Startup Diaries: Being A Remote Founder

Working remotely allows Misty to be open to opportunities for travel.Misty Gibbs shares with The NextWomen her tips for networking and working efficiently when working remotely or from home, and explains what she loves about being a remote founder. 

Life for a startup can be a little lonely. Even more so if you don’t live in a startup city … or even in a city. How do you create a Silicon Valley environment when you live among actual valleys?

I wanted to create a company that could be run from anywhere. Partly because I already live in the country, and partly because I wanted to be open to travelling and moving without it impacting my business. I’ve set up on the west coast of New Zealand, and I couldn’t be any further away from a concentrated network of startups than I am right now.

When I look out of my window, instead of seeing commuters, streetlights and high rises, I see endless green paddocks, animals, hills, trees, the sea and a mountain in the background. I love it here!

The isolation doesn’t bother me too much, though I do miss out on a lot of networking and meet and greet opportunities. The nearest city is an hour away, and it’s tiny by city standards. The main cities in New Zealand are both five hours away, so popping up for a startup Meetup isn’t an option a lot of the time!

There are some amazing bonuses to working remotely. I have no commute, other than walking down the hallway from my bedroom to my ‘office’. My office is usually set up in front of the fire in winter and in the garden in summer. It even has sea views – imagine paying for that in San Francisco! I like being able to have quality breaks.

After a few hours of solid working, I can step outside into the garden or take my dog to the beach. I’m able to work any hour I want.

Here’s how to thrive while working remotely, whether you’re working from home or have just set up in a smaller city:

  • Set up an online workspace. You’ll do most of your business via Skype and email. If you have others working on your project, set up an online collaborative workspace like Trello, or even Google Docs. Something that everyone on your team has access to, and can keep track of your projects.
  • Set up an online network of other startups and entrepreneurs. This is great to keep you connected with other people … online relationships can be just as good as person to person ones. You are able to reach a much wider network. Join Facebook groups, connect with other entrepreneurs via blogs, or start your own blog.
  • Use the resources you do have around you. If you’re living in a small town, or even a small country, you have a great advantage in the fact that you’re able to access resources that you would otherwise struggle to if you lived in a huge, competitive city. Chances are it will be relatively easy to contact journalists, media outlets and key people, if you are living in a small town or country. Although the city I live near to is small by city standards, I’ve found the size works for anyone wanting to do something positive or different. The support network for businesses is fantastic. It’s easy to hunt out advice or assistance if you need it, and people are willing to help a startup to get off the ground. You should be able to secure radio interviews, magazine articles and even TV interviews, just by reaching out to people.
  • Look after yourself. If you’re working remotely from home, use the fact that you are in your own environment to stay healthy! Eat well, exercise, get some fresh air and take time out. I recently read an article from an investor writing about founders’ willingness to work on their startups. The investor mentioned he saw two founders out bike riding one afternoon, and went on to suggest they weren’t as committed as they should be, and that surely they had things to do, rather than being out bike riding. If that’s the full story, I completely disagree! I’ve come up with great solutions and brilliant ideas while I’ve been out in the garden. Taking a break and getting a new perspective on things can be a great tool, rather than endlessly chaining yourself to your laptop.
  • Be sociable. Get out of the house and be sociable when you can. I’m only in town once a week, but try to meet up with three or four people during that day. I travel to Auckland once every few weeks for a night, and try to organise the trip around an event or meeting that I can attend.

Broadband brings the world to you. You can still connect, build and create remotely. You can still seek out advice from people all around the world, access the same resources and set up the same networks.

You’ll be able to work from anywhere and move when you need to … enjoy the flexibility!

Based in New Zealand, Misty fosters her entrepreneurial spirit with a recent app startup, ‘Hype This Track’, involvement in a family business, and a soon to be launched website based around interesting stories of notable locals. She also runs a website with tips, resources and advice for startups and those wanting to create a mobile app. 

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