It’s frustrating. You spend an eternity at the computer into the wee hours of the morning, and still you never seem to get through a fraction of what you need to do to get your business really rocking. All those hopes and dreams and exciting plans … all pushed to the back burner whilst you try like crazy just to get through your to-do list.

Working in isolation on something, whether it’s your own business, your Plan B or a work project, can be one of the most difficult things to do. Everything is on you. If you get stuck you’re the only one who can deal with it. If you have a mountain of tasks, you just have to settle in and do it all yourself, all the while keeping focused on the big picture, which is very difficult to do.

Frankly, it’s exhausting.

Time to Do Something Differently

So, you’ve decided you need to get a team around you, which is great in principle, but it’s back to the age-old problem: you haven’t got the money to pay them. Heck, most people in your situation barely have the cash to pay themselves, let alone another person!

You’re not alone in this dilemma.

Like most people with budding projects, you know that if you could just bring in some additional help, you could accomplish several times what you’re already doing. Without the resources, you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place, though.

There is a way around this, and when you understand a few important principles it all becomes a much easier problem to solve. The first sticking-point you need to tackle is your own ideas about your project and your personal involvement.

I get it. It’s your baby. Your idea. A symbol of everything you stand for, and hopefully also of some reward at the end of the hard work. However, having to control everything to the nth degree is only ever going to perpetuate the bottleneck you’re already experiencing. Shift your perception and constantly remind yourself to hand off input to the individuals you bring in to help you. If you can do this whilst taking overall responsibility for the project, you’ll automatically open up that bottleneck and give people the environment to thrive and over-deliver.

(Note: This also means you’ve got to give up being a perfectionist. Perfectionism and over-control only ever destroy a team’s motivation and consequently the amount of effort they’ll put in. Let it go. The success of your project depends on it.)

The second shift you need to make is in understanding other people’s motivations.

It’s Not About the Money

When looking to bring new skills into a project, most people assume it’s all about the money. If you only had money, you could persuade someone talented and skilled to come in and help. If you only had the cash, there would be options to shift some of the admin or book-keeping off your plate.

When someone takes a job, they normally do it for the money.

However, when someone joins a team, they do it for other motivating factors. It fulfills other needs, like the need to be useful, to contribute beyond themselves. People love to be a part of something, and to be around others with similar ideas to them — or even better, to be led by someone with a vision.

When you truly understand other people’s motivations, you realize that you don’t necessarily have to pay people money in order to motivate them to help you. However, this does mean that your vision for your project has to be something more inspiring and meaningful than just paying your own bills. If that’s all it is for you at the moment, get a bigger vision or go and do something else.

OK, so now we understand the two basic components in involving people and taking cash out of the equation, let’s look at some tangible methods you can use to build your team when you’ve barely got the cash to pay yourself…

Finding Good Team Members Without the Price Tag

  1. The first thing you need to do is focus your own talents on what you find easy. This way you’ll remain in flow and passionate about what you’re working on. Your energy will be contagious!
  2. The next thing is to get others involved to do the tasks that aren’t in your natural flow. You can often do this by arranging a skill swap with someone. Say for instance you hate admin: if you can swap the admin with someone who loves doing it, in exchange for helping them with their networking, marketing, or whatever, then you both get to do the things you like whilst simultaneously making progress on your respective projects. This doesn’t work once your business reaches a certain size because each project will require more time and focus, but it’s a great stop-gap whilst you’re getting going.
  3. The biggest drain on project leaders (and therefore the first thing they should get rid of) is administration and book-keeping. If you can afford a small amount of outlay, it is well worth investing it to free up your time. Great value for money can be found when you work with stay-at-home moms, or students, who are happy to do these little jobs for a few hours a week.
  4. The next hurdle people struggle with is bringing in technical help. Again, this can be done very cost effectively by working with computing students, or tech-savvy friends or family members (even if they aren’t IT professionals) with whom you can agree a low retainer for doing things like maintaining your website and email list. The retainer system works really well because the amount of help you need may vary from month to month, but if you’re paying for someone to be involved and help you, they’re more likely to think of themselves as part of your team and go the extra mile. What’s more, you’re more likely to ask for their input about the best way to do things, which helps you make more informed decisions.
  5. Profit sharing is another way to reward people for their involvement. Often side projects take a while to monetize, and so there isn’t the much-needed cash to get things moving in the early days. If your potential team members are open to being involved in return for a cut of the profits as the project comes to fruition, this would be a good arrangement in some cases.
  6. Reaching out to your network is also an excellent way to connect with like-minded people who are willing to get involved in the right project. Reconnect with people you haven’t been in touch with for a while. Post a message on Facebook talking about what you’re looking to do and what you need. Ask people who have lots of connections if they know of someone for a specific task or role. You’ll be surprised at who they can connect you with.

So, there you have it. These are the kinds of things anyone can do at any stage of a project — but they work particularly well when you’re operating on a shoe-string budget. Remember: let go of wanting to control everything. Get a big vision and then focus on fulfilling what others are looking for. You will have people helping you, forming a team in no time … without a massive cash layout.

It takes great leadership style to build great teams. 5 Leadership Styles that Help You Build a High Performance Team

Featured photo credit: Happy business team with arms crossed at the officevia Shutterstock

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