Nearly 90% of small businesses here in the US have under 20 employees, which is me and happened wayyy sooner than I would have ever dreamed. If you’re like me, then, you’re probably ready before you THINK you are—let’s talk about how to build a team.
This is a first for me, I’ve never ~really~ shared (beyond podcast interviews!) how I grew and scaled my business to our current team size OR how to build a team.
I’m SUPER passionate about running as lean as possible (I like 55% or less of revenue to go to overhead!), but I can’t do this all on my own—I’d run this into the ground & burn out in a heartbeat!
Early on in my business, I definitely thought that any type of outsourcing or anything correlated with how to build a team, was for the big kids. BUTT then I realized you hit that speed bump a whole lot faster than you think. ❗️❗️
Before I jump into the 5 things you need to do before you build a team or outsource whatever’s next on your plate—I want to walk your through how my team is structured.
Let’s jump in!
How I Built My Team
Here’s a quick run down on who’s on my team and what they do— I’ll go in order of hiring:
➕My first hire on my team was my mom 🙂 she’s incredible at etiquette and I hired her to go over and look at all the calligraphy orders that I was churning out (at this point, I did calligraphy and copywriting in my business) She would proof every envelope, flag them for mistakes or notice any etiquette errors, then hand them back to me. She would also pack up the orders and help get them to the brides.
Since I don’t do that anymore, mom is not on my team but she’s always there to lend a listening ear, so I guess she still is.;) Love ya mom 🙂
➕Two copywriters. Next up I hired two copywriters to come on and support the client side of my business. Since then one of them now,( hey, Say;)) manages all of our client services for the agency side of my business. Sarah oversees the intake process of any clients that are coming on that want to work with us in a one on one capacity, whether it is a strategy hour call, a day rate all the way up to our full-service packages. She also manages the workflow of the writers that are helping out on it. ~Nothing~ in my business is written by *one* writer, everything has a team on it and she manages all that.
➕Bookkeeper. I went just over a year before I realized half my Fridays were spent looking at my little Excel spreadsheet, looking at receipts, and then typing up and adding everything. Sooo I contracted a bookkeeping team— still use them to this day.
➕Customer Service/Admin Support. Enter Rachel (fun fact, she was my college roommate). Rach is in the inbox every day. She’s essentially the gatekeeper to any messages that come into the business, any partnership requests, interview requests, customer service things, those all hit her first, and she’s managing and farming those out.
➕Content & Social Media Manager. Anna knows our brand voice and our vision for any of the writing in the business. I talk about this in a recent video, but she comes in as a second writer, but instead of working on client stuff, is focused on in house communication and content.
Now, I also still pay contractors for jobs—YouTube strategy (Trena!) and reporting to Pinterest strategy and reporting (Vanessa), and from Facebook ads (Kerry) to tech support during a launch (Danielle and Shannon).
Steering the whole ship is my integrator Kristin, who I just brought on this year, about my fourth year in business. I loved project management back when I worked in corporate but I realized very quickly that you can’t do project management of your business and run the business. Enter Kristen.
I know that seems big, but my philosophy is to hire experts. These people have other clients—similar to when I contract out my copywriting services. I only have 4 employees, everyone else is contracted.
Okay, let’s get into the 5 things I would recommend (I learned the hard way) you should do before you outsource and how to build your team.
No. 1| Know how much your time is worth
The more time you can spend focusing on the things that help really move the needle on your income, the better.
Time is money as an entrepreneur.
Recently on Instagram, Koko asked what to outsource first in your business and how do you know… THIS, sister. This.
I walk students through this more in-depth inside my Art of Efficiency course, but today I’m giving you the quick and dirty version.
Essentially, what you need to do is figure out your 20% zone of genius and then you also need to find out your hourly rate for your business.
It’s not what you’re charging your clients for, but it’s what you’re using as a benchmark in your business to make sure that the tasks you’re spending your time on are worth it.
Tasks that are NOT in my zone of genius NOR worth spending my hourly rate on—these are first on the chopping block to go…annnddd queue my first contractor 🙂
The first contractor that I ever paid in my business was a sweet graphic designer who helped me create different templates for the freebies that I wanted to produce.
I found that:
A. it’s not my zone of genius
B. I was spending so much time hemming and hawing and tweaking little graphic developments.
I realized that’s just not the place I need to camp out. I spent $200 on her to make a few templates, I’ve used them for years, a great investment.
If you’re bringing in someone, the first place to put their hours towards are these things that are either in that 80% of not your zone of genius, or the things that are taking up a lot of time and are just not worth that hourly rate. This is KEY in how to build your team.
To me? Content marketing, building our sales structure, overall business strategy, client work … that’s my deep work that I’m really good at.
So if you’re bringing on someone, the FIRST place to use their hours is something that is in that 80% of not-your-zone-of-genius. You can start to see this when you find the value of your time.
No. 2| Have workflows recorded and housed somewhere.
I DO think there’s merit in knowing enough to be dangerous, at first, about different tasks before you outsource them and build your team. I don’t believe you need to *master* them, but you should know enough to be dangerous.
Key to giving your business baby up.
Quick example: Before I handed things over to the bookkeeping company I use, I would at least figure out how much I made every single week and how much went out.
I have said this before—I’m *not* a math person. It was taking me(like I mentioned this earlier) a soild 4-5 hours on Fridays to sit there and run all the calculations from the business. I decided I would rather pay somebody BUT I knew how it worked.
I knew the method of it, I knew the theory behind it, I knew what numbers and metrics I needed to know to make wise decisions and then I can hand it off. I can’t stress this enough, You HAVE to have your workflows and anything in your business very clearly outlined before you hand this off.
Some contractors or employees will have their own outline, but you at least need to be able to communicate to them, how you like things to go and what results you’re expecting.
If I’m gonna do something three times, then I am either gonna create a workflow or template or something, ’cause I hate reinventing the wheel.
But—and I cannot stress this enough—you MUST have workflows and automations dialed in if you want to actually get things off your plate. It’s hard enough as it is! This is how to get organized before they start.
Have the template, run the template.
I’ve done a YouTube video before where I talk through my board in Asana called a Company Guidebook that houses all my workflows. Make sure to click here to get a behind the scenes peak into how my workflows are set up.
Someone asked recently what the best platforms to manage & communicate with your team—we use these three:
- Voxer :we found really helpful if you tend to talk out ideas better than you type them, or have a few people on your team that you need to hash out ideas with. Voxer can be a little more helpful, I found for that.
- Slack : Slack primarily is just all business communications, it’s a chat platform essentially.
- Asana : Mainly used for project management
No. 3|Brand Voice Guide.
Especially if you’ve got someone on your team who is helping take your content and turn it into a blog post or a script and farming it out into different social media posts. Or if you have somebody in your inbox managing customer service or somebody that is interfacing with your clients.
You’ve GOT to have some sort of overall brand messaging style guide for them to use, to know that they’re sounding on point and on voice.
This is a MUST. It’s why we start here inside Copywriting for Creatives—it’s essential.
For my business, the style guide itself is linked off from the company guide book—anytime I’ve brought somebody on, but even when it was just me, I had all of this dialed down into this messaging document.
Here’s a quick snapshot of what this looks like:
These are the pillars of brand voice, some adjectives that I use to describe it. A lot of these I’ve done some really nerdy studies on & I also worked with another copywriter to help set this up. Getting another copywriter to come in and say, okay, this is how I would describe it when you go on to explain it to other people—soooo helpful.
This guide is just helping people understand what I sound like. When I’m writing for myself, I can use this as a North Star. When I’m letting somebody help answer customer and client questions, I can say, this is what we sound like, go forth and use it. 🙂
No. 4| Have a system in place to track time.
This ties back to tip number one, you need to know about how long things are taking you at your hourly rate to be able to come up with a wise decision on is it smart to outsource it or not? I talk about time tracking all the time. Here’s why it’s just so valuable when it comes to figuring out what is worth getting off your plate.
Similar to step one, once you know your hourly rate, and you can calculate how long something takes you to do.
You can see ~real~ fast if that’s something that you need to keep up OR if it’s something you should handoff.
A couple of ways you can do this:
- I would absolutely recommend a tool like Toggl or something, that runs reports. The employees in my business who track their hours, I can communicate those with bookkeeping.
- I also really recommend you tracking your time, you can grab my free time tracker here.
Being able to go through seasons in my business where I do take stock of exactly how long things are taking me is immensely helpful. If you’re like me, you’ll find that things tend to take at least twice as long as you anticipate them taking. And once you can get used to that you can better map out your time and your whole schedule.
Now that you know about getting ready to outsource, if a piece of content creation is on that list, be sure to watch this video where I walk you through my Blog workflow and YouTube workflow.
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