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How To Build A Team When You Haven’t Got The Income To Support Yourself

How To Build A Team When You Haven’t Got The Income To Support Yourself

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.

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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Last Updated on October 18, 2018

10 Key Characteristics of a Highly Successful Entrepreneur

10 Key Characteristics of a Highly Successful Entrepreneur

When it comes to starting your own business and pursuing your dream of becoming an entrepreneur, it can be advantageous to go all in and embrace the flexibility of finally quitting your day job.

Keep in mind, though, that it takes a special kind of person to take the business world by storm: a person who has cultivated the key characteristics of entrepreneurial success.

People with these characteristics are likely to succeed, whereas people without them have difficulty moving forward with even the most brilliant business ideas.

These characteristics of an entrepreneur are so important that I’ve decided to cover all 10 of them in detail so that you can start your business with your best foot forward.

1. Successful Entrepreneurs Practice Discipline

Plenty of business experts claim that you can’t get anywhere as an entrepreneur without vision or creativity, but that’s simply not the truth. Instead, the one quality that no entrepreneur can be successful without is discipline.

To build an idea into a business, you have to have the discipline to spend time slogging through the least fun parts of running a business (like the bookkeeping), rather than taking that time to do something fun.

Andrew Carnegie, one of the most financially successful Americans of all time, grew up working dull and difficult jobs in factories. Despite going to bed hungry some nights, he continued doing his best work. He was eventually hired by a railroad company and continued to move up the ladder until starting his own successful businesses. Carnegie is a fine example of an entrepreneur dedicated to discipline and hard work. He truly earned his dreams of prosperity and success.

When you’re the boss, there’s no one to keep you at work except yourself — and there’s no short-term consequences for skipping out early.

Sure, if an entrepreneur plays hooky enough he knows that the business just won’t happen, but it’s very hard to convince someone that ‘just this once’ won’t hurt (and to keep ‘just this once’ from becoming a daily occurrence).

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2. Successful Entrepreneurs Keep Calm

Things go wrong when you run your own business.

Most entrepreneurs go through crises with their businesses — and more than a few wind up with outright failures on their hands. But when you’re responsible for a business, you have to be able to keep calm in any situation. Any other reaction — whether you lose your temper or get flustered — compounds the problem.

Instead, a good entrepreneur must have the ability to keep his cool in an emergency or crisis. It may not make the problem easier to solve, but it certainly won’t make it harder.

Honestly, losing your calm is a quick path to becoming the kind of person who gives up in the face of adversity. Instead giving in to frustration, remember classic entrepreneur Benjamin Franklin.

Franklin kept his calm as he experimented and tweaked his inventions again and again in pursuit of success. He didn’t give up during his many failures – he chose to innovate. You can choose innovation, too.

If an entrepreneur can handle failure without frustration or anger, s/he can move past it to find success.

3. Successful Entrepreneurs Pay Attention to Details

Restricting your attention to the big picture can be even more problematic than ‘sweating the small stuff.’

As an entrepreneur, unless venture capital has magically dropped out of the sky, a small expense can be a killer. It’s attention to detail that can make a small business successful when it has competition and it’s attention to detail that can keep costs down.

Attention to detail can be difficult to maintain — going over ledgers can be tedious even when you aren’t trying to pay close attention — but keeping your eye on a long-term vision is just asking for a problem to sneak in under a radar.

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After a business grows, an entrepreneur might be able to hire someone to worry about the details. In the beginning, though, only one person can take responsibility for the details.

Skeptical about the importance of details? Look no further than Howard Schultz, who grew a small coffee shop called Starbucks into one of the most globally successful coffee businesses in the world through his extreme attention to detail.

He is famous for taking all aspects of growing a business into account, paying attention not only to financially smart business decisions, but also focusing on socially responsible business decisions. Details can take you far.

4. Successful Entrepreneurs Embrace Risks

No entrepreneur has a sure thing, no matter how much money s/he stands to earn on a given product. Even if a product tests well, the market can change, the warehouse can burn down and a whole slew of other misfortune can befall a small business.

It’s absolutely risky to run a business of your own and while you can get some insurance, it’s not like most investment options. Even worse, if something does go wrong, it’s the entrepreneur’s responsibility — no matter the actual cause. In order to deal with all of that without developing an ulcer, you have to have a good tolerance for risk.

You don’t need to channel your inner frat boy and take on absolutely stupid risks, but you need to know just how much you can afford to risk — and get a good idea of how likely you are to lose it. If the numbers make you uncomfortable, the risk is too great.

Embracing risks is essential for growth and additional success, as well. Walt Disney, for example, could have stayed comfortable with his advances in the film and animation industries, but decided to expand his brand with a new dream: a theme park that soared above the competition. Without taking this risk, the incredibly successful Disney theme park empire would never have come about.

An entrepreneur has to be willing to accept pretty big risks, with some level of comfort.

5. Successful Entrepreneurs are Balanced

You can take any characteristic too far. There’s a point at which attention to detail can become obsession or calm can become unemotional response.

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As an entrepreneur, you have to be able to balance your characteristics, getting the most of them without going over the edge. But balance for an entrepreneur goes far beyond keeping your characteristics in check, though.

Just as an entrepreneur doesn’t have a boss to keep them at work when necessary, they don’t have one to send them home when they’re done. If you are working for yourself, you have to decide how to balance your work and home life — and if you have a day job to add into the equation, balance just gets more complicated.

Oprah Winfrey, one of the most successful and influential entrepreneurs out there, understands the importance of balance. Winfrey has a lot going on; she runs her own media kingdom, acts, produces films, publishes print, and more. In an interview with Fast Company,[1] she talks about her efforts to balance priorities and self care, saying that she must ask herself what is truly important in each limited day.

You may or may not have as much on your plate as Oprah, but learning how to balance whatever you have going on in life will certainly help you farther along down the road as you learn to be a great entrepreneur.

6. Successful Entrepreneurs are Passionate and Motivated

In order to develop any of the above characteristics, you must have a foundation of passion. Staying disciplined day after day during the building of your business takes unrivaled motivation.

Before you start any business, ask yourself if you can sustain true excitement about your idea during even the darkest days ahead of you. If the answer is yes, then good for you! Nurture your natural motivation by taking these action steps throughout your business journey:

  • Commit to making short and long-term goals. Check in with them often to stay on task.
  • Have a plan in place for the inevitable days when you feel discouraged. Make a list of things that will help keep you motivated and focused.
  • Share your ideas with trusted individuals who are just as excited as you are. They will help keep your enthusiasm rolling even when you are feeling down.

By being prepared for apathetic days and holding fast to your authentic passion, you can actually enjoy your journey to success.

7. Successful Entrepreneurs Adapt

Remember this one word: flexibility. Seasoned entrepreneurs know that change is not only a part of life, but also a part of the business world. Expect change and choose to adapt.

As a new entrepreneur, it will be tempting to cling to your original business plan with no exceptions, even if you notice it isn’t working. Good entrepreneurs know that it’s okay to make smart, informed changes in order to ensure efficiency.

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8. Successful Entrepreneurs are Marketing and Sales Experts

No matter what kind of business you are starting, a knowledge of marketing and sales will save you many headaches. A passion for creating a beautiful handmade lifestyle product is not enough to run a successful lifestyle brand; it is critical that you understand key business principles in addition to your natural skills or great product line.

Not sure how to start? Taking business courses is a great idea, but you can also easily brush up on sales and marketing through free online resources. Check out these 10 Sales Skills Everyone Should Master To Be Successful to begin now.

9. Successful Entrepreneurs Have Strong Money Management

Along with sales and marketing skills, money management is a very useful tool in the box of the entrepreneur. Understanding how to best manage your money can be the difference between early success and early failure in the business world.

If money management isn’t your strongest skill, prepare to hire a financial expert to help you with any tricky business that comes up. Financial guidance and knowledge is never a bad idea.

10. Successful Entrepreneurs Ask Questions and Continually Improve

Pride is a natural human quality, but it’s important to humbly conduct some constructive criticism every now and again on both yourself as a leader and your new business as a whole.

Assess how things are going and be willing to make positive changes if necessary. Here’re 15 ways to cultivate lifelong learning.

If you are always improving, then how can you ultimately fail?

The Bottom Line

Let me remind you of one important fact: the qualities of an entrepreneur listed here are not exclusively available to some people and elusive to others.

Although some people may have natural strengths and weaknesses, these qualities can be learned by anyone interested in taking up the entrepreneurial challenge. It might not be easy to change old habits, but it is absolutely possible to cultivate these characteristics in yourself.

Whether you’re a business owner or an aspiring entrepreneur, with hard work, you can train yourself to develop the qualities that truly determine the entrepreneurial spirit and future success.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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