How I Transitioned From a Solo Entrepreneur to a Team Leader

I started my freelance editing career at the age of 17 on my first platform. From my senior year in high school to most of my graduate school, I enjoyed various editing and copywriting jobs on these platforms. However, I dreamed of being an entrepreneur. As a solo entrepreneur, I started a digital marketing company and now have a team. It was not an easy transition from solo entrepreneur into a team leader. However, I love working with a group of people. You will have a well-balanced, talented team and a support system that can share the emotional load of managing a business.

When to build a team

Entrepreneurs love to think they can do all of the work. However, this can cause problems for our business ventures. One person can only do so much work without threatening their physical and mental health, work-life balance and overall quality of the completed work. As my digital-marketing company’s clientele increased, I was doing the work of five people while constantly teaching myself new skills. I realized that I needed a team to maintain my clients when they requested work outside my expertise.

As clients kept asking for more services, I continued to employ other experts. To meet the needs of many clients, I hired a talented graphic designer and video scriptwriter. We would get more clients who needed similar services to those of our previous clients. Thus, clients’ needs guided my hiring strategy, especially to determine when to expand our services and what type of freelancers I needed to focus on hiring.

Related: Hiring a Freelancer? Here’s what you need to know

Enhance your team

It can be difficult to hire staff. My first few freelancers were hired and I quickly realized that many applicants sound great on their resumes and in interviews, but are not the right fit for the company. Interviews may not accurately portray a potential hire as they may be nervous or introverted during interviews. I realized that interview results were not the only factor in my hiring decision. Instead, I included a paid assignment. I evaluate their work and interview to determine if they are a permanent addition or not.

Another unique way I hire is to hire three people simultaneously. This was a method that a former boss taught me, and it has proven to be incredibly beneficial for my company. After three people have completed their test assignment, you rank them in order of their work. Usually, I would have three articles that were either mediocre, okay or exemplary. I hired the candidate who provided me outstanding work. The candidate who provided me mediocre work was not given any further work. I retained the candidate who did average work on my list of potential future hires.

Remote team management

Between my digital-marketing company, and my publishing company, I currently manage 28 team members. Both companies are remote and have team members based mostly on the East Coast, with others in countries on other continents. We use project-management software and team-communication platforms, such as Twist, Asana and Trello, for organizational purposes. We also conduct monthly team meetings, and hold team bonding or icebreaker activities.

I learned there is a fine line between micromanaging and being too relaxed as a boss. I learned patience in allowing my team move at its own pace, while still setting reasonable deadlines for projects. Our copywriters are given two business days to complete articles. We also have mid-month deadlines for social media editorial calendars. I check in daily with different team members to see how they are doing and answer any questions.

Every manager and leader should show their appreciation to their team. Those working with you have a passion for what they do, and they do exemplary work on your company’s behalf. Remind them why they are appreciated for their contributions and thank them for their hard work. Recognize them for going above and beyond in their work. Recognize them for their achievements, business or personal. I sent each member my team a package designed to promote relaxation and self-care during the 2020 Holiday Season.

Related: 7 Mistakes Leaders Make When Managing a Remote Team

Manage team turnover

Every business has team turnover. Some team members will reduce their availability because of things like their family schedule, health reasons or schooling. It is normal for a few team members to leave.

I recommend that business owners investigate why team members leave. You may discover a problem at your company. Although team members might leave due to something they cannot control, there are things you can do to make them stay. If you have several team members who leave citing your micromanagement or hostility toward other members as the reason, you can fix those. Entrepreneurs cannot solve a problem they do not know how to fix.

Resources for uncertain entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs may not be able to recognize when they need to make a transition, or lack the confidence. That’s where career coaches or business consultants come in. These professionals can help guide you through your entrepreneurial journey and help you run your business more efficiently.

When I first started my business, I contacted the SBA about consulting with a business mentor. They put me in touch with the Women’s Center for Entrepreneurship. After being mentored successfully, I was invited to become a mentor by the organization. Over the past year, I have mentored or provided consulting to over a dozen new entrepreneurs and taught workshops for nearly 100. These programs are amazing because they allow more experienced entrepreneurs to connect with newer entrepreneurs. I am proud to be both a mentor as well as a mentee.

Even successful entrepreneurs can benefit from consultations or learning from other entrepreneurs’ successes and failures. Harvard’s Luca Leonte is a big believer in agile transformation as discussed on Yahoo Finance. I have recently adopted some of his strategies, including webinars for client retention. This has helped me to be more confident in adapting and changing my initial business goals. Over the past year, these strategies to grow, change and adapt, have been especially helpful.

My business was made possible by the support of talented and passionate freelancers. Entrepreneurs don’t have the ability to run their businesses alone. There is no shame in asking for help. Although it may seem daunting to start a team and take some time to get used, you’ll be amazed at how easy and wonderful it is to work with them, provided you select the right people. I am forever grateful to those freelancers that decided my digital marketing company was right for them, and for all of the amazing work we have accomplished together.

Related: The 5 Best Digital-Marketing Strategies to Empower Your Business