Most of us went into business for ourselves in part because we wanted to be our own boss.
We wanted to call all the shots, choose how much or how little we worked and to have control over our income.
This sounds GREAT in theory, but if you aren’t careful you can easily create a monster of a J.O.B. for yourself – even worse than when you were actually employed because YOU are wearing all the hats.
The easiest solution to this common problem is to build a team and start delegating. You can do so by working with an intern, hiring a Virtual Assistant, or hiring an employee or an independent contractor with specialized expertise. No matter which option you choose, one thing is for sure…
You want to get your money’s worth out of the investment and you want a high quality product or service at the end of the engagement.
Whether or not you achieve the outcome you seek actually has far more to do with you than it does with the person you hired. Here’s how to avoid common pitfalls that often occur when you work with a team and how to ensure they pay for themselves:
- Hire for exactly what you need to save time or increase your income. If you’re losing precious billable hours responding to customer service emails, hire a team member to do exactly that. Then make sure you use that “extra” time to work with more clients or attract new clients. If you need help getting your email newsletter done each week, make sure you include a call to action and again, use that newly found time for a specific revenue generating activity.If you want to get your money’s worth have your team members start out focusing on specific activities that will generate leads and income and make sure you’re using your time to do the same.
- Define Project Specs Clearly. Never commit the cardinal sins of:
- Expecting your contractor or employee to read your mind
- Hoping they will tell you what to do
If you don’t know what you want done, you may not be ready to outsource.
Be sure to let your contractor or employee know how to contact you if she has questions – in fact, encourage her to ask, if anything is unclear. Make sure you provide any research data you wish her to use, a specific deadline, the campaign or project name and billing or sales codes she needs to use. It’s not her job to figure out the details. It’s your job to give clear instructions about what you need and what you expect the outcome of the project to be. Also, be clear about how you are going to monetize the project so you leverage the deliverables as soon as they are ready.
- Use the “Right” Communication Channels. There are multiple ways to communicate virtually, so make sure you choose the methods that are the most natural and comfortable for you and your team. You’ll be wasting money if your communication is haphazard and disorganized. When hiring contractors or employees, check to see how comfortable and proficient they are with the following communication systems:
- Instant Messaging
- Online project management systems (e.g. Basecamp)
Ask their preferences – and make sure your operations manual specifies expected means (and time frames) of communications. Don’t assume they know how and when to communicate with you. Set clear expectations up front to avoid misunderstandings.
- Empower, Don’t Dictate. Team members who do their best work are those who are allowed to exercise their competence in the most comfortable manner. Team members who do the poorest work are those who are micro-managed.Micro managing belittles, causes distrusts, and ultimately builds resentment. It also deflates morale and takes creativity out of your projects – and team members.This doesn’t mean everyone can do their own thing in their own time frame, completely ignoring your guidelines. Ask your team members for their input and leverage their expertise! Take advantage of successes they have had with other clients and learn from what didn’t work. Then set clear parameters.
Once you are sure everyone is on the same page and aware of deadline and check-in protocols, that’s when you should leave them to it.
The only person you should ever micro-manage is you.
- Be An Example. If you want your team to be well organized, excited, enthusiastic, competent, positive, professional and creative, do your best to live and exhibit those qualities in your every day life, as well as in your business. A team with shared goals and values functions most efficiently.
If you truly want to call your own shots, you MUST build a strong team that can help you to accomplish your goals. You can’t do it alone. More hands make the load lighter.
The better your support teams (and systems), the more you are likely to enjoy the success of your business. Be mindful that you don’t have to break the bank when you consider hiring supporting team members. If you are well organized and focused, building a team to help you in your business will be well worth the investment. In fact, it will pay for itself!