How to hire, build and manage your first team as a creator
Know the difference between hiring an employee or a tool. And when to hire for each.
Up until now, you've been more of a one-man-army, doing everything by yourself - research, produce content, sales, community engagement, marketing and bringing in the money. Phew! It's time to grow.
The growth of the creator economy won't stop anytime soon. And as seen in the latest insight by LinkedIn on creators’ jobs; “The creator economy is exploding now,” Pepsi’s chief marketing officer, Todd Kaplan, declared last month during a Cannes panel discussion covered by Adweek. “Culture is having a special moment right now, where things are coming from the ground up. As a brand, you have to pay attention.”
Growth means that, as a creator, you now have more work than you can deliver on. You've moved from the hobbyist to a business. Now that you're enjoying the growth, let's talk hiring - moving from passion to business. 😊
What does growth look like?
It means you've found product-market-fit; you've found people that really need your product and are paying for it - customers.
It means you can no longer keep the work balance. Before your day is planned out and no chaos. Now, every day seems like more chaos.
You have a monthly revenue - recurring or non-recurring. That is, your customers are either paying subscriptions monthly or steady business per month.
Across experience levels, creators’ biggest challenge is growing an audience (32.9%), followed by finding enough time for everything (21.6%) and knowing how to monetize (14.4%). - Podia
Hiring is one of the most important things you'll do as a creator. And probably the hardest. It's not just about finding the right people—it's more about setting up an efficient, effective process that helps you scale your business at a rate you can handle.
The reality is when it's time to hire, you will know. Hiring a team has always been a stressful and time-consuming process. It's not uncommon to spend days, weeks, or even months looking for the right people to hire.
Like every other aspect of building a business, hiring is a skill that you can learn. Hiring your first employee as a creator comes with its own fears too.
Take that first leap and get the help you need to accomplish your business goals faster.
Tips: As a general rule, you can confidently hire someone when you understand what they’ll do, why that work is essential to business goals, and how much you’ll pay them.
The difficult part is finding the right people to work with to help you meet up on your business goals. If you're yet to set a business goal, read "how to gain a better market share" to get started.
Transitioning from $1k to $100k business.
Up until now, you've probably used the services of friends and relatives at no or little extra cost. That means you pay what you like and they're happy with it. Now, the tide has changed. You've gotten to the place where unstructured operations won't work anymore. What brought you here is not well designed to take you to the next phase of your business. That is to say, what brought you $1k is not enough to bring you $100k. It requires you to operate with intentionality and with scale in mind.
When it comes to hiring, there's a lot of confusion out there. When is the right time? What role should you hire for, first? How do you know who will be a good fit? What kind of background do they need? What kind of personality should they have? Where do I find these people? What are your values? Should you just settle for an employee or just use a tool?
Tip: Know the difference between hiring an employee or a tool. And when to hire for each
When is the right time to hire?
There's no silver bullet to actually knowing when to hire. It is different for everyone. But, there are a few questions you should ask yourself and answer to know if your business is ready for it. Ready could mean many things also.
What recurring monthly budget can I spend on a new hire? And do I have the money available now? You should have up to six months available to make the jump.
How much time can I commit to managing people? It takes an average of three months for a new employee to fully get a grasp of your business. They require hands-on management to ensure their work is aligned with your business.
Have an important date? For a product launch with a date on your roadmap, a timely hire could make it much less stressful.
Too much to do with less time? If this is your case, first ensure you're working on the right things. If this doesn't help, then maybe you need help. But, define the help - freelancer, tools or an employee.
What role should you hire first?
To know what role to hire for should be beyond emotion and passion. For instance, because you enjoy writing doesn't automatically mean you should hire a marketing guy. Far from it.
Take a bigger picture of your business. What milestone - short-term and long-term, if reached, will make so much sense? What's keeping you from achieving the milestone?
In most cases, your first hires will be any of these roles:
Customer service/support/success: responding to emails, phone calls and direct messages.
Creative: research, writing, content production, design and editing.
Administrative: personal assistant, meeting scheduling, accounting, billing, taxes and organizing calendars.
Technical: website, integrations, fixing issues, customizations.
Marketing: design, social media, distribution, communicating with an audience, planning launch and lead generation.
Other: As you go on, you'll find roles unique to your customers and business.
How much work will the hire get done?
In the next phase after you’ve defined the tasks and that a person is needed to do them, the next question is in what capacity should they function in the business. An employee falls somewhere within:
Full-time employee with benefits
Full-time without benefits
Part-time contractor or freelancer (with recurring tasks and payment)
One-time or project-based freelancer
Follow this step to help with a clear perspective on hiring:
Set a milestone - short and long term
List the things stopping or will stop you from getting there
What are the things you need to do
What are the things, if freed up, that can enable you to maximize your time to bring you closer to achieving your milestone
What skills are needed
Who has those or that skill(s)
Hire that person.
It's definitely not as simple as listed above but it gives a better perspective to ensure that after hiring for a role, you've enough bandwidth to move to the next step.
You also need to know what's "important/urgent". Study the diagram below to see how the "important/urgent" quadrant framework - “Eisenhower matrix”.
Download the Important-Urgent Quadrant here.
So, what activity in your business is:
Important and urgent: hire a team to get this done.
Important but not urgent: involves more strategy, this is your place.
Not important but urgent: delegate this role. You should think of using an agency, freelancer or contractor to get this done.
Not important and not urgent: Eliminate.
Read more about Eisenhower's Quadrant.
The quadrant immediately lets you see where to allocate resources. It enables you to think about your priorities and determine what's important, essentially or a distraction. It enables you to be effective and efficient.
Tips: Focus on what's "Important but Not Urgent".
Team Management: ensuring your team is effective.
As a creator, building a team will always be a challenge. You need to find someone who can work with you and your vision, and do it quickly.
The best way to build an effective team is to understand your values. It's important to understand why you're building the business and what kind of person you will hire. If you're like most people, that's where "the team" comes in. But teams are hard to build, and they're hard to manage. How can you ensure that your team is an effective one?
You've hired someone and the person seems solid. But how do you build and manage a great team? You need to be able to manage the team to grow and deliver on the business goal.
Some help to manage your team.
As a creator, hire people passionate about what you do. And excited about the opportunities it presents.
Hire people willing to take risks, make mistakes, learn from them, and keep trying until they get it right.
Hire people who will help you build something great—that is worth something—and have a vested interest in seeing it succeed.
The team is the most important part of a business. It is essential to hire a team with the skills - knowledge, training and grit, needed to deliver your business goal.
How to start hiring:
There are many ways to find talent, including:
Hiring from your network
Posting an open position on sites like LinkedIn, Braintrust or Glassdoor
Searching for talent through community sites like Discord, Reddit, Houzz
Using a service like Upwork, Fiverr, Layer3,
An effective way to build and manage a team is to start knowing your values and business goals. This will help you identify the skills you need in order to achieve those goals, and from there you can choose a path forward based on your needs.
PS: Read “What is web3? The Creators Way”.
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