It takes a village – a well-curated team
You cannot run an efficient enterprise on one person’s brainpower.
You’d lose the ‘efficiency’ right away. And it’s so limiting. So, why would you?
Most hugely successful independent brands have a ‘village’ behind them. Yes, the vision is likely one person’s. And it’s likely one person who will stop breathing if the enterprise fails.
But there’s always a team.
With time and effort, a well-curated (if ever changing, because that’s the nature of things) team that works with the accuracy of dangerous weaponry. (That metaphor seemed appropriate for the times.)
One that gets you, completes you, makes you better. Sharpens you.
That knowledge is rarely available to us at first – those of us that label ourselves solopreneurs, or members of the ‘gig economy’ or ‘hustlers’ or whatever the it-vocabulary-of-the-moment is for the self-employed.
Here’s the story of my journey to that realization.
I don’t think there’s anybody who can do it as well as me.
And ‘it’ can be a multitude of things. I think I can do most things better (atleast for myself) than others can do them for me. It’s a fairly typical ‘jack of all trades’ affliction, I’ve come to understand. What might seem like delusions of grandeur to many, is, in fact, a way people like me have lived our lives for a long time. We just DIY that shit.
So if that is the background space in which I’m operating, imagine what I get like for work. 100 percent freakishly clingy. I do not let go easy.
I am the epitome of the Un-Zen. (I was. Well, it’s a work in progress.)
Being self employed is hard to describe. It’s the perfect choice in many ways for me. I wrote about how it brings together many of the parts of myself that were often held out for correction, or change, when I was growing up and even after, in my career. Adrenalin-driven, critical (especially of myself), arrogant and diffident at the same time, a loner. As somebody who works for myself, I get to be all of those things.
And that came at a price. The stress always takes its toll. And it’s usually relationships and health. Both of which hit me in the face a few times this past year. That’s not the story today, maybe later – I do love a good public catharsis.
Today’s story is the realizations that have come out of that, and what it’s done for my business. And my mental health.
When the time came for me to decide how I would scale my business up last year, I gave it deliberate consideration. I could choose a model in which my time is what I sell and I’d be uber fabulous and sell out months ahead of time and keep myself in the moolah.
Or I could scale up to the ‘agency model’. (Where other resources help me deliver length, breadth, and depth of service – AKA managing other people.) A model I had a love-hate relationship with. Remember it was one that came to represent lots of fatty headweight, moderately funny divas, and only a very dim focus on results. It took effort to get past my tendency to #HardPass on that model only because of yucky memories.
That, I decided was the direction I want to go in after all. No labels. Just that length-breadth-depth direction.
I will never be that person who maximizes every second of their time, anyway. I need to flake out and dream up my next big thing.
What I am however is the person who thinks everything is easy. The upside of that is that I will leap off a cliff every chance I get, and learn new things. And people like that build shit.
I built my own job as a new immigrant to this country. I’m very proud of that. That knowledge is what takes away my fear and helps keep me motivated.
It is the legacy I want to leave my daughter. That you can be the maker of your life. Despite the shit.
I also am the person that will teach you everything I know and find the shortest hacks to help you learn it.
I am, further, the person that thrives on energy (when I choose it – much of the time I skulk alone on my couch). In the presence of the right energy (including alcohol ;)), I get twice as smart, fast, funny, and confident.
All this, I decided, makes me the perfect person for team magic.
Because quite honestly, nobody can do all aspects of entrepreneurship on their own. Think about it. We all use support, however minimal. Whether it’s a bookkeeper at tax time, a VA, a mailbox service – we all use some support.
So logically scaling up should really only take that mindset, extended to greater things. Right?
Except you wouldn’t know that from my experience.
I tried haphazard, fear-filled things to outsource when my plate was over full. None of them worked. Or at least I made them work at a fairly ridiculous cost to myself, which I was so ready to change. (That health thing we talked about up front. Mental, physical. All of it.)
My critical, nit-pickiness was in full force. I hated everything everyone did. Granted, I was looking for writers and I didn’t find the good ones easy. It was also probably the worst place for me to start, in retrospect.
So after struggling with it for ages, I got help.
I signed up for a group program with a business coach who I had liked, and watched for a while. I then got various levels of help from her till I scaled up to a one-on-one ongoing support situation more recently. It had to be done. I need help. We all need help.
I then got a mindset coach. Quite by accident, but I knew I found the one when I found her.
Those two actions in themselves were life-changing. They brought out the best versions of me and taught me how to manage the ones I saw as the worst versions of me. They created clarity and resolve and resourcefulness and the true hum of confidence.
But that’s not all.
It’s not just all vague-guru-spout-age. It’s quantifiable action. The beauty of those investments is how far they stretch.
I’m working with 3 clients, in 3 different industries, and one project of my own, all, in short, quantifying the value of advice. It’s shocking how similar the focus is regardless of the vertical.
Plan. Then do.
(Works in finance.
Works in consulting.
Works in technology.
Works for me.
It will work for you.)
The value of advice is limitless. Strategic advice delivered based on a clear understanding of circumstances is invaluable. That’s what I went out and got myself in these ladies.
That advice is what extended into my creation of a strategy for myself for hiring. For me, it needed to be a mix of strategic minds that complements my thinking (and doing), and technology. And that’s what I’ve got myself. It’s made such a massive, massive difference in my business. In efficiency, and in just better output; all the time.
It’s the difference between being a person and being a framework.
Yes, I’d be the only one who’d ‘die’ if my business died. But I now have many people who’d care a whole lot if that were to happen, and consistently bring some of their best work to ensure it doesn’t.
It really does take a village.
You’ll get to meet many of those people over time. Today… a shout out to strategic advice. And the wonderful minds that provide it.