When I first started Simple Pin a few years ago, I had no idea whether the idea was viable or not. I began as a solopreneur and pretty quickly found myself managing six Pinterest accounts by myself. I talked a lot about how I grew this business from the ground up back in Episode 27, but I didn’t talk a lot about how I grew my team then.
Today I am going to talk about how to build a successful team. I’m telling my story about how I grew from just me managing those accounts to currently having 25 team members. People look shocked when I mention that I have that many team members because that seems like a management nightmare to them.
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How to Build a Successful Team
Why A Team?
First, let me start by saying that I am very good at outsourcing things, whether that’s cleaning my house or something else that I’m just not skilled at. If I know someone who is skilled at something that I need to have done, I will choose to hire it out if I can.
I spoke back in Episode 27 about the health crisis we were dealing with when I hired my first team member a little over three years ago. My daughter had been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, and I was trying to manage my business while doing all the things that have to be done as a parent of a newly diagnosed diabetic. I was running on fumes. So at that point, I hired a friend just in case another emergency should come up.
Our family has recently experienced a season of deep grief due to some circumstances that have been brought to bear on us. And again, I was able to step away for a full week, knowing that my team has me covered.
And that’s the number one reason for hiring a team for me personally …so that I can step back or even away for a little bit if I need to and know that my business is going to be fine.
Who Am I Looking For?
When I began to train my first team member, it looked like two people with laptops open and me speaking a foreign language to a person who had never even thought about what I was trying to explain to her. I knew then that I had to do something else. And so I made my first training module.
I had to train people on how to use Pinterest for business who had only used it for their own personal use. This didn’t require high levels of technical skill, but rather things like dependability, honesty, loyalty, self-direction and motivation, along with a desire to be excellent at whatever tasks I gave them.
The rest, I could teach them. But let’s talk about each of the required character traits for team membership:
- Dependable- ‘Nuff said, right? If a person isn’t dependable, how will I be able to hand off tasks to them and know that they will be completed?
- Self-motivated- This is not a job you do in an office where you have set hours and your boss is watching you. It is a “do it in your own home on your own time” kind of thing.
- Trustworthy– Obviously, because we deal with social media for clients, passwords and other personal information have to be shared. Not only that, but my own methods and business practices need to be protected. This means I need to know for sure that I can trust every member of my team. *This is also an important legal issue for my business; listen in on a refresher course on Pinterest and legal issues here
- Loyal– I am not interested in hiring someone who will be here today and gone tomorrow. That would be a huge waste of time and resources for me. I want team members who are invested in the vision I have for Simple Pin.
“Hire slow and fire fast”…that saying has helped me to know what to do when I can tell someone is not a good fit during the hiring or training process.
Training Team Members
I have moved on from that first training session in a grocery store with dueling laptops to a video based training system. I now use a program called Screencast-o-matic (which is only costs $15 per year!).
This tech tool enables me to record all of my video trainings and easily demonstrate how I use my programs. Being able to use these video recordings has completely revolutionized how I train team members. I actually record several videos per month to update my team on new Pinterest tools, update them on processes, or to communicate changes I make to any of our files.
Because I know that I am not good at communicating through the written word, I rely on video to help me train my team in a way that they can understand, without important pieces getting lost in translation.
Another platform that I use is called Teachable. I use Teachable not only for team trainings, and I used to use it to host courses. Teachable allows you to have both public and private courses, so I keep all of my team trainings in a private section there.
We also have a secret Facebook group so that my team can interact with each other on a personal and a business level. This allows them to share tips with each other, help each other with things, and just plain get to know one another better.
Why I Hire Local
I know that not everyone can or even should hire only local people, but it was very important to me to be able to meet with my team face-to-face. I wanted to follow the model set by my friend Angela of Frugal Living NW of loyalty, relationships, and the ability to work through things in a hands-on way.
As my team has grown, some have moved but we still find chances to talk and get to know each other through the Facebook group. As a group, we meet four times a year to discuss strategy and ask questions. The team shares so many tips with each other that make their work easier, and I am able to steer the team in the direction I see is going for the next four months, until we get together again.
To reiterate, I didn’t hire these women based on their technical skills. I hired them based on the character traits I already discussed above. I can teach them what they need to know to work for me, but I need them to be people of integrity if this is going to work for the long-term.
The Future of the Simple Pin Team
I get questions all the time about what Simple Pin’s future looks like; how many clients we hope to grow to, how many team members I will be hiring, etc. My initial goal for clients was 70 and we are currently at 75. Our year end goal is now to manage 100 client accounts. I don’t know what the future looks like for us, but I know that I want Simple Pin to continue to grow and to be the absolute best in the business world at what we do.
I want to share with you two books that have greatly impacted my vision for the company. I shared a little bit about the book The E-Myth Revisited in Episode 27. While it’s not the most captivating reading (and it doesn’t address online business specifically), it completely transformed my view of outsourcing. And I already told you I am a good outsourcer!
Future positions at Simple Pin may include Client Care Coordinator, Chief Strategist and Chief Coordinator of Fun. Chief Coordinator of Fun is currently my job and I love it! I get to set up parties for our team four times yearly and I have a great time doing that.
The second book that greatly impacted me is called Delivering Happiness by the CEO of Zappos, Tony Hsieh. As our client base grows, so does our need to knock their socks off. This is not something that I have always done well, but I am always trying to do a better job at being the most helpful, most resourceful, and most knowledgeable within the Pinterest space.
Building a team is about knowing the following-
- What your strengths are
- What your weaknesses are
- Learning through failure without humiliation (always ask questions, never make assumptions)
If you are a kind, honest, respectful, and gentle business owner, you will get more from your team than any other way; that’s how you build loyalty.
For more of my favorite book recommendations on business and building a team, find them on my Amazon shop page.
What About the Money?
Before I close this out, I want to quickly address another common question I get and that’s about the hiring budget. Only you can know what you can manage as far as hiring someone. You have to decide how much you can invest in your team. You will have to give up some of your profits. But I believe a team is worth every single penny you give up.
As my team grows and my profits increase, I can see the big number at the top and want it for myself. But the hard fact is that I could never have that number for myself because I didn’t build this business by myself and I can’t run it by myself.
If you are thinking of hiring a team of just one person to help you in your business, I hope some of these tips on how to build a successful team have helped you. If you have questions, please comment below. I would love to hear what has worked for you…or not worked for you.
2:05 Why a team?
5:25 Who am I looking for?
10:50 Training team members
13:50 Why I hire local
16:55 The future of the Simple Pin team
22:25 What about the money?
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