When I started my business as a “solopreneur”, I had to perform all of the functions myself.
There was a lot I had to figure out on my own and running my business alone quickly became difficult. I would have loved to have someone to take many of the administrative tasks off my hands. It would have freed up my time for more income-producing activities.
Instead, I had to navigate the business alone until I got to a point where I could hire an assistant on a part-time basis. That is where my appreciation for teamwork was sparked. There is no way that a business can grow without the help of a team. Starting a business off as a “solopreneur” may be the easiest and most cost-effective way to start. However, if you want to grow your business, you need to grow your team.
Dr. Nancy Langton, a professor at the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business, defines a team as “a small number of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals, and approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable.”
A strong team makes managing the challenges of business easier. Leveraging the strengths of others to handle other tasks while you handle what you do best is a great way to gain an advantage without having to shoulder all the work yourself. Additionally, a good team brings different concepts and approaches to the table that can provide new and fresh perspective on old problems. Varying educational and cultural backgrounds also lead to different ways of tackling complex issues.
Finding people to lean on during difficult business cycles can be a time-consuming challenge, especially if you are running a business by yourself. However, the time you spend finding the right candidates will save you later when you have a system in place and numerous projects on the go. They will offer essential support and solutions that can alleviate your stress make managing your business easier.
If you’re ready to start building a team, you’ll want to choose a team that suits you and your business’ needs. Consider these options:
A problem-solving team is usually made up of 5 to 12 employees from the same department who meet for a few hours each week to discuss ways of improving quality, efficiency, and the work environment. This type of team is usually found in larger organizations as they have the resources to afford the dedication required to form such a team. During meetings, members share ideas or offer suggestions on how to improve work processes and methods.
A self-managed team is typically made up of 10 to 15 employees. The employees perform highly related or interdependent jobs and take on many of the responsibilities of their managers. In an entrepreneurial setting, this is one of the best options. Not having to micro-manage someone is key to building the trust in the team dynamic. Each member is responsible for a certain job and it is known that it will be done. Typically, this type of team's work includes planning and scheduling of work, assigning tasks to members, making operating decisions, acting on problems, and working with suppliers and customers.
Cross-functional teams are made up of employees from around the same hierarchical level but different work areas, who come together to accomplish a task. This is another example of a team structure that works best in a larger organization. Cross-functional teams are an effective means for allowing people from diverse areas within an organization to exchange information, develop new ideas, solve problems, and coordinate on complex issues.
Problem-solving, self-managed, and cross-functional teams do their work face-to-face. Virtual teams use computer technology to tie together physically dispersed members in order to achieve a common goal. This is a great option to use for a small business owner. It allows you to utilize the knowledge of another person on a project-by-project basis without having to commit long-term. Many online organizations cater to this market and have a business model that can work for you. With this team structure, team members collaborate online--using communication links such as wide-area networks, video conferencing, instant messaging, and email--whether they are only a room away or continents apart.
These types of teams are collections of two or more interdependent teams that share a superordinate goal. Corporations utilize this type of team structure for large projects that require specialized knowledge and many people to handle the logistics. This is something that can be aspired to in a growth strategy once a small business grows to a multi-million dollar organization with many moving parts.
I personally use virtual teams in my business model. It is the best system for what I do and allows me to utilize the perspectives from people around the world. High-performing teams hold themselves accountable at both the individual and team levels. They also have a high level of mutual respect/trust and solid working relationships. The times have changed and we no longer are required to work with people in our geographical location. The internet has made communicating around the globe seamless and working together is even easier than before.