2020, a lot of advisors have reached out to us and shared the sentiment that customers are actually completely fine being served remotely and this may be something they may continue to do moving forward.

We wanted to put together an expert session with someone who can speak to the success of remote work and how to make the most out of it.

Meet Stefan Palios.

Stefan is a bestselling author and entrepreneur passionate about the future of work. He started his current business in 2016 – helping startups and VCs with content as a freelancer.

Since then he has interviewed over 250 entrepreneurs and produced over 1,000 pieces of content for B2B startups, venture capitalists, and tech media outlets on topics such as remote work, the future of work, and innovation.

He's the author of the bestselling book The 50 Laws of Freelancing and publishes Remotely Inclined, a regular newsletter about running a business remotely.

We sat down with Stefan to chat about remote work and how to do it successfully, here is a transcript of our chat!

CapIntel: Stefan, we know that you have been running a remote business well before 2020. Let’s talk about some of the lessons you have learnt so far.

Stefan: 2 lessons that really stood out for me are:

1. Have a routine

2. Figure out the kind of learner you are

When I first went full time remote, I initially thought, oh, this is going to be amazing – no more office and no more office politics.

But what actually happened was that my mornings were miserable. I didn't get anything done. I laze around the house and just did not do anything, frankly.

And I realized that as much as I didn’t like being in an office, I benefited from the energy of the office.

You walk in, you sit down, you get to work. I didn't have that anymore.

So what I ended up doing was designing my morning.

I would sit down at my computer with my coffee and write down an email to myself with 4 categories

1. Business priorities
2. Growth priorities
3. Client work priorities
4. Personal priorities

And that's what I still do every single day or every business day anyway.

And under each one of those categories, I write down the things that I have to get done that day – whether it's to meet a client deadline or whether it's to inch forward on my growth or whether it's just those annoying admin things that you just have to do. And if you don't do them, your business will fall apart eventually.

This system works for me because it gave me this massive sense of progress and structure.

Secondly, I realized that I am a very visual person.

As a remote worker, you need to keep your goals in mind, since you don't have your coworkers or your boss sitting right beside you, telling you what to do.

So, I wrote out everything on sticky notes and pasted them to the wall in front of my desk. So every time I glance up, I'm looking at my long term goals.

CapIntel: What are some of the tools that you use for remote work?

Stefan: I love AirTable.

It's great for task management. It has got the Trello system, but then it also has functionality like Google Sheets. It's a full spreadsheet that you can then turn into shareable views and things like that.

I have a micro CRM and just a lightweight sales tracker.

CapIntel: You also wrote a book, The 50 Laws of Freelancing.

Advisors are very much entrepreneurs in their own right. They run their own book of business. They have inventory they have to deal with.

What are some tips that advisors could use from your book that you think be relevant?

Stefan: Yeah, and it's interesting, the world of the financial advisor and everything that goes into it was actually my first exposure to this concept of what I call freelancing.

My uncle is a mortgage broker. And I learned all about how he was an employee, but not. And then he talked to me about how the financial advisers were employees but not and how everyone had their own PNL, their own book of business.

And that's how I learned about freelancing. So when I wrote the book, I thought a lot about how this book can help all entrepreneurs, not necessarily just freelancers like myself.

  1. Knowing your one liner
  2. Knowing that you are in charge of your own professional development and what that actually means
  3. Thanking everyone and expressing gratitude

CapIntel: Do you have other tips for building a successful remote business, some of the ways to maybe adapt that you think would be helpful to use going forward?

Stefan: Remote work is not an identity. And to many media outlets, I'll say not to make this an anti media conversation, but a lot of the positioning in the media is, oh, they're doing remote work now. They're a remote company now.

And that's correct in the sense that the company exists and the staff is remote, but it can feel very much like it's part of your identity and a term that was being flown around a little bit ago is this idea of remote washing where all of a sudden, probably about three months ago, every product in the world somehow worked for remote work.

So if you are someone that is like, look, I can't brainstorm remotely, OK?

You can just have your office when it is safe to do so, maybe have a smaller office, if you really like the in-person team dynamic. But also invest in having online processes, so you can serve more clients.

Connect with Stefan on twitter@stefanpalios