I started my business as a freelancer, working from my bedroom and stocking products in the guest room. Almost every entrepreneur I know started on their own, interacting directly with their clients as I did. When you go-it-alone as an entrepreneur, it’s just you handling everything from accounting to sales.
Working on your own definitely has its perks. I had no one to answer to but myself, controlled my own hours and had more freedom with my finances. However, working alone also means you’re limited when it comes to growth. Juggling so many roles at the same time means you may not have time to think about strategy or new streams of income.
When I first started my business journey, I spent so much time on administrative tasks that by the end of the day I had no energy to be creative. Slowly, I found myself dreading the business I was so excited about, which was a bad sign. It was then I realised that being a solopreneur, as liberating as it was, wasn’t going to serve me in the long run and I had to hire some help.
Growing from a solopreneur into an entrepreneur managing a team requires several changes: from the way you perceive work to new skill sets you need to acquire. Here are some steps to follow to make your journey smoother.
Evaluate your situation
When I was overwhelmed and realised it was time to hire help, I took a little break from work to evaluate my situation and assess what I needed to elevate it. I acknowledged my areas of weakness, strength, profitability and loss. I also examined myself as an entrepreneur, what kind of a leader I was and how I would lead my team when they joined the company. The team needed to complement my skills and strengthen my areas of weakness. That way, I would have room to focus on my skills and be more creative with my business.
This self-reflection exercise is important because entrepreneurs often become so passionate about their business that they don’t want to admit when they are stuck and need help, or that there are weaker areas of the business that need working on.
Hire the right team
As well as assessing your strengths and weaknesses, you then need to consider what tasks you want your new team to handle. When hiring, think about how each team member will help your business grow. Employees are valuable assets and could take your business far if they are equipped with the right skill set. This is why I constantly advise entrepreneurs to take their time when hiring. Just as you would tread carefully when entering a new investment, make sure each new hire is sound and that you will receive your money’s worth. Also, ensure any potential employees not only possess the right skills but also believe in your business and share your passion.
The biggest challenge I faced when growing my business was learning how to trust others with tasks. I was so used to doing things on my own that I didn’t think anyone would know how to get things done the way I did. Handing over tasks to my team, especially those that consumed most of my time and presented the biggest challenge, freed up my mind and gave me time to develop the business.
Expect failure along the way
Failure when you’re on your own is so much easier than when you have others involved. When managing a team, you have to keep morale high. Your employees will be looking to you for guidance, support and advice. As good as they may be, accept that they may fail at certain tasks. After all, they’re only human. Foster a learning culture, where employees can learn and grow from their mistakes.
Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati journalist and entrepreneur, who manages her marketing and communications company in Abu Dhabi