How to Stop Playing it Small and Grow your Team

It was a sunny day in the fall of 2015. I had rehearsed the lines over and over in my head.

“This job just isn’t a good fit for me.”

“I’m taking my career in another direction.”

It was the scariest thing I had done in my life: quit a coveted director position that was supposed to be my “dream job” after just six months. My gut had fought this position since day one—it was making me physically sick. And at the back of my mind, the little voice saying I should start my own business was turning into a scream. So after the standard two weeks, there I was, unemployed with just one option: to finally open a floral design business after dreaming of it for 16 years. It was now or never.

 

When I initially started out, I wanted to keep it small. Smaller wedding floral jobs, smaller risk. I’m not a risk-taker by nature, so going it alone without benefits or steady paychecks had my anxiety in overdrive. I knew I could hustle, and I got far on my hard work ethic. But staying in my “sweet spot,” where I was in full control of each element of my burgeoning business, was quickly growing impossible. Our success was swift and unexpected. I knew I had to grow a team.

As creative entrepreneurs, it can be incredibly difficult to relinquish control of aspects of your business. After all, our independence and confidence in our services got us all to this point. But as I discovered, opening up the business to partnerships with other creatives whose skill sets compliment mine, while also capitalizing on their strengths, has been a game-changer and catalyst for growth. Letting people see behind the curtain gives you a fresh set of eyes, which helps you improve your processes. This lets you focus your energy on what you do best, while cultivating and expanding your team’s skill sets.

 

 

I personally strive to maintain a creative culture of “good vibes only.” I try to foster a safe space for my team to suggest improvements and take on projects that interest them. Our interview process is fun and light-hearted. However, I can tell if someone is really a good fit through a working interview, which we do while setting up for an event. Finding someone that meshes with our team is crucial in maintaining a positive work environment, and I’m very protective of this team energy. After 10 years in the corporate world, I’ve learned that one employee with a negative attitude can affect your entire team.

Expansion of both your team and the business itself doesn’t always come easy. I am constantly weighing the options of expanding our services and our space while staying true to our business. Trying out new things and learning as we go has taken the business in directions I never dreamed of. It’s been an incredible creative challenge (in a good way!) Thanks to this growth mindset and our adaptation to change, our business booked 75 weddings and events and taught a dozen workshops in just our second year of business.

 

Learning to trust others with increased responsibility has made me grow as a leader and given our employees a sense of ownership. Plus, taking on larger events has taught me to guide a team toward creating floral installations we’re all proud of. And success is sweeter when shared.

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