In a business, your team should be the wind that buoys you up. They can help you soar, or rest when you need to, reducing your load. They can also help stretch you to new levels because having another trusted perspective in the inner circle of your business can be invaluable. Being an entrepreneur can be a long, lonely road. A great team can help fill the gaps, bringing expertise and accelerating growth. However, as a small business it can be hard to know when to invest in a team. How do you avoid expanding too fast? How do you find great talent, and how do you understand YOUR new role as a manager once you start to outsource?
My answer to this is simple: allow your team to grow as you grow.
This is the freelancer approach, and it means taking a more gradual tack to team-building — for example, bringing on two people to work two-to-five hours per week. You want to find people who are willing to work with you AND other clients so they aren’t looking for your business to fully support them. This gives you the freedom to figure out the type of team you need, and how your business will work with a team.
I know, five hours per week can sound limited, but I find it works best to start your new team member(s) with a restricted number of hours during the first few weeks and even months. For one thing, it gives you the opportunity to access that person’s skills. Without making a large investment you can provide a freelancer with a contingency project. If they succeed and produce the results you need, you give them more work. That way you build on successes instead of the promise of a good job. I find that problems with employees can happen when mismatched expectations exist; if you start small, often it is easier to identify issues, problems and people who aren’t a good fit for your business early on.
As you build a team, your role in the organization will change. Yes, having a team of people means you don’t have to wear every hat anymore; however, now you must lead…that’s the job of a CEO, founder or business owner.Now you must lead...that's your job. Click To Tweet
Often, we lose sight of that role because we are so burned out that we just want some type of relief. However, someone ALWAYS has to set and maintain the course so the team can move forward toward a consistent target. Without leadership, there’s anarchy, so be careful NOT to build your team around projects and tasks that you don’t want to be bothered with or have no interest in managing.
Everyone needs to be inspired! If your team feels like they are the dumping ground for projects, ideas and problems that you don’t want to deal with, you might not see the productivity you were hoping for. Share the excitement of your business with your team by giving them interesting projects to work on, and positioning them with a balanced experience. If they have earned more responsibility and autonomy, give it to them! Every team member will have a role to play, but if you are only giving out scraps, you are sending a subliminal message about their role and value to your organization.
Remember, a team should help your business grow, not simply remove splinters in your side. Often the annoyances in your business are not where the growth opportunities lie — they are just problems to solve. I’m not saying you should ignore issues that are stopping your business from moving ahead; instead I would flip the roles. Have your team work on growth and expansion — things that are going well and need to be scaled up are ideal because you know there’s revenue there…you may just need an expert to help you take things to the next level. And here’s another key: hire experts, not generalists.
In larger organizations, a manager may reside over multiple team members. However, I find that most small-to-medium businesses are more productive with a group of amazing people who can do a few things really well, fuelling the business with awesomeness.
Building a team can be extremely rewarding, but don’t rush into it. Take the time to gradually grow your team, finding the right projects and the right people so those you surround yourself with become the wind in your sails, not an anchor — or worse, a hole in your boat.
This article first appeared in the July 2017 issue of Vegan Lifestyle Magazine. You can download full issues of the magazine here: