Tying together your business team…on a shoestring budget
Starting a business can feel like being an entire baseball team by yourself: while it’s possible to play all the positions, it’s not easy to do them all well, and it’s impossible to do them all at the same time. Yet that’s often what we’re trying to do, as we start new businesses without the benefit of a huge budget or staff. So it’s important in this process to do two things well: one, to accurately assess one’s strengths and two, to find creative ways to partner with those who have complementary gifts.
An Accurate Assessment
There are two kinds of people: those who are attracted to doing things they are not great at – they take these as challenges and places to improve themselves; and those who will only do what they do easily and well, ignoring the tasks they don’t. If you don’t know which you are, then ask someone you trust for an outside assessment.
Be aware that if you focus all your work energy on improving the things you’re not good at, you’ll end up burning up infinitely more energy in attempting to get your work off the ground. It is important to put yourself in the position of doing the things at which you excel, the things that light you up. That energy will help carry you through the difficult times.
If you tend to focus on things you do well, then you also need to make a plan to get the other tasks done.
Partnering with Others
Let’s assume that you don’t think you are in a position yet to hire the administrative, sales or production staff who would complement your talents. There are a number of creative ways to get what you need:
Look for someone to become a business partner, someone who can enter your business and take up a complementary role, sharing both responsibilities and benefits. If you want to focus on production, perhaps you can find someone who excels at business development to generate the flow of new clients for you.
Brainstorm about people in complementary but not directly competitive businesses. A local Chicago computer repair shop developed a relationship with the local computer sales store. The seller didn’t want to be bothered with repairs, and the repair shop didn’t want to carry inventory. They helped each other to build their businesses by referring to one another – while maintaining separate businesses.
Assess whether investing some money in getting an expert to do a task will free you to generate more revenue. A graphic designer hired an accounts receivable specialist to follow up on her past-due accounts, and her revenues skyrocketed as a result. A small investment produced a great pay-off – and didn’t cost her any time away from production.
Consult with people who don’t share your same gifts. If you’re detail-oriented, ask a big-picture thinker you trust for advice. If you’re an unflappable optimist, look for someone who can shoot holes in your theories. In the end, these sometimes abrasive partnerships can save your business by giving you the perspective to see problems before they happen.
How’s your team?
Michael Shapiro, Dynamic Management Solutions, Inc.