Are you a solo entrepreneur ready to spread your wings and grow a team? We’ve been there! When Brooke and I (Sarah) started The Finders Keepers in 2008, it was just the two of us, a side hustle. In 2009 we were ready to hire our first intern, who later became our first employee. We’ve been in business for 14 years now and have eight part-time staff, so we’ve learned a thing or two about hiring, growing and nurturing a team. Whether you’re only looking to hire one person or ready to scale for growth and hire a few more people, there are many things to consider.
1. Start small, learn and adapt:
Start small, and scale when you need to. Our first hire was an internship agreement that turned into a one-day-a-week role. Starting small like this allowed us to test how things worked for both of us, learn and adapt as we began growing our team.
All our first hires were contracting roles that could be flexible on both sides. If you do this, be sure to watch your cash flow and ensure that the staff member brings value to the brand’s growth and ability to stay on top of daily demands.
Sometimes it is worth taking a risk to level up. Hiring often leads to scaling up a business, and remembering that a new team member can bring in more revenue by doing tasks you can no longer do, is a big step in the right direction.
Be really clear on the role and what you’re setting out to achieve together, and be open to adapting it.
2. Set your vision, direction and clear goals
When they work for you, team members want to feel inspired, knowing that you’re working towards something exciting together. If you don’t inspire and uplift, it’s hard for anyone to feel as driven and motivated as you do.
The vision should be impact-driven and straightforward, with clear success markers. Make sure that it’s clear enough to move forward with a series of small tasks that can actually be achieved, and be sure to celebrate those achievements together! Often we see lofty vision and mission statements in business plans that team members can’t really connect with.
3. Tackle the hard stuff first:
One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned is to have the courage to tackle the most uncomfortable things and conversations as soon as possible. Instead of leaving things to either fester or grow stagnant, jump headfirst into tackling them as soon as any niggling begins.
Sometimes tackling the hard stuff will take several goes to get right, and other times you’ve already dodged the bullet by getting to it first. It could be discussing and managing things internally with the team in the right way, meaning lots of listening, reflecting and working on solutions, or showing up to diffuse a challenging situation externally that my team has learned from.
Taking this approach also helps team members do the same; they’ll start to come to you for honest and upfront feedback. They’ll develop the same values to deal with external issues with compassion, learning to avoid being emotionally reactive.
4. Empowering leadership in your team
Leadership exists beyond your team. It’s how you show up in the world, treat your clients and customers: how you step in and be of value.
I believe in empowering your team to be their own leaders in their role, be champions of their domain and strive to learn and grow. Giving them the power of authority to make their own decisions without constantly interrupting you or second-guessing themselves gives them the gift of being their own leader. We give our team autonomy to achieve and don’t micromanage, and this shows up in them being very proud of what they can do. It also motivates them to learn, evolve and improve what they do every day.
I love reverse mentoring – learning from your team. A good leader seeks guidance, and it’s an opportunity for growth on both sides.
5. Get to know your team’s working styles
Be open to learning what your team needs to do their best work. Do they need mentoring? Do they need recognition? Do they need space and room to grow? Do they want you to get out of the way? They all learn differently, and their style of working is different to yours.
One of the best questions I asked my team recently was how do we cultivate our best work? And we continually ask that question. Leadership requires a feedback loop, and you’ll continue to grow by listening.
Sarah knows a thing or two about nurturing a happy team and chats to Pru Chapman from Owners Collective on her podcast, sharing some pearls of wisdom she’s learned along the way – including how she’s harnessed her introverted leadership style as a strength. Listen to the podcast here – Spotify or Apple Music.
“Leadership is a bit like parenting in that you can learn as much as possible and have the foundations of being a good leader, but you learn so much from actually doing and being in that role.”
Ready to be a purpose-driven Leader?
Introducing: The One Wild Ride Program.
This 8-week course is designed to help the next generation of change-makers and innovators use business as a force for good. Redefining ‘success’ in business for an impact-led business revolution.
Pru Chapman is the Founder of Owners Collective, a dedicated community and education hub for purpose-led entrepreneurs and the host of the One Wild Ride podcast and magazine. With more than 15 years of experience in business strategy, psychology and leadership development, Pru has helped over 15,000 founders launch, leverage, and lead their businesses.
Take our word for it:
“Pru’s mentoring and guidance has been a game changer for the Finders Keepers! We’ve been able to identify areas of growth, deal with weaknesses and align with our purpose” – Sarah Thornton
The 8-week program covers:
- How to lead your team with clarity, vision and confidence
- How to build a company culture built on trust, respect and integrity
- How to understand different personality types and effective communication
- How to feel confident having challenging conversations
- How to have the ongoing systems in place to support and scale your business & much more!
- PLUS: Receive fortnightly Live Q&A Sessions with Pru AND action calls with your new crew
Find out more about the One Wild Ride Program here.
BONUS: Are you a courageously creative small biz joining the course? Any Finders Keepers community member that signs up, will have access to a complimentary blog feature on your business!