I started this series on the S’s in Success three weeks ago. The first “S” was for Self and the second was for Systems. The last “S” I call Support. You can’t build a successful business without support.
At some point in the growth of your business, you realize that you need help, that you need to create a team. In my case with the International Association of Professional Quilters, I have an amazing team that supports our growth. I cannot operate this business without this team, and I am grateful every day for them. They include our regular columnists and writers, our art director, our advertising representative, our copy editors, our virtual assistant, our web developers, our printer and mailing house, and more.
When I first started publishing The Professional Quilter, I did much of the work myself. As the business grew, I saw the need to create a team. It had several positive results. It let me concentrate in the areas where I’m really good, and it let me spend time on building the business. It also let me support others who want to work in their areas of brilliance. That left me with more energy for my work. It was really win-win for everyone.
I’m sure many of you are in the same position. When you started your business, you tried to do everything yourself. At the time, it seemed like the most cost effective way to go. At some point, though, you realize that it’s time to bring others on board. I know that it’s often a cost issue. How can you afford someone to help you? If you really look at how much it costs to hire someone for a task, you’ll realize that you can make more per hour working on what you do well than you pay the person you hire. Here are team members you might consider:
- A bookkeeper. Many creative people are not “numbers oriented.” Of course, it’s critical that we know how much money is coming into our business and how much is going out. We don’t need to do the daily number inputting. A bookkeeper will, in many cases, work much faster than you can. For many solopreneurs, this is the first person they hire.
- A child care provider. On a more basic level, if you can pay someone to care for your children during the day or after school, you’ll be freer to create your product or market your business.
- An in-office helper. Quilters have lots of fabric and it gets in disarray. Sometime ago, one of our members asked about staying organized. I suggested that she hire a high school girl to come in once or twice a week and help put fabric away and keep her studio organized. Traveling teachers can also use an in-house helper to create the handout packets or pack the supplies for classes.
- An apprentice. This is a great idea for someone who dyes fabric or makes quilts for craft shows. You can have someone complete some of the preliminary parts of the job or work under your direction. A longarm quilter could hire someone to load the quilt or handle pantographs.
- Pattern testers, stitchers. Your task as a designer is to create designs and market them. If you have people who can test your patterns and stitch and quilt your quilts, you can spend more time creating.
- A virtual assistant. I have used a virtual assistant for three years now. A virtual assistant is your administrative partner. She runs her own business and usually works from her own home. I’ve never met any of my virtual assistants in person, yet I feel confident that they can complete the tasks I have for them. Your virtual assistant will be skilled to handle lots of administrative, marketing or technology tasks. A virtual assistant would be perfect for handling some of the social media tasks or keeping track of your teaching assignments.
I think it’s sometimes hard to take the step to hire the first team member. Once you do take that step, it becomes easier to look for tasks that someone else can complete so you can get your work accomplished. I’ve found over the years that my virtual assistant has helped me look for work she can do, and it’s had a positive impact on my business.
Finding team members can also be a challenge. I think we’re lucky in that as quilters we have a network of other quilters who want to help us. When I looked for help, I advertised in my guild newsletter and found great additions to my team. I’ve also used referrals from friends. Other options include looking for someone in your neighborhood, your local high school or college, your church, the local senior center, even Craig’s List. People with the skills you need are looking for work.
What kinds of support do you have in your business? Where did you find this support? Are there tasks that you could pass along to someone else freeing your time up to work in your brilliance? Take some time this week to look at areas where you can get support and share your results on the blog.