The Startup’s Guide to Building a Team

By Lawton Ursrey

If you want to grow your small business, at some point you need to delegate to other people. The problem is that when you don’t need help, you’re not looking for it. And when you do, you need it yesterday and you don’t have time to find the very best people for the job.

In order to stay lean, but prep for future growth, you need to have go-to people at your fingertips when you need them. They’re your personal team of specialists that you’ll use when you’re ready to grow—and on an as-needed basis for those big projects that require additional resources.

Instead of hiring someone full time and raising your expenses before you need to, there’s another option. It’s called micro-outsourcing.

The Benefits of Micro-outsourcing

Typically, whether you hire a full-time employee or outsource to an external resource, you look for someone to help you long-term with a specific function in your business. For example, if you go the traditional route, you would hire a web designer as a contractor to create your new website. This can cost time and money that you don’t have as a start up. With micro-outsourcing, you accomplish similar results by finding a template and outsourcing logo design or updates to a freelancer.

Micro-outsourcing lets you focus on one task in the mountain of things that you have to do; you can get the work done without increasing your expenses. It’s a little like speed dating. You don’t have to commit long term. Assign a small task to a candidate to see if they are a good fit. If they are, they make it on to your list for your future needs. If not, it’s okay because you don’t have a lot invested.

You can run lean and mean—and under budget—while you develop a list of specialists to help you out.

Focus On Your Business Needs

Who should you have on your team of specialists, that magic list of go-to experts? It will depend on your business. Start by focusing on tasks outside your area of expertise. If you’re not a designer, and you know you’re going to need graphic design work done—either for your own business or for a client—be sure you put that expert on your list.

Specialists you should consider are:

  • Graphic designers
  • Web designers
  • Copywriters
  • Bookkeepers
  • Coaches
  • Project managers
  • Virtual assistants
  • Data entry specialists

All of these roles are essential for your startup’s success—just not all at the same time when your small business is new. Since you’re micro-outsourcing, you won’t have to worry about hiring them full time. You just need to find them, reach out and get a few items off of your to-do list.

How to Find Your Team of Specialists

Once you’ve picked out two to three tasks to micro-outsource, start asking for help within your current network. LinkedIn is a great place to start. You can quickly see skills and experience at a glance. You can also network with other startup owners who are in the same boat and pick up some solid referrals.

Take a look at outsourcing sites. They put you in touch with thousands of skilled freelancers to work with. Thanks to the bidding systems on these sites, providers compete for your work. This can save you even more on your bottom line costs.

These sites have thousands of specialists ready to handle your micro-outsourcing projects:

Most sites give their workers a code name or a number so that you can’t contact them outside of the system, but you can add people to your list or team within the system so you can hire them again and again.

Grow the Freelance Relationships

The best part about micro-outsourcing is that it sets you up to have an awesome full-time team when you’re ready to take that next step. Working with specialists on a short project gives you the chance to test out their skills, get a feel for the way they work, and grow your relationships.

Since you’re in business for yourself, you don’t have to take on a team member that isn’t a good fit. You can “try before you buy.” Test out whether the specialist is the kind of person who thrives in a remote environment. It’s not something everyone is cut out to do, and chances are the people you find don’t in your neighborhood—or state.

You also have the opportunity to see if the team members fit the culture you are establishing for your startup. Do they share the same values and approach to work? Can you see yourself working with them long term? Once you find someone you like, grow the relationship with additional small projects.

As you micro-outsource, you’ll be able to:

  • Work out specific processes to use with each specialist
  • Learn turnaround times for different types of projects
  • Figure out what communication style works best for you both

In turn, they’ll learn more about your business, the way you work, and what you’re looking for in a specialist. You’ll be able to hit the ground running together when your needs—and your budget—increase.

You don’t have the cash flow for a full-time team, but with micro-outsourcing you can still get the help you need without stretching your budget. You’ll be able to grow a personal team of specialists that can you can hire full time in the future.  And you’ll be able to cut down your to-do list and get things done.

Lawton Ursrey is the CEO and founder of Indie Peace, an eco-friendly apparel company and the product marketing manager for Sage One, an online accounting application for small businesses.

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Small Business Computing Staff
Small Business Computing Staff
Small Business Computing addresses the technology needs of small businesses, which are defined as businesses with fewer than 500 employees and/or less than $7 million in annual sales.

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