Growing a team as a small business owner

I’ve figured out a lot about myself during my adventure in owning Hello Social Co. I started the social media marketing agency about two and a half years ago — and then, I thought I wanted to go it solo forever.

It turns out though, that that’s just not who I am.

I’ve always been interested in personality tests and quizzes. One year, I read all of Gretchen Rubin’s books, and figured out how my personality truly shapes who I am. And in the business world, I took the “Being Boss” What Kind of CEO Are You? quiz. Plus, I participated in Leadership Centre County, where we took a quiz that showed us what kind of leader we are, and how we work with other people.

And what all of these tests and quizzes showed me are that I’m a leader, not necessarily a do-er. I’m a dreamer and a delegator. And if you ask the Being Boss quiz, I’m a “Visionary CEO.”

What this means for my business, is that I’m the Strategy gal. I’m making the big plans for the business: Working on service offerings and how to refine them, talking with our clients about how our services are affecting their businesses, and dreaming up the next big thing. When it comes to to day-to-day management of our clients accounts or projects, I’m not the right person for the job (and that’s OK!).

In the past two and a half years, I’ve truly morphed from solopreneur into CEO. And I couldn’t become a CEO without putting a team in place.

From left: Me!, Social Media Manager Amanda Williams, Social Media Manager Katey Crean, and former intern Emma Kauffman (we miss you, Emma!)

Choosing a team

Hello Social Co. currently has two full-time employees, and we work with three independent contractors that help us get the job done. We usually have a Penn State University intern, too.

Choosing your team in a very small agency like this (and in any business) is all about finding people with complementary traits to yours. For example, while I could make a to-do list and spend a month trying to get through some of the basic tasks (while powering through the visionary stuff), team member Katey makes meticulous charts and lists that help her accomplish all of her daily tasks.

There’s a handful of traits that I look for in team members:

Responsibility. While we do have some set office hours, a lot of our time is spent working remotely. I expect my team to manage their own schedules and make sure they’re working their 40 hours per week.

Trust. On that same note, I choose people that I know I can trust to handle our clients accounts.

Vision. If a team member can’t look to the future of Hello Social Co. with me, then they’re not a right fit. As a startup, things are going to change as Hello Social Co. evolves, and my team needs to be not only willing, but excited to change with the company.

Timeliness. This isn’t the kind of job where you can let projects roll for months without end. Often times, our clients expect to see results from week to week, and having a deadline-driven team is important for getting the job done.

Personality. At the end of the day, working for a social media agency isn’t a job for someone that can’t have any fun. Team members not only have to be able to write fun and engaging social media copy; they have to be willing to send a funny gif or two per day in Slack to the rest of the team.

While I thought that I wanted to work for myself and by myself forever, becoming a “CEO” has been life-changing, and has truly allowed me to live my life on my own terms.

The team for Hello Social Co. probably won’t get much bigger, though. While I’m dreaming up one more full-time position for the agency, I never want to manage so many people that that becomes the job itself.

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