My business is growing and it’s exciting. October last year I started getting staff on board. I had too much work to do by myself, but quickly discovered that building a team was not as simple as hiring more people. My thoughts and planning around it were limited. I had a well-established vision, but little-defined processes.
Firstly, what roles would they be doing? Then what type of employment would they be established in? I considered the pros and cons of contractors versus employees. If I took on employees, would they be casual, part-time or full-time? I spoke with my accountant, bookkeeper and HR consultant. They all gave great advice, but at the end of the day, as the business owner it was my decision. I applied what I knew, went through all the steps to cover my bases, yet I still failed. Why?
My business had been growing substantially for two years, but the transition from owner to employer was a completely new experience. I decided to hire three contractors to assist with administrative tasks. For all intents and purposes I considered them family. I poured my heart out to them with the hope they would take on my dream as their own.
The reality is that one lasted six weeks. You heard me – just weeks. The next? Three months. And the third? Well fortunately, she’s still with me. Thankfully I didn’t rush to replace the two that departed, I needed to learn from the experience and take stock. It was not easy, failing wasn’t fun, but what I learnt was critical for success and fundamentally helped me scale my business.
What I learnt was:
- Much the same as a motherhood, no one knows what it was like to give birth to your child and no one will love your child like you do.
- My communication needs to be crystal clear. If I’m not clear on what I would like done, no one else will be.
- Many admin tasks can be automated. To scale my business, I need to be replaceable.
- Not every staff member needs to be in the office.
So fast forward to July 2017. I have hired another two contractors. These two are remote and have demonstrated skill sets in defined gaps that need filling. In addition, I have now hired my first employee to be on-site at our Campbelltown offices. What’s different? My mindset. In January this year I took time out of my day-to-day work activities to evaluate my business direction, business longevity and the goals I wanted to achieve personally, physically and professionally.
Firstly, in October last year I was afraid to share my IP. This March I attended Social Media Marketing World in San Diego. There I was surrounded by 3,500 of my industry peers and was able to connect with globally recognised thought leaders. Their openness to share their IP was striking. The reality hit me that we as a society have hit information saturation. We can Google virtually anything and get the answer. The real value of a service-based business like mine is not the information itself, but my unique time given, and the ability to provide tools that foster efficient processes. I can equip people with the strategies and tactics to quicken their digital marketing implementation, so that they can get on in providing their own business specialty.
Secondly, I have applied the concept of iteration to all tasks that I do. My inner perfectionist was causing me to hold on far too much. In the digital space where things move at warp speed, this was causing me to fall consistently behind. Now I get more things done, and realise done is better than perfect. Once published, the beauty of digital is that I can iterate (small changes add up to big things). I’ve applied this approach successfully to all aspects of the business and starting it from scratch with no budget.
Thirdly – and this is important – I have applied the RACI principle to my communication. RACI means that not everyone needs to know everything or, for that matter, act on everything. RACI stands for Responsible, Accountable, Consulted and Informed. This process works quite closely with Do, Delegate, Delete aka #DDD. The RACI principle can be applied to any project or task required to be done.
A great example of this principle applied is organising my son’s birthday cake. His birthday is next month (a set deadline) and I’m nominated as responsible for the task. It is then up to me to communicate with all parties (no pun intended) within the RACI model. What’s important to note is that not everyone needs to be communicated with at all stages. They are only communicated with at the key milestones they are involved in.
|Responsible||Me (Mum)||I’m responsible for the delivery of the task and communication with all on the progress of the cake.|
|Accountable||My husband and I (Mum and Dad)||We will be in trouble if we don’t organise the cake! We finance the cake either being created by someone else or for us to create it.|
|Consulted||My son||E.g. I need to ask him what cake does he wants.|
|E.g. I need to confirm with him the cake is organised.|
So whether it’s team communication in your business or planning social and family events, these communication strategies are essential for both process efficiency and project success. Time is your most valuable resource. Share your vision, but also be clear about the practical steps that if followed will help your team achieve that vision. I turned failure into an opportunity to reflect, learn and grow. It’s helped me more clearly define my goals, crystallise my processes and helped me scale my business. What success will your failures lead to?