By the time that you realize that you need help in your business you are likely already at capacity – adding the task “hire an assistant” or “find a social media manager” to your to-do list is overwhelming. Because while the idea of having help sounds lovely, the idea of finding help, training help, managing help and making sure that your standards don’t suffer in the process is pretty daunting when you’re already at your limit.
Once you’re at capacity, researching all of the best practices and tactical strategies for hiring and growing a team could trigger a spiral of overwhelming. And as a mentor for small business owners, I’ve observed that this usually leads to further procrastination.
In this article, I’m going to walk you through 5 things that you can do to reduce the pressure and overwhelm of growing your team and set yourself up for success in the long term. Once you’ve implemented these five strategies, you can then take advantage of your expanded capacity to slowly introduce best practices and systems that will further support your business.
1. Don’t Expect Perfection Right Off the Bat
Whether you are waiting to find the perfect hire or until you have your process perfectly mapped out and ready to pass off, waiting until you’re sure the adjustment process will go perfectly will only leave you doing further research, leading to more overwhelm and ultimately out of action.
If you feel like you aren’t ready to get help because you haven’t figured out exactly how to make it all work yet, know that that is actually to be expected. The truth about growing a team is that there will likely be some growing pains, some things won’t go to plan and adjustments will be necessary. That part is pretty close to unavoidable, so expecting it and being ready for it, rather than trying to avoid it entirely, is key.
For entrepreneurs who have grown accustomed to doing everything themselves, giving up any amount of control and risking something not going perfectly can be truly scary! But it comes with the territory. So rather than focusing your energy on trying to figure it all out ahead of time, divert your focus toward providing feedback at the moment, making adjustments as needed and reminding yourself that the initial fear is normal.
2. Ask Questions, Admit What You Don’t Know and Let People do Their Jobs
When you’re first hiring, it can be easy to forget that the person you’re hiring is just as concerned with your satisfaction as you are! And if you hire well, they probably know how to do their job even better than you do.
So right from the first moment that you meet your potential hire, be honest about what you need their help with and what you aren’t quite sure about! Let them show you their expertise by offering helpful support and contributing ideas for how they can help. This is about moving forward together rather than making yourself responsible for all of the planning.
Once you have some new people on your team, approach your team meetings and communications collaboratively, asking for their input and expertise.
This approach will reduce overwhelm on your part and allow you to be supported to focus on your role. Second, it will create ownership for your team members and allow them some freedom to enjoy their job. And third, it will allow you to fully benefit from their expertise!
3. Build-in Extra Space for Communication Upfront and Document Your Process
It’s OK to tweak and perfect your processes as you go and in fact, this will likely create even better SOPs (standard operating procedures) since they will track with what your team does rather than what you think you should do when you try to map your processes ahead of time.
In the beginning, build in standing team meetings so that you can communicate what is on your plate and what you need help with. Start to document the items that keep coming up and let your team members weigh in on workflows that they think would be effective.
This is a great place to take advantage of HoneyBook’s email templates and workflow features. What communications are you needing to send on a routine basis? Either you or a team member can go back and find past emails that you’ve sent and turn them into templates, perfectly capturing your voice. Then, use the Workflows feature to automate when these emails go out and to create to-do items that have routinely come up in team meetings.
The key is to give yourself the grace to perfect as you go rather than expecting yourself to build out all of the workflows and templates perfectly ahead of time. HoneyBook is so user-friendly that your new team members can help do this for you once they’ve gotten their feet wet. (Hint: VAs often love that kind of stuff because it makes their job much easier in the long run. And if they’re going to be the ones handling it, let them do it!)
4. Be Clear and Get Used to Uncomfortable Conversations
For steps one to three on this list to be effective, you must be willing to be clear and direct and sometimes have uncomfortable conversations. If you’re willing to do that, then you will set your team up for success. If you instead want everything to be perfect immediately and are unwilling to address the things that go wrong with clear expectations and direct feedback, you will likely find yourself losing team members, ending contracts, or doing things yourself that someone could help you with because it doesn’t get done right when you pass it off.
Pro Tip: When you start growing your team, you are stepping into a leadership role. And if it is the first time you’ve had to give direct feedback, it will likely feel uncomfortable. But know that as long as you give people the benefit of the doubt and assume that everyone is doing their best, they will appreciate you being direct.
5. Address Dichotomies and All-Or-Nothing Thinking
Whenever you find yourself pushing up against a tough ceiling, there are likely some dichotomies at play. This is either going to go perfectly or be a total disaster. I can either do it right and do it myself or I can pass it off and have my standards slip. I can either put in the elbow grease and have integrity or get help and be a sell-out.
For you to grow into a new level of business where you are supported and growing, letting things be easier for you and making more money, these outdated, black-and-white thinking patterns will have to go.
Why? Because if you subconsciously think that bringing on help will lead you to a business you don’t want, you will continue to hold yourself back from building the team that will ultimately be vital for your success.
Remember that you can get help, maintain your standards, grow your business, have an even better work-life balance and even when things don’t go well, if you trust yourself to lead, you can provide feedback, make adjustments and recover. Learning to do those things well will be a process, but all you need to do now is take that first step.