Think Inc.

Supporting Roles

How can you accommodate your business's growth without hiring in-house staffers or working with independent contractors? It's easy: Create a team of entrepreneurs with talents, experience and resources you can call on to meet the demands of your business.

A Web site developer, for example, might have a copywriter, a graphic designer and other technical experts on her team to handle big projects. A greeting card and stationery designer could use a manufacturer's representative to sell his line. An interior decorator might form an alliance with a painter, a wood refinisher and an upholstery shop owner to round out client services. In addition to helping with overflow work, your team can also help you get larger projects.

To recruit the best talent for your team, assess the skills you need and look for other entrepreneurs who have those abilities. You can find them at industry meetings, chamber of commerce gatherings or leads groups. Get to know people, and learn about what they do and how you can work together. Let them know you're interested in collaborating with them.

Start with small, simple interactions to get comfortable with how your team functions. Exchange leads, business articles of mutual interest or information about helpful seminars and workshops. Meet once a month for several months to let members interact and build a rapport with one another.

When you have a project that requires input from your team, be sure to clearly define each person's role. Each team member should be clear about when his or her contribution is due and the amount of compensation each should expect.

If members don't produce, ask them to re-examine their commitments. Have a replacement in mind in case you need to make a change to your team.

Building your team network takes some effort in the beginning, but it's a great way to maintain your independence while you grow your new company.

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