Lots of people assume that entrepreneurship is a lonely journey. You work long hours with only your email inbox for company, and rely on yourself and no one else when making big business decisions. Not only is entrepreneurship a challenge, it’s something you navigate alone. Right?
In my experience, it doesn’t have to be that way. You don’t have to make every decision alone. You don’t have to be an expert in everything. You don’t have to isolate yourself day in and day out. You may be running the show, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t find people to support you.
During the years I spent in traditional workplaces and, more recently, running my business, I’ve discovered the things that I love doing—and more importantly, the things I don’t love doing. I’m also confident in my strengths, one of which is the ability to delegate. I recognize that while I’m the expert in my own business, I’m not an expert in everything my business needs.
Over the past few years, I’ve enlisted the support of professionals in industries including graphic design, copywriting, web development, accounting, bookkeeping, and administrative support. Sometimes, like when I outsourced the design and development of my website when I first started my business, I’ve reached out to experts right away, knowing that I would only waste time and energy if I tried to tackle it alone. Other times, I’ve come to see a need for an expert’s help over time, like when I was two years into my business and still felt like I didn’t have a firm grasp of my finances. I brought in a team of people to support my business and personal goals and it made a huge difference not only to how I operated, but to my mindset about money.
Most recently, as I began my third year of business, I worked with a marketing consultant to help me organize and define my brand strategy going forward. Even with years of experience crafting strategy for small and large brands, I wanted to collaborate with someone who could brainstorm with me and offer a different perspective. As entrepreneurs, we’re often trapped in our own heads, and it’s amazing what can happen when we voice our thoughts, ideas, and goals with someone else.
Still, some entrepreneurs are reluctant to delegate. They may be hesitant to give up control on any aspect of their business, or they might not want to incur the expense of hiring someone. Why hire someone when I could do it myself?, some people ask. But trying to do everything yourself can quickly lead to burnout—while meanwhile, the alternative can lead to great things.
Whether you’re ready to start building your team or you still need to be convinced, here’s what I’ve learned from three years of finding the best people to support my business.
Delegating doesn’t have to be expensive.
It’s normal for your income to be inconsistent during the first few years of starting your business. This can make outsourcing a very scary prospect, and it may feel safer to keep every task and project in-house, regardless of how daunting or impossible it feels. (Learning coding overnight? Why not, right?) The reality, though, is that your time and energy is better spent if you delegate out tasks that will sap your in-house resources (mainly you), whether it’s because they’re too technical to handle alone, or they are simple tasks but tedious time-wasters. In my experience, finding someone to support you doesn’t have to be expensive. You can find part-time or virtual assistants at very reasonable rates, or you can even trade your services in exchange for help. This way, no money is exchanged, but you both get something useful for your businesses.
Keep the parts of your job that you enjoy and let the other parts go.
One of the best things about finding your team is that it allows you to be strategic about how you want to spend your time. To assess how your time is currently spent, I recommend using a tracker app like Harvest, Timely, or Toggl, and getting as detailed as you possibly can. Track your time for a week and see what categories take up the most of your time. If you find yourself logging a lot of hours doing work that someone else could do more effectively, consider whether you enjoy the time spent on those tasks. If you don’t, and you know that it could be outsourced, those are two great reasons to think about hiring someone. You likely can train someone on a lot of your daily tasks, from designing images for your social media to sending client invoices to doing research on your competitors.
On the other hand, if you love doing any of the things that take up big chunks of your time, or it’s important for you to hold onto them for any other reason, don’t feel like you have to give them up. For example, I actually like having control over my calendar and I don’t mind the administrative work that comes along with it, so I choose not to enlist an assistant’s help or use a calendar booking tool in my email signature. That’s a personal decision and it’s what works best for my business and work style. There are no right or wrong tasks to delegate—it’s all about what will help you work smarter and more strategically.
Don’t be discouraged if it takes a few tries to find the right people for you.
Not every partnership is going to work out. Work styles and personalities don’t always align, desired rates don’t always match up—the list goes on. Still, don’t be discouraged if it takes a few tries to find the right people for you. I’ve gone through a few different web developers and graphic designers to maintain my website, and while some didn’t work out, I ultimately found a team that’s incredibly supportive and understanding of all my business needs. They just get me.
As I’ve teamed up with more and more people, I’ve learned what works for me and what doesn’t work for me, and that helps me be smarter and more selective when hiring and seeking support. It’s the best feeling in the world to find people who you can trust and who you truly connect with, but it’s also important to remember that not every business relationship works out exactly as you hoped. Don’t lose hope if not every hire or partnership is a success, and don’t feel tied to a situation that’s not working. Your people are out there.