The Limits of Managing a Business From a Distance

A first glance, many potential entrepreneurs find the concept of management and business ownership enticing because they’re used to being ‘at the coalface’ so to speak. The general myth that those on the production floor or the sales team work harder than those in management is clearly a myth, but it’s a very powerful one. The rumours that management- instead of managing- spend most of their time on the golf course is equally untrue and, if this is what you’re expecting when you start a new business, then you could be in for a nasty shock. Here are the limits of managing a business from a distance.

Managing from a distance
photo credit: Daniele Zanni

Phones Don’t Indicate Body Language

Although as a manager you won’t spend all of your time on the shop floor, there’s no logical reason why you wouldn’t maintain a strong presence by either having an on-site office or regular meetings with staff.

Yes, you can manage businesses over the phone or via Skype video calls, but these only provide you with a brief snapshot of the business and, as a result, you’re not getting an accurate reflection of business activity. Of course, these can be used as a communication stopgap when you’re not on-site, but they should be nothing more than that.

The Wrath of Additional Management Fees

Some industries, such as the landlord industry, are notorious from having owners who manage from afar. In fact, the suggestion that most tenants never see their landlord when they’re renting is in fact true and, because of this, the process seems simple.

With this, it looks like you can simply buy a property, kit it out with inexpensive furnishings from somewhere like Peelmount (where you can even get everything in one place), and then step back and reap the rewards.

This, however, isn’t the case and, if you choose this option, you’ll have to run everything through a lettings agent, something that will vastly cut into your profits. Plus, with tenants having a ready point of contact, they’re more likely to request repairs which will further cut into any profit.

A Lack of Focus

Finally, if you’re not in the office or on the sales floor, it’s very easy to lose focus on the task at hand. By being absent, you’ll miss the day to day problems that occur in your absence. Of course, these can be dealt with by others, but the amount adds up and, eventually, a big problem will arise, and it’ll be far more damaging because you never saw it coming.