When Abby started her health coaching business in 2012, she used her vast health experience to work directly with her clients and get massive results in their mind, body, and spirit.
What Abby was not prepared for, however, was actually running a business.
Without a bit of hiring, firing, training, or good-old-fashioned DIYing it with experience in her bag of tricks, Abby was at a total loss as her tiny health coaching practice began to grow. “They taught us a few business principles in the coaching program I went through, but the realities of it all were overwhelming,” she said.
As the online marketplace begins to crowd with small-business owners full of passion but little know-how, it’s those business owners who choose to put on the CEO hat and start thinking outside of themselves who will truly thrive.
Abby had identified her problem: She had a certain set of skills–highly valuable skills, at that–but she was lacking in others. She knew that the only way she would be able to grow and scale her business would be to start building a team. She had seen others who were in her program building teams and wondered how she would know who to hire and when.
The predicament Abby found herself in is a common one for many business owners. Here are the steps to consider along the way.
Repeat after me: Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should. As a solo entrepreneur, you’ve been wearing every hat in the closet: product creation, marketing, bookkeeping, legal, office management. And that’s not the path to growth. Identify where you are most useful to your business (this is where you make the most profit, FYI) and hire the rest.
Don’t think you can afford it? You’d be surprised at how few hours a week it takes a pro to manage your social media, reconcile your books, or organize your inbox. A small investment in offloading those tasks can mean greater return in your free brain space. After all, that freedom is what got you into running your own business in the first place.
When you are building your team, you are obviously looking for people who fill in the gaps in your skill set. The key in your growth is to actually hire others who are smarter than you all around–they will challenge you as a business owner and give you the space for growth.
Hint: Hate managing people? Hiring a team who is smarter than you will keep you from managing them. Once they have been on-boarded into your business model and methodology, they’ll manage themselves and even bring ideas and plans to you. Want to grow to the next level? A smart team can get you there.
The #1 fear of small business owners when they are in the process of hiring is “What if I make the wrong choice?” There’s a simple solution to that worry: Hire slow, fire fast.
When I first built my team, I tested out several potential hires over the course of three months. While you may not have the luxury of time on your side, you can give small projects to possible team members over time and see if you like the deliverables. Did they respond in a timely manner? Was the task you asked for accomplished with little back-and-forth? Do you feel confident in assigning more tasks to this person? Trust your gut on this one.
Use my favorite hiring test: The Layover Test. Would you want to be stuck in an airport on a long layover with this person? Yes or no? Any no (or even hesitation toward no) spells trouble for a long-term hire. Keep looking for the right fit.
Made a bad choice? Be up front. Let them know where the miss was, what you are really looking for, and, if you really mean it, if you’ll be keeping their information at hand for the future. You might find yourself in the fortunate predicament of too many good candidates so you’ll want to put a few of them in your back pocket. You know, for when you grow even bigger in your business.
Business growth can be painful at times. But when you have the right team and systems in place to manage it all, those growing pains aren’t quite as painful as you thought they might be. It just takes wearing that CEO hat and putting a little trust in the people around you and, most importantly, yourself.
—Val Geisler is the CEO of aspire&grow, a boutique consulting and support firm that works with solopreneurs and corporate clients alike to help them boost their bottom line with systems and technology. With more than 12 years of experience, she has worked with multi-national companies to nonprofits to brides to make big goals happen.