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How to Be the Best Team Leader

Have you ever thought to yourself that hiring a team is too much work, costs too much, and seems too overwhelming? We are going to cover all the ins and outs of what hiring a team entails, and what it looks like to build a team,  as well as the secret to being a great team leader.   

Ashley from the Abundance Group is the owner of two companies, the first is Simply Elegant Group, which is one of the largest wedding planning companies in the country located in 9 different locations with a team of 40 wedding planners. 

The second is a partner group, led by Ashley’s dad who’s a creative entrepreneur and wedding planner with over 40 employees across 10 states. He is a highly-coveted leadership development coach for some of the largest fortune 500 companies and has helped over 1.2 million people throughout his entire career.  

Together they bring that to the creative entrepreneur community, helping people feel great about building their teams and not feel like it is such a big task to do. 

Starting your team

Ashley wanted to build a company where she had 20 to 25 weddings a year, so she could stay at home with her babies when she had them. In about six months she hit the goal and wasn’t sure what would come next. She went for coffee with her dad and he brought up the idea of building a team, and at first she was skeptical about the idea. 

He talked about the potential she would have if she had a team. But the main catalyst for her was when she started to turn away business, because she was already booked on certain dates. 

One of the indications that you’re ready for a team is when you have to turn away business; this means you’ve done the hard work to figure out your marketing and sales. So now you need to figure out what a team might look like within your organization.  

What does a team look like?

It doesn’t have to be 40 employees across nine states. It might just be a little bit of help! On the VA side, it might be bringing on one or two people that can help you implement client work, but it should be in line with your vision for your company. 

Ashley started with one planner because she had two clients scheduled on the same date and she wanted to still show up and serve them, so she had a friend of hers who went to school for event management come in and help out. She reached out to her for collaborative work and they did it. It was phenomenal! That was when she decided to have other people become a part of her organization. 

In the abundance group, there are two big chasms people have to jump first, and that is moving from a corporate job to a solopreneur. That’s hard and scary. The next is bringing on other humans to be a part of your team, which can also be scary.  

Ashley and her dad are very passionate about helping people through some of those mindset shifts and things you have to think about when you build a team. The prize at the other end after one has jumped those two chasms is unlimited growth potential. 

Time to build a team

The biggest thing to do is to take action. You’re going to figure it out along the way! Some people have built teams before you that can help you, guide you and help you avoid some of those mistakes. Just like when you jumped to become an entrepreneur, you decided you were going to do it. You just decide you are going to do it and then move forward. 

You can’t know the right time to build your team, you just have to give that momentum first. 

As business owners thinking about building a team is to do the work to figure out what the opportunity is. At Ashley’s group, they have an exercise where you can figure out the additional revenue you couldn’t bring in realistically with a team member. Figure out what that number is and then know if it is worth it; if it is worth stepping out of your comfort zone a little bit to try and make this happen. 

Entrepreneurs are a fearless bunch most of the time, but there are times when it feels too big and too scary. The biggest thing to do is do the exercise of thinking about the opportunity versus the potential problems. That creates clarity of what you could have in your business. 

If you decide that you want to grow a team and decide that you want to grow a team, then you will figure it out as you go. 

Contractors or support employees 

Now, about a contractor employee. The whole idea is the issue of control, how much control do you have over the person working on your team. Backing up a little bit from that we have to think about the government, they want tax money because they need to be funded. 

So how the system is set up is new to you. It leans more towards the employee side of things, wanting people to be employees. If you have contractors, you have to prove their contractors.

The assumption is that they’re probably employees. In some states like California, where it is almost impossible to have contractors, there are two big kinds of measurements that the federal government uses. It’s called the IRS 20 factors test and AB five or ABC test. Some tests are very rigorous and stringent. Most times employees are just the way to go to not have to navigate all of that in these states. It’s all about the level of control you have over the team member.

How it works

Ashley is kind of a contractor for her clients.  She’s going to get the work done as she’s the professional, the expert. She is hired because of that. They don’t tell her how to do stuff, they’re hiring her because of her expertise. The contractor is somebody like that. Contractors are specialty workers you have for a season. 

They do their thing and then they leave. If you have any non-compete agreements with independent contractors, it’s almost automatically they’re going to be pushed into the employee pool. Overall it bores down to how much you are controlling that team member and the kind of work they’re doing for you, what they are producing.  Also, taxes affect it all and make it all complex. 

It is why a lot of people don’t give employees money because they’re afraid of the costs of the taxes. You have to learn the activity.

Contractors pay their taxes so you don’t pay any of theirs. The contractor in the grand scheme of things should probably charge more money per hour than you would pay an employee. Some people think it’s more expensive to have an employee but you can offset some of those costs by having a different hourly wage.

 For example, you might pay a contractor $100 an hour to do something. They’re responsible for all of their equipment. They also pay their taxes. So you’re just paying an invoice. They tell their community like a buffer of about 10% as the cost of the taxes they’ll pay. 

In employees, you have loyalty built in so you can set certain expectations which is an asset for your business. 

Finding new team members

Finding new team members, employees or contractors can be confusing but then there are things like your network Facebook groups locally. Use your social channels, following alerts, email lists; there are different ways to leverage. 

The best place people find people is LinkedIn. It’s a place where people are looking for jobs. Ashley uses LinkedIn to find talents in the team. Leverage LinkedIn to find your incredible team. 

What you’re trying to do when hiring is find the best option. When you post a job on LinkedIn, you have four great candidates that you’ve interviewed. How do you decide? One of the things for Ashley is that she leans on character. 

There are things the candidates are already interviewed for; how well do they know the industry? What is their experience? If you get along with them, most importantly they’re teachable. Do they have the intent to do a great job? Do they have great work ethic? Look for their experience with previous bosses and teams. 

For Ashley, interviews are mostly a conversation, not an interrogation as she’s trying to learn about them, and see who they are. From there of the four, she would pick the one that she feels aligns best with the intent and goal of her team.

The Onboarding process

There are a whole lot of tools within Ashley’s community that they love and a checklist that you can check which is easy, as well as standard operating procedures.  You can use the zoom calls where you teach them a timeline, a design, anything necessary you discuss with them on the call and send the written SOPs to them. 

Sometimes you can work together as a team and build your standard operating procedures together. Whether contractors or employees, you’re the leader of your team so you get to decide how you build your community with your team to keep them happy and keep it a positive workspace. 

Managing the team

The biggest thing as a leader is that you are there to positively influence people. You make their lives better, and easier. You’re there to help them grow in their knowledge within your company.

As a leader, you’re adding value to your team. The biggest and toughest is learning empathy for others and an understanding for others. You have to be firm, while at the same time showing empathy for their situation and needs. You show up how you would want your boss to show up and talk to you.

Leadership for Ashley is about how to create a space where she can positively influence others. Also one of the keys to that is learning to be less selfish. Leadership is about serving the other person and acknowledging them. You need to be in tune with yourself: who you are, how you work and how you run to serve other people.

If you’re an authoritative person, you have to slow down a bit. If you are a friendly person, you have to put on a firm scale. It’s all about finding the balance. Your job as a leader is to bring about creative solutions to them to support and challenge them to be the best version of themselves. 

Team building hacks

Experiences are a great way to build and foster unity in a team but relationships are built when there’s conflict in tough moments. That provides the opportunity to grow together because leadership is a relationship. 

You lead someone and have someone say, “I believe in your vision and I’m behind you.” Tough conflicts foster unity more than the easy, fun, and exciting stuff. It is easy to be in sync when everything is going right. It’s tougher when there are those challenges.

A great way to communicate and stay organized with your team is to use Slack. In the Abundance Group and Simply Elegant Group, they use Slack, as well as email. Sometimes will text depending on the kind of staff, part-time employees receive messages sometimes and the core team may communicate by voice message. 

Also if there’s miscommunication and people aren’t on the same page it is often nice to talk it out in one of the team sessions or meetings. Communication is the key to any successful business and helps in staying organized as everyone has a clear view of what is expected of them.  

Taking your first steps 

The first thing could be hiring a VA and just starting slow with building your team. Think about the opportunity and not the potential for failure. Be incredibly optimistic that it’ll work. Look at the gains, and the revenue you’ll bring into the company. 

Know that it is worth getting uncomfortable for since it is a big deal. Ashley wrote a business guide that tackles other mindset issues, like how you trust your team, especially when a VA comes in for example. This includes having to give them your passwords and all. 

This guide is free and you can get it at letsbuildyourteam.com. In the guide you look at the opportunity, seeing what a team could do for you so the fear gets smaller and smaller. For all the things you’re afraid of you get the answers in the guide. 

What a team member brings

Ashley is a mom of a four-year-old who is active. She wanted to be with her at any moment. From that perspective, she thought that hiring a VA is like how much time a person can buy. The value of that in your business, in your life, and family. Hiring a VA for five hours, you have three of those hours and you can work on your strengths, be more productive, have more revenue, and more sales. 

Not only are you trading time, but you’re also gaining money. Focusing on the opportunity helps better. In her community, they decided to build the guide to serve as a tool for success as it covers all the tough questions on steps to building your team. You can find these resources on their website.

Ashley was someone who worked for 80 hours a week, so she left the corporate job to begin a new life. She was living with her then-boyfriend, and as her dreams got bigger, she realized her impact could be bigger. They created a community that could help people better and also provided the right resources to help bridge the mindset gap for people, so people don’t get stuck or overwhelmed. They never take action as years go by and they realize that they should have hired some help. The resource serves as the perfect guide to help creative entrepreneurs begin their teams. 

Final thoughts 

Ashley from The Abundance Group can be found on Instagram giving people advice and answering questions asked in her DMs. She addresses entrepreneurs’ business models and lets them know about the resources in place that’ll help tackle their problems. Her work at the Simply Elegant Group is salaried, which allows her to work only 10 hours a week. This gives her space to help entrepreneurs build and have their dream life. 

You shouldn’t have to do clients’ work all day, every day. There is a way to position yourself as the visionary of your company. You get to know what direction to steer your company in rather than nose to the grindstone on all kinds of client work. That’s Ashley’s passion and she loves it!  

It is easier to manage your family, business, and lifestyle better when you have people you delegate and offload tasks to, giving you more time to be productive, strategic about your growth and make more revenues. 

Be sure to check out more Gold Biz Podcast episodes here!

how to be the best team leader
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