One of the biggest lessons I learned with my business is that in order to grow you need to outsource. This has looked differently year over year as needs have changed in my business and my personal life. However, one thing that has remained consistent is hiring the right people at the right time. I have been blessed that each team member I have today has worked with me for a minimum of two years and knows my business and clients almost as well as I do. I have leaned into my zone of genius while trusting that they’re leaning into their zone of genius. This is one of the keys to building a successful creative team.
Rule #1 – Outsource tasks that you’re not the best at, and focus on your strengths.
When you’re building a team for your business, it’s important to hire for gaps in your own skillset. The tasks you procrastinate on and never finish, the ones that take you hours but should probably only take 20 minutes. Make a list of all of these tasks and see if there are any common denominators. If they’re marketing-related see about hiring a marketing assistant. Admin-related? Explore the option of hiring a virtual assistant. If these tasks are personal, then explore the possibility of hiring a cleaning service or lawn care provider.
With these tasks, you gain not only the time it took to complete them but also reward yourself with a portion of your mental load taken care of. Oftentimes we think ‘It only takes me 15-minutes to answer this email or do this task.’ A factor to consider is the time it takes you to switch from one task to another. It is not just about the task itself but also about how it affects you, mentally.
Rule #2 – A Successful Creative Team is an Aligned One
When hiring, it is important to consider the alignment of mission, vision, and values between the company and potential new hires. Hire team members that are in alignment with your business. If you feel very strongly about punctuality and a potential hire’s idea of “on-time” means arriving at the same time as your client, that could create problems. If communication is a priority and your potential hire only checks their email once a week then that is going to be an issue.
Writing down what’s important to you makes it easier to hire people who share your values. This is such an important part of the process but is often skipped over. Instead, we whip together a quick “ISO” post on Facebook, hire the first person who says they can help, and then wonder why things aren’t clicking. When you are able to clearly articulate what is most important to you, your team will be better equipped to help you achieve your goals.
Rule #3 – Be Specific
This leads me to my next point. When hiring a team member, provide that person with as much detail and guidance as possible. You cannot, I repeat cannot, hire someone for a task, pass it off, and then expect success. This just isn’t feasible and leads to frustration for both parties. During the interview process, it’s important to be clear about the responsibilities of the position you are hiring for. If you’re looking for a marketing assistant then list out the skills they’ll need. Are you looking for someone to create behind-the-scenes videos of your process? Will they need to know how to edit the footage? If so, what software will you be using? If you’re hiring a professional, then less hand-holding will likely be needed once they’ve learned your editing style and voice. Hiring an amateur? Then expect to spend more time training them to do the job the way you want it done.
The more specific you are in the hiring process, the better qualified your applicants will be. Some questions to consider:
Hiring an admin position:
- How long have you been in customer service?
- How would you respond to the following email? (Link an email for them)
- How would you handle a client issue if I’m out of the office or unavailable?
- When you have too many tasks to complete, how do you handle it?
Hiring for a creative team member, marketing, associate photographer, content creator, etc:
- What is one trend you’ve seen in marketing this year that you like? What’s one that you don’t?
- My target audience is X – what platform would you recommend I focus my marketing efforts on?
- You realize that a client is uncomfortable during a session, how do you approach that situation?
- Here are 3 images from a recent photoshoot, what is a caption you would write for my audience?
With these kinds of questions, you’re receiving feedback on how they would handle your business. This will give you insight into their skill level as well as their ability to harness your voice.
Rule #4 – Give Feedback
Feedback is essential to keeping your team members on track. If you see something that needs improvement, take the time to explain how they can make the change. I’ve seen many business owners hesitate to give their team members constructive criticism because they are afraid of the person’s reaction.
In order to be a strong leader, you need to do just that – lead. This can be uncomfortable at first. You’re used to being a solopreneur. However, now that you’ve hired someone it’s time to delegate and empower them to do their job well. This means letting them know how they can improve but also when they do the job well. If you love a certain response to an email, let them know and tell them to save it for next time. Love a blog they wrote? Tell them! Want them to rework your caption to better fit your voice? Let them know. The more you communicate what is working and what isn’t, the better your working relationship will be.
Building a Successful Creative Team
Building a successful creative team is a process that requires time, patience, and a lot of effort. If you adhere to these rules, however, you will be well on your way to building your dream team. Now you’re off! To delegate or outsource your tasks, write down a list of the top five things you want to get accomplished. Then decide which one will be the focus of your search in finding the best team member. Once you have written down what you want in a team member, be as specific as possible when interviewing. Once you have hired someone, give them feedback and train them so they can meet your expectations. The more effectively you lead, the better your team will perform.