do what you love

Someone asked me recently, “If you knew then what you know now, what would you do differently as a start-up entrepreneur?”

That question gave me pause … not because I couldn’t answer it, but because there are so many things I wish I’d known back then when I starting out as a small-business entrepreneur. After thinking about it for a while, I realized the one key piece of the puzzle that has proven to be the most valuable — my team.

Without my team, I’d be nowhere. Dead in the water. Broke. Not because I don’t have talents of my own, and not because I can’t run a business. Simply because I’m not a Super Hero. And guess what? Neither are you.

The sooner you accept that you need help in certain areas of your business, the sooner you’ll be able to get back to doing what you love — what you’re good at doing. And isn’t that why you started your business to begin with? So you wouldn’t have to work at a job you hate, making some rich corporate giant get richer? That sure is my motivation!

Delegating is Hard

It’s really hard, especially as an entrepreneur. Your business is your baby. Trusting others to care for it the way you do is difficult. But here’s the thing, when you put your business in a bubble where no one can get near it, it won’t grow. It gets stifled.

Plus, you become exhausted because you’re trying to be everything to everyone all of the time. Remember, you’re not a Super Hero, and no one expects you to be one.

Ask for Help!

“But how can I know who to trust?” you ask? You can never know for sure. There, I said it. And I know that’s not the answer you were hoping to hear, but it’s true. That’s part of what makes going into business for yourself such a risk. Now, I don’t want to sound cynical. There are a lot of great people out there, many of whom can help elevate your business to great heights.

My best advice for how to uncover great people is to ask for referrals. Talk to friends, family, colleagues — ask who they trust for fill in the blank. Know someone who just bought a house? Ask if they’d recommend their real estate agent. Know someone who’s making a pretty penny in the stock market? Ask who does their books. Know someone super busy who never misses a meeting or deadline? Ask how they keep so organized.

Let Others in to Help Grow Your Business

Ultimately, your goal is to grow your business. As your business grows, the demands grow as well — demands to produce more products, ship items faster, serve clients more efficiently, manage more money, stay on task, on budget, on time… The last thing you want to do is find yourself in a position where your business has grown substantially, but you don’t have the manpower to keep up.

That’s why it’s so important to carve out time to find (and hire) a team to support the business around you. Let me stop you before you say, “I can’t afford to hire anyone.” I’m telling you that you can’t afford not to.

It doesn’t mean you have to spend a ton of money putting dozens of people on big salaries. You don’t have to set up a massive human resources department to deal with vacation pay, taxes, etc. More than ever, people will work on contract. It keeps things simple. You need someone to XYZ for ABC dollars a month. That’s the contract — no muss, no fuss. Pay only for what you need.

Build Your Team in 5 Easy Steps

Here are 5 key steps toward building a small team to help grow your business:

Step 1: Make a list of at least 3 things which you absolutely love to do, and that you’re a complete rock star at doing.

Step 2: Make a list of at least 3 things that you hate to do, and that you suck at doing.

My lists look something like this:

  • Strengths: Speaking, promoting, copywriting, proposals, closing the deal.
  • Weaknesses: Accounting, project management, analytics

The things that you hate doing are sucking most of your time and energy, leaving little energy to do what you do best.

Step 3: Identify where you need the most help. I’m a creative type, so I needed left-brain help — an accountant, a PM and an digital analyst.

Step 4: Find the right people. Talk to family, friends, colleagues, former colleagues, friends of friends, family and colleagues. Ask who they use to do their books. Ask who they use for those tasks that you’re not great at doing. Finding someone willing to work on a part-time, as-needed basis isn’t as hard as you think – not in today’s digital world.

Step 5: Spend the time in advance to bring your new team up to speed on your business. Yes, it takes a little extra effort early on, but you’ll be glad you did it because it will give you the confidence needed to delegate those pesky tasks you’re not so great at doing, while freeing up your time to do what you love.

If I Knew Then What I Know Now

I’ve learned a ton of lessons throughout my entrepreneurial journey, but if there’s one piece of advice I could give to any small-business owner, it’d be to ask for help. Start small, spend what you can afford and scale up slowly. But get help. Don’t be afraid to delegate. Don’t let fear stop you from loosening those reigns. Take your business out of that bubble so it can breathe and grow. You’re only as strong as the team around you, so ask for help and watch your business thrive!

What’s your best piece of advice for entrepreneurs? Share with us in the comments below!

Have a question or need advice? Buzz me anytime — I’m here to help.