Building a team for your business is perhaps one of the trickiest parts of being a business owner. Whether you’re assembling a team for the first time or focusing on building a better team, there are a lot of moving pieces involved that can make it feel like a daunting task you’ll never quite master.
For better or worse, entrepreneurial culture is rooted in the “do it yourself” mentality. In fact, the whole “one woman show” vibe is so entrenched in the business community that many business owners continue to do everything themselves for far longer than it makes sense to do so. Many resist building a better team because they think they should be able to do it all themselves.
In fact, I’ve worked with many entrepreneurs who have waited far, far too long to hire help, and it always shows in their businesses — and it very often shows in their lives too!
Finding the support you need to grow your business while also having a life simply must be a priority.
I’ve learned this lesson both as a member of other people’s teams and as a business owner. I started building my team out of sheer necessity about nine months into my business when there was simply no way to do it all on my own anymore.
For the last two years, it’s been a continual process of evaluating what’s working and what’s not to ensure we’re building a better team that helps us more consistently serve clients. It has also helped us add more varied services that support our clients in new and interesting ways.
Building a better team throughout this process has allowed me to build my business without sacrificing all my free time.
Why We Avoid Building a Better Team
In my experience, there are usually two main reasons that business owners procrastinate when it comes to building a better team (or even getting started with a team in the first place!).
First, deciding what help you need can be very overwhelming. There’s so much advice out there about who to hire, when to hire, and what to outsource first that applying it to your business and circumstances can feel impossible.
The key to building a better team is to make sure you’re properly prepared before you get started! For more on this, be sure to check out this post on getting started.
This brings me to the second roadblock I’ve seen hold business owners back from building a better team: thinking that getting help is going to be way more expensive than it has to be. Many times, we think that hiring help is going to cost us hundreds or even thousands of dollars, when in fact, you can start small and grow from there as needed.
In many ways, starting small is also the smart way to do it because it allows you to get to know someone before committing a ton of cash. Plus, it allows you to ease into a management role that you may not be used to.
Consider starting with a VA for just a few hours a week. Find someone who can do simple administrative tasks at a reasonable rate, so you can focus more of your time on revenue-generating activities, like content creation, marketing, and the serving of your clients.
As your business grows, having support is essential. Whether it’s your first video series or onboarding more and more clients, you’ll be glad you got the help.
But How do I Hire?
Once you’ve decided to hire help, the next roadblock I’ve seen is not knowing what qualities to look for in a team member.
There are two consistent qualities that I’ve found tip the scales to the positive when building a better team:
Reliability and Proactiveness
Building a better team depends on so many factors, but your ability to count on your team to deliver consistent results is definitely high up there on the list.
These two qualities are so key to hiring because they are things you simply cannot teach or train. Teaching someone to do a blog post or newsletter the way you want is way easier than teaching her to consistently meet deadlines and reach out when something doesn’t look right.
This is, in fact, the reason I’ve hired several fantastic VAs with ZERO experience — I knew them to be both proactive and reliable. It’s also how I got my break in the online world nearly ten years ago!
One of my very best finds was my sister who had no experience whatsoever in the online world and had never used most of the tools I knew she’d need to master. She did, however, have reliability in spades. Another excellent find was a former coworker who again didn’t have the technical know-how I needed but had the work ethic that I knew would propel her to success as a VA.
So, as tempting as it is to hire the person who has all the skills you need when you’re working to build a better team, it may not be the best call. Of course, this logic doesn’t necessarily apply to positions where skills are the determining factor. Don’t go thinking I’d recommend hiring a web developer who doesn’t know how to code or a book editor who has terrible grammar.
But when it comes to adding a support person to your team who is responsible for handling things, like customer service and administrative support, your ability to count on them to follow through is more essential than their specific skills. Skills can be taught, but knowing that she’ll check in with you if she’s missing the content for the blog post (read: proactiveness) or that you don’t have to constantly obsess over whether that invoice went out on time (read: reliability) is priceless.
This is exactly the type of support that will allow you to grow your business and have a life.
How to Start Building a Better Team
There are a variety of ways to find your first, or next, team member. Let’s dig into a few of the most common ones!
Ask for referrals: This is perhaps the most consistent and simple way to build a better team. Ask other business owners who they use for various tasks and about anyone they’ve worked with before that may be a good fit for your needs.
Ask people you know: It’s easy to overlook people outside your business network, but you could have a huge untapped resource right at your fingertips without even realizing it. So, ask your friends, family, and acquaintances if they know anyone who could be a good fit for the role you need. Be specific in what you’re looking for as far as personality and skills go, but remember that personality is often far more important than skills.
Post the job publicly: Harness the power of the Internet when you’re looking to build a better team, and post the job on social media. Be sure you have a system in place for reviewing and filtering applications because you’ll likely get a lot of them! With the proper preparation, though, posting the job can yield great results.
Consider using a service: Depending on what you’re hiring for, using a service-based team member might make sense. For instance, hiring a VA from a service can simplify the process quite substantially. It can make the onboarding, task management, and overall management of your new team member far less onerous on you than a normal hire.
Look internally if you already have a team: This may not apply to everyone, but if you already have at least one team member, be sure to look internally before hiring someone new. When you hire for a specific role, you may not always know all the things your team member is capable of.
So, ask existing team members if they have the skills or the desire to support the new tasks. Even if they don’t have the direct skills already — if they have complementary skills and the right personality that you already know is a good fit for your business — it may be worth investing the time in training them.
While the process of building a better team may seem daunting when you first get started, (and even while you’re in the middle of it), it is definitely worth the effort. When you have the support you need, you’ll find your business and your life run a lot smoother!