I’ll forgive you if you’re thinking “I’m a sole trader, I don’t have a team.” Same here, but read on anyway because when you really need a team it’ll be because you’re stupidly busy and you won’t have time to read this then.
You may also be thinking that your team is just you and one or two other people. Even if this is the case, you still need to look after them.
If your business is even bigger than that, you definitely need to read on.
Building your team
Even if you don’t think that you’re part of a team yet, you may already have met the people you’re going to work with. Traditional recruitment aside, the people that you collaborate with and seek help from are likely to be the ones you meet via some form of networking, whether that’s online or in person. I don’t need a VA yet but I’ve already met the person I want to work with when I do. I met my graphic designer when she was about five, running around an employee barbecue where her dad worked with my husband. OK, I know that’s one’s slightly left field.
The point is that relationship building can begin before you work with someone. You get to know and trust each other by talking about your experiences or sharing information and support in a Facebook group. If you’re using networking just to generate business for yourself, think again. You could be finding the person who can jump in and help you build your business just when you need it most.
Whether you’re in an employer/employee relationship or that of two freelancers working together, a good relationship starts with information sharing. That can be as basic as knowing when they’re available to work or telling them your process for paying their invoices. Getting the groundwork in place means that you can be confident you’ve got a good system when it comes to more complex systems.
This can also give you peace of mind when it comes to customer service. Keeping your existing customers happy can be a key element of a non-spammy marketing strategy. If you’d like to find out more about that I’ve produced a handy guide on the subject which you can sign up for here.
In a larger organisation this is absolutely essential. When I was a solicitor we had a central database where you could find all manner of independent experts. I defended personal injury claims so you would sometimes need a medical expert, an engineer or a forensic accountant. The database was the first port of call; that way you avoided annoying several hundred people by sending an all users’ email asking for what was essentially basic information.
You can use this sort of system whatever the size of your business. Having a central source of information means that your colleagues can find things out on their own. That way they only have to come to you with a genuine query and it saves you both time.
Let’s face it, being part of a team means getting to know people. Some people are better at this than others. I used to have a colleague who wanted to be friends with everyone in the office. She was, generally, very successful on this front and would regularly socialise after work. By contrast, I would rather have hidden under a large rock. That’s where team building comes in. Not everyone will want to organise a boozy night out after work but they might be open to going out for lunch.
You could also arrange a change of scenery for the day. That doesn’t have to be the sort of day where you all go and play paintball if the idea makes you cringe. It could be a conference where you invite expert speakers or ask other team members to talk about their area of expertise. Build in some coffee breaks and a good lunch and everyone’s happy.
How’s your team building? Let me know in the comments.
Some ideas for fun team building activities from Hubspot