Have you ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes in online business on a day to day basis? Like who does what, how many people are back there making things happen? What does it really take to build a successful business anyway?
I do. I’m super curious about every business I encounter. I’m lucky to know a lot of smart successful business owners who share their behind the scenes, and who help me see that business doesn’t have to be so mysterious.
What I’ve learned after 7 years of running an online business is that there’s no “self made person”. Even what looks like a “solopreneur celebrity brand” likely has a group of collaborators and support behind the scenes.
So today I thought it’d be cool to share what my team looks like, who does what, and how my team has evolved throughout the years.
Behind The Scenes In Online Business Teams
Let’s take a walk down memory lane, shall we?
2009: I start my business right out of college, and out of the gate try to partner with another creative entrepreneur.
It ends badly, so we part ways and I go back to doing everything myself. I get help from colleagues and friends, hire a coach, but do all of the implementation myself. It’s slow-going.
2010: Things are starting to pick up speed, and I hire my first virtual assistant for a handful of hours per month. She helps me with email and basic admin tasks, but because I end up switching businesses we part ways.
2011: Now operating as a web developer, I get booked solid and hire another developer to help with the overflow of work.
I partner with other designers and developers, too. This agency model works for us for a year, but I realize I’ve become a project manager… and decide to move into more consulting and info-product creation instead.
2012: At the start of the year, I collaborate with an amazing photographer and designer duo to freshen my brand. But by this point I’m back to being a solopreneur, thinking that this whole team thing isn’t right for me.
By the end of the year, I find myself booked with consulting clients so I hire my second virtual assistant. We really hit it off after starting working together just a handful of hours per month, and she’s still on my team today. Her role and amount of hours has evolved over time.
2013: Business is growing by leaps and bounds. I hire a lot more people this year. I hire a local event coordinator and marketing maven, a whole video crew, and a project manager to help keep it all together.
By the end of the year, my husband Robin has quit his corporate job to join my company full-time even though we’re not sure exactly what his role will be yet. (Find out more about how we learned to work together here.) I also collaborate with an amazing designer and it’s my first time working with a copywriter on a project basis.
2014: This was a year of transitions: we moved from NYC to Texas and essentially ended up with a whole different team except for my virtual assistant, designer, and Robin. We worked with a new video crew, new event planner, and new project manager.
Lots of hard lessons around hiring, from trying to hire too quickly once we moved, and not speaking up enough when we knew it wasn’t working out. Some of these lessons led to shifting our business model, but at the end the year I’m clear that the right team is key.
2015: My goal for 2015 was to build our dream team, and I’m so happy with where we’re at now! We hired another full-time developer early in the year (she’s wicked smart!), to keep taking our software products to new heights.
We also hired an audio and video production specialist in the Philippines who helps with our podcasts and tutorials. We also collaborated with freelance writers over the summer.
Next, we hired an amazing full-time project manager to help us keep everything running smooth and on time… and we’ve still got our incredible “much more than a VA” and collaborating designer along for the ride, too.
Plus Robin as our lead developer, and fantastic husband and father-to-be. :)
Now we’re hiring for a new role to round out the dream team: full-time technical writer and editor.
Small Business Teams Aren’t Your Typical Corporate Gigs
I don’t have a ton of corporate experience, beyond my internship years, but my experience being on an entrepreneurial team is totally different from the teams I was a part of in bigger businesses.
My team has gone through a lot of evolutions and changes over the years and I know one thing for sure:
Being part of a winning team is extremely gratifying.
I used to think of myself as that “solo athlete” who can do it all herself… But looking back at everything we’ve accomplished this year, I know without a doubt that I owe it all to my amazing team mates.
It’s so much fun to see an idea that someone on the team came up with turn into reality, like a new feature in our software, a blog post, a graphic on social media, you name it.
Plus, since we’re a small team we really get to know each other, and we make things happen quickly even if we all live in different parts of the world.
So that’s what the behind-the-scenes of my team structure looks like, I hope you found it helpful. Especially if you wonder how I get it all done (I don’t do it alone, I just get out of the way and let everyone do what they do best!) or you’re a little hesitant to hire your first team member.
A huge thank you goes out to my amazing team, and if you or someone you know might be a good fit for the Technical Writer + Editor role, please pass this link along.
Here’s to growing professionally, and collaborating with other amazing human beings!
Got Questions About Teams or Hiring?
I’m happy to answer your questions about hiring and teams in the comments below!