Transitioning From Solopreneur to a Team Leader
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While there are some exceptions, most entrepreneurs start out as solopreneurs. Whether it’s hustling on the side, working full-time from home or running your own physical business, when you begin your journey, it’s just you. You’re the only one responsible working for and running the business.
Some people are perfectly content with flying solo. But, the solitary flight also limits you from reaching the full potential of your business. How can you grow your business and increase revenue when you’re juggling multiple responsibilities throughout the day? To build a business, you'll have to stop wearing so many hats and have enough trust -- to take someone on to help you with all the responsibility.
The desire to grow a business to full potential is a primary reason why a solopreneur makes the leap to a business owner. After all, it shows that your business is strong enough that you have to hire employees. In turn, hiring allows you to focus on areas that you either enjoy or hate -- but you can target the areas that are essential to more significant business growth.
Going from a solopreneur to leading a team requires different skills and a unique change in your mindset. You'll make this transition smoother if you take the following steps.
Self-awareness, according to the authors of “How To Become a Better Leader, is the most important capability leaders should develop. It’s “crucial for evolving and finding coping strategies for weaknesses.”
Additionally, self-awareness is the key to entrepreneurial success. For starters, it helps you realize your strengths and weaknesses. Knowing this allows you to surround yourself with the right people. Ideally, they complement your strengths and pick up the slack in your weaker areas.
Furthermore, being self-aware can assist you in aligning the strength of your team to the business. It guides you in developing your authentic brand and will aid you in making faster and more efficient decisions. Self-awareness reveals you to you -- and helps you keep your emotions in check.
As you’ve already done, take stock of your strengths and weaknesses. You need to determine in what positions you require new employees, then find talented individuals who can handle these responsibilities. In short, find the right team members who will help grow your business.
Of course, there’s much more to that during the hiring process. Potential employees should be both diverse and a fit with your culture. These team members should be key players in your long-term goals.
These are many avenues to consider. Remember to surround yourself with talented people who leave their negativity at home, are responsible, have drive and are passionate about what you’re business is about. When you find these people, they’ll take the ball and run with it, and you don’t have to micromanage them.
Evolve from control freak to delegator.
Perhaps the biggest hurdles to overcome are control issues. When you’re working alone, you pretty much get to make and play by your own rules. All your ideas won't fly when leading a team.
While you’re still the boss who has the final word, becoming an effective leader is learning how to delegate. Handing over the right tasks to people who are capable of getting the job done will free you to do yours. It’s not always just passing off the stuff you don’t want to do to underlings.
The most important aspect of delegating, however, is giving your team room to breathe. In other words, don’t creepily hover over your employees and criticize their work. Give them autonomy so they can work their magic. Starting a businesses is hard enough with having your team feel you're being a micro-manager.
Know your 'why.'
To succeed as an entrepreneur, you need to know your "why." If you’re stuck on this, then think about why you get out of bed each morning. It’s not because the alarm went off. There’s that drive that makes you want to succeed. Your personal drive will help you determine why you developed your product and service in the first place, and why you’re the best to help solve a problem.
Discovering your own intentions will help you think about the purpose of your business. Why is it going to thrive? Why would customers support it? Answering these questions not only guides you but helps add purpose and passion. You can use that to motivate your team, since it lets them know they’re doing meaningful work.
As an added perk, identifying and sharing your “why” creates a shared goal. “When working with a partner or team, it is important to have the same overall goal or vision,” writes Johnetta Paye Esq. “When things get challenging, a common goal motivates everyone to continue to push through the obstacles to accomplish the overall goal.”
Related: How to Find a Deeper "Why"
Build trust individually among team members.
“If leaders want to be effective, they must earn the trust of those they lead,” explains Stacey Hanke in a previous Entrepreneur article. “Developing trust is essential for your team's success and your success as a leader.” One survey found that “55 percent of respondents believe a lack of trust is a serious threat to the success of their teams and their business.
How can you build trust among your team? The most obvious places to start is granting them the freedom to work as they please. It’s a big sign that you believe in them enough that they can do their job without your interference.
Additionally, you should carve out time to get to know them personally. Personal attention not only shows that you care but demonstrates that you are watching for and finding hidden talents. Down the road, you may ask them to put those skills to work for the business. Blocking out individual moments to effectively communicate your expectations, always being transparent and never participating in the blame game shapes team trust levels quickly. If you mess up, own your mistake and use it as an educational moment.
Curb expectations and accept failure.
“The number one pitfall to beware of as you transition from solopreneur to manager is managing expectations,” Mayank Garg, a member of the FounderSociety, told HuffPost. “As a solopreneur, you are fully aware of your capabilities, and you can judge and manage your expectations.” During the “transition to become a manager, you fall short in judging true expectations from your employees, as they mostly only have themselves as a reference.”
You can also anticipate that your team will stumble along the way. They’re not going to have all of the answers -- just as you don’t always have clarity. Mistakes will most definitely happen. Resist losing your cool, and use any error as an opportunity to learn and grow -- for both you and your team. Maybe you weren’t clear on the guidelines of a project or didn't have proper training, and possibly all resources were not made available.
You want to foster an environment that encourages growth innovation. You can provide growth through feedback, books, professional development courses and providing opportunities to attend a conference or event. You'll always want your team to feel comfortable speaking up, asking questions and sharing what’s on their minds.
Shift your priorities.
Finally, when you’re working on your own, everything is essential and urgent. You’re actively wearing multiple hats, and you're passionately involved with your business. When you're an entrepreneur on your own, Bri Seely explains on Influencive, your “perspective is day to day, rather than the broader view of three, five or 10 years out.”
“Entrepreneurs are more adept at prioritization and focusing on the bigger tasks that will create a greater impact on their bottom line,” adds Bri. In other words, they need to spend their time engaged in activities that will help them achieve their long-term goals instead of daily tasks.