How to Build Your Team from the Ground Up
If you read my blog a few weeks ago, I talked about THE BIGGEST mistake most creative entrepreneurs are making: not building an effective team. If you haven’t read that post yet, do us both a favor and check it out before you read on!
If you did read that post, then you know I left off by encouraging you to identify your strengths as the leader of your team. You can’t possibly know how to build a team until you know what skills you do have, and which skills you’re lacking! Identifying our strengths gives us the power to own our own tasks and delegate effectively.
Now, for some of you, just admitting that you don’t have all the strengths might feel debilitating. As entrepreneurs, we’re used to doing it all on our own. While that mentality might be helpful for trailblazers, it’s not useful for sustaining a business. Let me say that another way. You’ll probably see a lot of entrepreneurs going at it alone. You will see ZERO successful CEOs with a team of one. In order to own a successful business and live the life you want, you need a team. So, while I feel for ya, get over it! We have work to do.
In Part One of this post, I told you how I had to really be strategic about the employees I kept on staff after I decided to do florals full-time. At the end of that process, I was left with myself, Kellie, and Danae. Let me tell you how I found the perfect roles for them, and how I’ve built my team to what it is today.
When my entire staff took the Strengthfinders test, I discovered that Kellie possessed the strengths of Relator and Learner. Danae had the strengths of Strategizer and Achiever. This meant that Kellie was uniquely qualified to foster relationships and thrived in a work environment where she felt valued and trusted. She can also pick up on new skills very easily. The skill and subject doesn’t matter as much as the process of learning itself. This made Kellie the ideal person to take on all of our admin work, proposal writing, and flower ordering-- all things that I don’t enjoy doing!
Danae’s strengths mean that she can take in a lot of information and decide on the best way forward. She’s not easily overwhelmed. She’s also a great self-starter because she’s motivated by needing to end the day feeling a sense of tangible accomplishment. Danae’s strengths made her perfect in the role as second designer. She took on lower-budget weddings and also took charge of client appreciation.
By discovering our strengths, I could delegate more effectively. I was no longer distracting myself doing work I didn’t like and didn’t do well, and my team felt empowered and encouraged taking on roles they were uniquely equipped for.
We were already so much happier and more effective at this point, however, there were still tasks I had written down as things I’d love to off-load, and I was out of team-members to take those tasks on! Some examples: processing flowers, cleaning the studio, book-keeping, cleaning the studio, stocking the studio, running errands, etc. These were all essential tasks, but not tasks best suited to myself, Kellie, or Danae. It would make our team less productive and less profitable to have one of the three of us complete these tasks.
That told me I needed to make more hires. And this time, I needed to find specific people to fill specific roles, instead of trying to make existing employees fill roles that they weren’t made to fill.
I hired Brittani as a bookkeeper, Mary to clean the studio, and Emma as an office assistant and studio manager. I required each of them to take the Strengthsfinder test before they joined the team so I could ensure they fit the roles for which they were needed.
You’re probably thinking, “Sounds great, Jessica, but I’m still figuring out how to pay myself regularly, let alone salaries for six people.”
I did not and do not pay each of these people a salary. Let me explain.
Let’s look at Kellie’s job. Admin and Head of Operations. This is a salaried position. Because of the nature of her work, Kellie needs to be available year-round to answer emails and connect with our clients. I need to know what to allocate to Kellie each month, so I pay Kellie the same amount each month.
Danae gets paid on commission. A second designer sort of acts like a contracted employee. Danae makes a certain percentage of any wedding she completes. She makes the company money with those weddings, and she makes a portion of that amount. In other words, she only makes money from weddings we book, so money isn’t going out unless there’s money coming in.
Our studio manager, Emma, gets paid an hourly rate. That might be $10/hr. We also cap the monthly hours at 40 hours, so I know I’m never going to pay more than $400 a month to my studio manager.
The bookkeeper gets paid $500/month. We both know what needs to be accomplished each month, and Brittani can compete this work in five hours or in thirty hours, it’s up to her. She’s still being paid $500 that month for the work she does.
Finally, our studio cleaner, Mary. She gets paid $50 a week to clean the studio.
There have been times where I’ve paid Kellie more than I’ve paid myself, because I needed to keep Kellie on the team. Her work is invaluable and I knew that if I sacrificed my own salary in the short term, the work we were doing as a team would make it worth it in the long-run. And let me tell you, it was so worth it. If you want growth badly enough, you’ll make it happen.
Every year, I take the month of November as a planning month and reassess our team needs. I ask myself, are there roles someone needs to off-load in order to be more productive? Are there game-changing tasks that are slipping through the cracks because we have a hole in our team?
This past year, that role was submissions. I knew for our business to take the next steps forward, we needed to improve and streamline our submissions process. This wasn’t something I wanted to delegate to anyone currently on our team, so I needed to find someone to work on submissions. We found someone great, and she also works on commission. When she gets us featured, she makes a certain amount!
You have the power and freedom to identify your needs and fill roles so your business can grow with purpose. You might have to endure temporary discomfort in order to step out into something new. You might have to take a pay cut, or learn how to hire, or reach out to someone new, but this is so much better than the alternative. If you don’t grow your team, not only will your business fail to thrive, but you’ll actually become worse at the things that had been strengths. The more you try to take on, things you should be delegating to experts, the more will slip through the cracks.
If you want to achieve your business goals, you need to strategically build your team.
You can’t afford to wait another day!
To help you build your own team, we’ve created a FREE resource: STEP BY STEP GUIDE TO BUILDING YOUR TEAM FROM THE GROUND UP (This is only a small glimpse into my team building; for the full scope, click here to sign up for the waitlist of my tell-all course, The Business Behind the Blooms.)