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July 25, 2018 By Jen Mathews

5 Tips to Transitioning from Solopreneur to Team Player

July 25, 2018

By Jen Mathews

Read More from Jen Mathews

July 25, 2018

5 Tips to Transitioning from Solopreneur to Team Player

By Jen Mathews
Senior Public Relations Manager

As a solopreneur, you’re smart, savvy, and motivated. But you know that! Look at you. You’ve set out to run a business on your own, which is no simple feat. However, great solopreneurs don’t always operate solo forever. As a business gains traction and begins to scale, every great founder needs to bring other people on to help execute their vision.

This is a task that can be extremely difficult. After all, your business is your baby. We get it. But this is a necessary and exciting step as your business grows. And being a great team player is an essential skill that every (former) solopreneur needs to master.

Here are five ways to work more efficiently with others and become a true team player:

1. Acknowledge your strengths.

Before diving in and hiring new talent for your business, take inventory of all of your job responsibilities as well as your strengths and weaknesses. Be prepared for a long list! It may be hard to let go of certain tasks that you’re accustomed to taking care of, but you can’t do everything — and if you try, you’re likely to burn out and disappoint yourself and your customers.

Determine what it is you’re best at, and delegate all other responsibilities. Empower your team to do their best work and then trust them. Micromanaging your employees will give you little extra time for more important projects that will help you scale your business, and will show people that you lack confidence in them — a sure fire way to lose great talent. So focus on your strengths and provide your new team members with all the tools they need to succeed!

2. Focus on individuals.

Developing good relationships with everyone you hire is crucial to building better teams and a better business. Get to know people for more than just their work skills and follow up with them often. You may even consider hosting team activities outside the office in a more casual atmosphere. This helps build mutual respect between you and your employees and opens communication doors. Your team members should feel comfortable asking you questions and finding solutions together.

And focusing on individuals also means recognizing them for their accomplishments. Don’t let successes go unnoticed or unrewarded. Recognition often makes people feel valued and more invested in the outcome of a project. So find every opportunity to acknowledge your team members!

3. Establish rules and create a “safe space”.

Starting with ground rules and creating a reporting infrastructure will allow team members to operate more efficiently, and ultimately be more innovative. When everyone on a team understands their role and knows who they can contact with problems, the system becomes much smoother. Problems and disagreements are inevitable. As a leader, it’s your job to make your team feel safe bringing new ideas — even risky or wild ideas — to the table.

Create a safe place for ideas and conflict resolution by communicating that it’s okay to disagree with someone. Let everyone know that no idea is a bad idea, and that when ideas arise that you disagree with, instead of only focusing on the negative, thank them for their idea and then present an actionable solution that can help move the project and the team forward. This way, rather than hearing, “I hate that. Next idea,” they hear, “Thanks for your idea. These are my concerns… How about we try this?”

4. Accept failure.

We’re not children any more. We don’t need to point fingers. Instead, be quick to accept blame. If something goes wrong and it’s your fault, own up to it. And if someone on your team fails, thank them.

This may sound out of the ordinary, but to foster teamwork and encourage innovation, leaders need to allow their teams to fail, and recognize failures as opportunities for growth. Instead of slamming the brakes on a project and exposing the culprit, communicate to your team that mistakes shouldn’t be feared, but expected, and viewed as a chance to craft a superior solution to a problem.

Leaders who avoid blame and demand perfect work from their teams will find themselves in silent, constrictive offices where fear restricts creativity. However, a leader who assumes blame quickly and passes on credit creates an environment where employees are free to innovate and grow from mistakes.

5. Ensure clear communication.

As a solopreneur, you most likely didn’t need to utilize team communication tools. However, as you begin to build your team, these platforms will be crucial for you and your team to stay up-to-date and connected.

Whether your team decides to use chat apps like Slack, email, audio or video conferencing like join.me, or all of the above, ensure that everyone is on the same page. Avoid vague or confusing jargon and explain all common acronyms and unique business phrases to new team members before throwing them into the thick of a project. Before meeting, check to make sure that everyone on your team has received important documents and communication so that meeting time isn’t wasted, and encourage questions. Everyone should understand their role on a team, and leave meetings and all communication with a better sense of direction and vision.

Whether you’re ready to hire one employee or a small army, be prepared to accept change. As your business grows, you will find that your company can be more successful as you let go of the reigns a little and entrust others with more responsibility. Hire skilled people that excel in areas you may struggle with. More importantly, hire people you trust, that perpetuate the culture you’d like to promote. Then get to know them individually. Recognize them for their achievements, set rules and create a safe place for them to create and grow, be quick to take blame, and ensure everyone is on the same page through clear communication.

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