Ah yes – finally! Now here’s a topic, I can sink my teeth into: Building Teams (Don’t miss my P.S. where I include some helpful tips)
Today’s challenge: How will you build a team around your vision and work smart instead of hard?
Let me just say, I’m a huge advocate of building a virtual team. Without a doubt, I know having a team has allowed me to have much more time to do the things I love and create a life around my values.
Now I have to admit, years ago, in the very beginning, I was kind of nervous about the idea – the added expense, the responsibility of managing people, guaranteeing they’d always have work, being able to pay them etc. I’ve generally been more of a ‘bottom line’ kind of girl. That was my security, so I was adverse to anything that threatened to eat away at that. But now, all that’s changed; I really believe it’s impossible to grow your company without a team.’ Forget eating away at the bottom line, without one you’ll eat away at your life!
On our own, Nathan and I only had so many hours we could contribute in a day. And we pretty much worked all of them. We weren’t just burning the candle at both ends, we torched it!
Without our team, we never would’ve come this far in our business and personally I never would’ve been able to experience the type of freedom I’ve talked about without them. I thank God for them everyday.
When you start out on your own, you have all these dreams about how much freedom owning your own business will mean – only to find that you now own a job not a business. You can thank Robert Kyosaki for that one. When I read that in his book Cashflow Quadrant, it was like a huge slap in the face!
But he was right, I didn’t have freedom at all. I was more tied down than I used to be because the business couldn’t operate without me. Clients needs couldn’t be met, money couldn’t be made and I couldn’t simply walk away from my desk at 5. And don’t even think of trying to take a real vacation!
Now, I’m barely at my desk. With a team, I can focus on crucial things, like working on our business instead of just working in it. It’s easier to launch new ideas, generate products that produce ‘residual income’ and my favourite part ‘focus on creating more value for our clients’. And for us that also means we end up getting paid more and work less. Now mind you, more work still gets done, it simply means it doesn’t all need to get done by me.
What I love about having a team is not only do they do the work I don’t have time to do or can’t do, they also enjoy doing the work I don’t want to do and that’s where real freedom begins. Remember that quote from Jonathan Fields I talked about – ‘creating a business that demands from you want you want to give?‘ That’s what it’s meant for us.
I guess I have an unfair advantage with this question having not only built teams for our own businesses, but through our company ActiveLabs we also help other businesses improve the collaboration and productivity of their own teams – essentially helping them manage their business so it’s not managing them. We want to help them enjoy their work and life more like we’ve been able to.
Enjoying life, optimizing, learning, growing, creating and writing now comprise the biggest part of my day. And resting- can’t forget resting!
The recovered workaholic ;)
3 Helpful tips you can use when building your own virtual team
Systemize: I can’t stress enough the importance of this word. It saves time, it saves stress and it saves money. Sometimes building processes and documenting procedures can feel like a daunting task (and if it does I can help you with that – shameless plug haha) but it’s definitely worth it.
For our own business and most of the organizations we consult with, we use activeCollab to manage projects. It’s a self hosted project management system (similar to Basecamp).
Having some sort of system is crucial because it’s useless trying to manage things in your inbox. A system helps you easily assign tasks, track time and deadlines. It also helps serve as a helpful repository for data, files and other useful information when the work is done. If you’ve ever had to find a file months later in your inbox you know what I mean :)
Automate: Don’t overlook the huge benefit of software when it comes to adding valuable members to your team. With helpful tools like Freshbooks for less than $20/mo, we were able to create a ‘billing team’. This handy service automated all of our billing so we’re easily able to send out recurring invoices, invoice reminders, track payments and do reporting. We can even see when our clients have viewed their invoices and can mail out hard copy versions without even leaving our seat!
Communicate: When you have a team, this one’s a bit of a no brainer but how you communicate can be key especially with a virtual team. Screencasting and video can be your best friend. It helps to ensure the person on the other end understands your requests the way you see it. Not only that, it provides a helpful reference tool when your team has to do the same task days, months or even years later. And tasks can easily be reassigned to someone else without your involvement (check out Jing and Screencastomatic for handy options you can use).
Want some specific recommendations for your team? Let’s talk.