5 Team Building Tips for Solopreneur Designers [Part II]

Now that you’ve accepted the need to hire a team of people who can support you as you grow your (no longer) DIY design business, as outlined in Part I of this two-part series, it’s time to figure out what you want them to do, how to find them, and how to structure the business relationship.

If you already happen to know a group of trustworthy professionals who are able and willing to work with you, great. Sign ‘em up! Unfortunately, this is rarely the case, and hiring family and/or friends can lead to awkward situations that may hurt your relationships with them. Instead, you will need to implement a proven strategy for building your team.

Just as there are areas of running your business that you love and hate, every business owner or entrepreneur has strengths and weaknesses. For your team building strategy to be successful, you will need to outline those things; what you love to do and are good at doing, as well as what you hate and do not do well (those last two things tend to be intimately connected).

This type of self-analysis is difficult for many, if not most of us but, it will be critical to your success when building your team. Here’s a way to make it simpler for you…

For the next week or so, keep a small notebook nearby and create a list of everything you do in a day. Make sure you keep it with you at all times so you write down EVERYTHING. No matter how trivial it is, write it down! When you have your list complete and in front of you, circle all the things that directly generate income.

Place an * next to all the things you HATE to do! Look at the items with an * that do not directly generate income. Now, prioritize those items like so:

  1. Of the * items, what would be the ONE task you’d love to give to someone else.
  2. Once someone else has that task, what next is the ONE task you’d love to give you someone else.
  3. Once those two tasks are taken over by someone else, what is the ONE next task you’ve love to give to someone else?
  4. If this is new to you, the first 1-3 tasks may be plenty to get used to. If you have an existing business, continue to prioritize until the only tasks you are doing are those you love to do and that directly generate income for you.

You may very well be surprised by just how much STUFF sucks time away from the work you love to do, and the stuff that generates income. Remember the 80/20 rule of business – 80% of your income will be created by 20% of the time you spend doing so. The rest, like answering emails, tracking sales and revenue, creating new products or services, etc., is necessary self-support, but has very little to do with actually increasing cash flow to your business!

Once you’ve determined the tasks you’d like to be rid of, it’s time to find the person (or people) who can best support you moving forward. Essentially, you will need to create a profile of the types of support personnel you would most like to have on your emerging team.

Write down the answers to these questions:

  1. Do you want an employee or independent contractor?
  2. Do you want a detailed-oriented person or someone who is laid-back?
  3. Are you looking for a specialist or a Jack or Jill-of-all-trades?
  4. Should they have knowledge in a particular area?
  5. How do you want to communicate with them?
  6. When are they available?
  7. What time zone/country are they in?
  8. Are they an individual or do they have a team available to support you?

Once you’ve completed your profile, you can begin to use your business network to find them; by asking associates, and even clients, if they know of anyone who meets your requirements. Since these are the people who know you best, in a professional sense, they will have a better idea of whom you may be able to work with.

For more on why you should take these 5 team building tips for DIY designers seriously, take a look at this video from a man I respect, Lloyd Princeton, of Design Management Company.