- In 2020 and 2021, nearly 10 million new-business applications were filed in the US.
- Many of those entrepreneurs are looking to scale their businesses by hiring.
- Three entrepreneurs identified steps for finding and building a sustainable team as a solopreneur.
- This article is part of Talent Insider, a series containing expert advice to help small business owners tackle a range of hiring challenges.
In 2020 and 2021, Americans filed nearly 10 million new-business applications as they searched for hobbies, ancillary income, or new jobs after pandemic-related layoffs.
Today, many of those entrepreneurs are looking to scale their businesses by hiring. But establishing sustainable growth with new team members amid high inflation and layoffs at notable companies requires strategic planning, said Max Mirho, a content creator and solopreneur.
For example, Mirho said he prefers to hire contract employees instead of full-time staff members for his business, Make with Max, because they can be less costly but just as effective.
Krishna Pendyala, who founded the audio-visual company Visual Symphony and Mindful Nation Foundation, a networking and community-growth organization, said that especially with today’s technologies and platforms such as the freelancer sites Fiverr and Upwork, there is a breadth of help available.
Mirho, Pendyala, and David Finkel, an author and entrepreneur, shared three key steps to finding, building, and managing a sustainable team as a solopreneur.
Identify the right type of hire
Before posting any open jobs or recruiting, a founder should identify the exact role they need, based on the specific tasks to be completed — like working on marketing initiatives or dealing with an influx of customer-service requests — and the time required of the future employee.
“It’s hard to manage somebody when I haven’t clearly defined what they are supposed to do and how they’re going to be measured,” said Finkel, who founded the business coaching company Maui Mastermind.
Pendyala said that based on those answers, founders should ask themselves whether they want a collaborator, who has specific skills they lack, or an assistant, who can complete tasks without making any high-level decisions.
Give up some control
Many founders struggle to relinquish control, Finkel said. “It comes from having had experiences where they’ve let go and they’ve gotten burned,” he added.
A hesitancy to let go often turns into micromanagement — but if a founder wants to progress, it’s crucial to unlearn those fears, he said.
“Control doesn’t mean of the company — it can mean control of a process, an area of the business,” Finkel said.
Pendyala said that often when a founder is hesitant to give their employees freedom, “they only delegate tasks, they don’t delegate authority.” But he added that because that approach can stifle growth beyond a certain point, he suggests founders bring on a chief of staff, a partner, or a CEO as the first high-level hire.
Finkel and Pendyala argued that until a founder starts trusting others, they will be limited in their ability to grow and evolve.
Set the stage for a good manager-employee relationship
Taking the time to define the role and identify the right person can help ensure that the experience of managing them is as smooth as possible.
Finkel suggested creating a list of skills, experiences, or personality traits you’d like to see in a new hire, then narrowing that down to three to five non-negotiable qualities.
“By taking half an hour to think through this more clearly, before even going to interview, that helps not just to hire a better person, but it makes the initial part of managing that person easier,” he said.
Mirho suggested looking within your personal network for candidates who match your ideal description. His first contract worker was a friend who he knew would produce quality work. But he said hires can come from all corners of your network.
“If you don’t have a personal network, you can grow one easily by going to local events, emailing local business owners to see their perspective on the local scene, hosting your own events, or creating content on the internet,” Mirho said.