Outsourcing sounds scary and albeit, a bit “trendy”.
You keep hearing that it’s not about hustle, it’s about rest. That you need to stop working so dang hard and start focusing on what matters most.
And yet even though having a team underneath you and a one month business sabbatical sounds amazing, how do you get there?
When I first jumped into entrepreneurship, I DIY-ed a lot of things. If I didn’t know how to do it, I googled it. If I wasn’t sure the “right” way, I googled it. And if I just needed reassure and a how-to tutorial, I googled it. You see the theme here! 😉
I got my feet wet in outsourcing with a few softwares. I trusted them more than hiring an actual human; and they helped me create systems in my muddled brain and get my side-hustle hat on straight.
6 months into business, I outsourced my web + brand design … no amount of googling was gonna give me the website of my dreams and I knew that.
But beyond that, I pinched my pennies and held onto every facet of my business so tightly. Too tightly.
It wasn’t until the walls began to cave in & burnt out was right around the corner that I realized my business would only suffocate if I didn’t LET GO and bring on some help. So, I began to slowly but surely trust other people with my business.
I hired a bookkeeper.
Then a CPA.
I booked a graphic designer for a few projects.
And finally I hired a virtual assistant.
She started working for me for 5 hours per week and that quickly doubled, then tripled and ultimately quadrupled! She gives 20 hours per week to my business and you know what? She’s just as fired up about my dreams as I am!
Building a dynamic virtual team for your creative small business is possible with the right steps & mindset. If you’re in the same boat I was – just a few late nights away from burn out – here’s what you can do:
1. Read Traction
This book is a recent read of mine and it’s one I wish I read 2 years ago when my team building journey began. Gino does an incredible job of breaking down the key components of your business – giving you both philosophy AND practicality. If you feel like the day to day of your business is a bit chaotic, this book will provide so much insight on what you can do to build a solid foundation, and create a team atmosphere around your business mission & vision.
2. Know exactly what you’re doing in your business
I encourage you to sit down with a trusty pen & paper & write down EVERYTHING you’re doing for your business.
Be as specific as you possibly can. Don’t just say “Write Blog Posts” or “Email brides”. Think about the exact workflow of each of those tasks. For example:
- Determine Blog Title
- Write Blog Content
- Create Blog Graphics
- Format Blog in WordPress
- Schedule Blog
- Share Blog Post on Facebook
- Share Blog Post on Instagram
- Share Blog Post on Pinterest
Some of those tasks take minutes, others hours. You need to know exactly where your time is going in your business in order to see where you time SHOULD be going.
After you create a draft of every to-do, highlight what you HAVE to do (example: if you are a wedding planner you have to execute wedding day!) and highlight what you WANT to do (these should be the tasks that are your strengths in the business – see #4!). When I did this exercise, I realized that I want to create the content for my business but despise formatting the content! It also takes me too long to DIY the graphics. SO my virtual assistant took over formatting my content in wordpress, creating my graphics & sharing on social media; yet I remain the voice & curator of the content.
3. Create solid workflows & systems
Before you can expand your team, you have to understand every single step in your workflow. Documenting your workflow will allow you to more efficiently bring on a new team member and not feel like the training process is overwhelming!!
I use a mix of Trello and Google Drive for my business workflows, and have solid systems in place with those two platforms as well as Aisle Planner (Code-CREATIVE@HEART for 25% off first 3 months) for my wedding clients.
(Ashlyn is one of our conference educators & she has a great blog post about workflows you should check out here!)
4. Put the right people in the right seats (you included!)
This is a line from Traction that I keep repeating to myself!!
How often have we bootstrapped our business? I bet you’re like me and at this point, you’ve done just about EVERY task in your business!! We play CEO, CFO, Human Resource Manager, Marketing Director, Content Creator and Housekeeper… and that’s just before lunch! 😉
Gino preaches that it’s not about filling the seats – it’s about the RIGHT people in the seats.
What are your strengths? What are the things you’re really, really good at in your business? Are you doing them enough? Do you have TIME do them? (Or do MORE of them?)
Find people who are smarter than you, work harder than you and have strengths you do not have – and bring THOSE people into your business!!!
The first human I outsourced long-term to was my bookkeeper (C@H Alum Stephanie of Steadfast Bookkeeping) because I KNEW that was an area of my business I couldn’t do well. It was not my strength, and therefore I hired someone who DOES have that strength!
5. Create a comfortable, open team dynamic
When you start to build your team, your business immediately becomes about so much more than you. You’re automatically stepping into a managerial role and it’s important that every member of your team feels comfortable. Here are few tips:
- Have open, set lines of communication. Prefer to use Trello? Slack? Email? Whatever it might be, make sure every team member knows the best way to get in touch and when to expect a response (office hours, etc.).
- Have schedule team meetings. This was something I did not do in the beginning and wish I had! Now, Emily and I have bi-weekly meetings (weekly during busy seasons) to go over weekly to-dos, monthly goals and miscellaneous items that come up.
- Ask for feedback. Your team should be your trusted source for constructive feedback. I ask Emily about important decisions I’m making in my business because she knows my business so deeply. Sure, asking can be scary (what if they don’t agree or their feedback seems too harsh?) but it can challenge your business in the best of ways & push you towards growth.
If you’re currently building your virtual team and have questions, comment below! And if you already have a virtual team and have a few other tips or tricks up your sleeve, I’d love to hear them!
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