How Entrepreneurs Can Get the Benefits of a Team (Without Selling Part of Their Business)

Posted by Heather Villa, CMA, MBA, MSM on March 16, 2010 in: Delegation for Success, Freelancing

Photo credit: Navegabem

I have the very good fortune of meeting a lot of entrepreneurs and working with them to make their businesses more successful. One thing I’ve learned over the years is that entrepreneurs who work with others are more frequently successful than those that work alone. I’m not saying that solopreneurs will be less successful than those who partner to start a business. Rather, I’m saying that solopreneurs, freelancers, coaches – the “one person show” business owners – will be more successful when they collaborate with others in some capacity.

In this blog I want to talk about some ways you dial other people into your business so you don’t have to do it all yourself.

1.    Outsource. You’ve heard me beat this drum before. Outsourcing parts of your business costs less because paying someone to do it for you is usually faster and cheaper than you doing it yourself (And, depending on what it is, they may do it better). Start by outsourcing the administrative work and then, as you regain capacity, look for a salesperson who can help you generate more business. Lots of people start with more marketing, which is okay, but marketing will only get you so far without sales. Once you have a sales system in place, and humming smoothly, then start marketing.

2.    Joint venture. You may not want to split your business in half and partner with a co-owner, but you can joint venture on specific projects. You’ll split the rewards, split the risks, and likely enjoy greater success because 1+1 often equals way more than 2. To get started joint venturing, find someone who you work well with and who has a similar target market as you (even if they do something completely different for that target market). Set up a handful of these JVs with various people and work hard to get them running as much on autopilot as possible.

3.    Intern. I’ll be honest, I’m torn about this one. I like the idea of an intern and I know there are a lot of people who are willing to give up some of their time to work for free to learn the ropes from someone who is more successful. But I’ve also seen internships go very wrong and basically turn into indentured servitude. And I’ve seen entrepreneurs who offer internships to unsuspecting people (in a veiled effort to get free labor for their administrative tasks). An intern, though, should receive some kind of money AND attribution for their work (the money, however small, honors their time and the attribution gives them a foothold to branch out on their own) and their work should cover critical aspects of the business so that they actually learn the ropes. To create a “check and balance” for yourself, make sure you have a scope of responsibilities and time limit in place so that everyone comes away feeling that it was a winning scenario.

4.   Mentor. If you think of an intern as a “hands-on mentorship”, you yourself should also consider finding a mentor that you can learn from. I’ve seen all kinds of mentors, from those who mentor in broad general concepts to those who mentor for periods of time in very specific elements. Because I believe that we are each building unique businesses, I prefer the “limited time” approach to mentorships in which you find someone to mentor you for a period of time to attain a specific level of success in business. Then find a new mentor for the next step of your business.

5.   Coaches. Yes, I consider these to be different from mentors. Mentors are someone you look up to and aspire to be like (at least in one area), and often have to do with attaining a level of success in business while coaches (at least in my experience) give you the tools and resources to help you achieve something specific. Think of mentors as creating overall success horizontally across the business while coaches often develop strength in vertical aspects of the business. As well, since you are more likely to pay to be coached, there is a certain amount of motivation to follow-through that you don’t even get with mentors.

With these 5 people on your “team”, every entrepreneur can create and grow a thriving business without having to give up part ownership in their company.

Go Team!

Heather Recommends:

I love working with coaches, freelancers, and entrepreneurs to help them become more successful. If you'd like to improve your business, find out how I can help.

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