As you’re growing and scaling your business, it eventually becomes the time when you need to start building a team. As you’re building a team, you’ll want to focus on hiring the exact types of people that will best help you. A lot of us entrepreneurs have not had previous experience managing a team…so let’s cover some tips that will help you!
You may already be feeling overwhelmed. If you haven’t even hired your first team member yet, it’s a little crazy to be talking about the next 9, right?? Wrong!
This is something you should be considering before you even hire one single person to help you. Right from the beginning, it’s important to set yourself up for success. You need a team that’s structured to truly support you — not drain your energy.
Your business (like mine) is probably a lot smaller than a corporate business. But it can be helpful to get an idea of what a corporate business structure looks like. When you’re building a team, you want to think about these traditional roles. And then use that as a foundation to create your own unique type of team.
For example, if you check out this image, it’s a pretty typical corporate business structure. Your business isn’t going to look exactly like this, but it can be a guideline to follow. It might be helpful to think about your team in this type of hierarchical layout.
Let’s dive into the types of people you’re definitely going to want to add into your own structure.
Role #1: The CEO (Chief Executive Officer)
Okay, you don’t really need to hire this person, because it’s you! You’re the CEO of your business. But it’s crucial to include yourself when thinking about the structure of your business…because you’re pretty freaking important! 💁🏻♀️
You’re also going to want to think about the specific ROLE that you take on in your business.
- What does being the CEO mean?
- What does that look like for you?
- Who are you directly in charge of?
- Which team members support you?
- Who reports to you? Who doesn’t?
Do You Want or Need a Vice President?
In my business, I consider my husband my Vice President. We make a lot of the important decisions together, and I eventually added him on as part-owner of the LLC.
Having a VP isn’t necessary, but I wanted to have one in my business. My husband has always been really involved and I consider him an integral piece of my team. It just felt right that he have his own specific role and title. He does a lot of “Vice President”-like things when we work together. In particular, I love that he can take care of things if I’m super busy or having a rough day. He will make the executive decision to “handle” something — and it will get done or responded to without me knowing it. It’s really helpful that he’s there to do stuff like that. And now, he officially has the power to make those decisions as my official Vice President.
Role #2: The COO (Chief Operating Officer)
In the online entrepreneurial and small business world, this is what is typically known as an online business manager. This person is in charge of all the operations of your business — the systems, processes, and workflows that make your business run like a well-oiled machine. If you don’t have these systems in place yet, an OBM can usually help you create them.
The behind-the-scenes of your business is where an OBM thrives. You and her will work very closely together to make sure your business is running smoothly. They can also help you manage other people on your team, and can often help hire new team members as well.
A Note on Project Managers
Although the terms Online Business Manager (OBM) and Project Manager (PM) often get used interchangeably online, they are actually quite different.
An OBM is someone who works with you long-term in your business. They are typically in charge of all the details of everything, including the day-to-day management of tasks and workflows. A PM is usually a contractor who comes into your business for a short-term project (like a launch) and they only manage that one project. Or they may manage several similar projects.
If you have frequent launches or big projects, you may want to keep a dedicated project manager on staff to manage them. Or you might also need one if you offer project management as a service to your clients, and want to be able to delegate that to someone on your team. (Or they could do both!)
Role #3: The CFO (Chief Financial Officer)
While we don’t use the term CFO in the online business world a ton, this role is likely going to be filled by your bookkeeper or CPA. Sometimes those jobs are done by the same person. Otherwise, you will usually work closely with your bookkeeper and then outsource your taxes to your CPA once per year, or however often you need to file. You can also have an official CFO, especially if your business is larger. But most 6-figure businesses that I have seen typically just have a bookkeeper and a CPA.
I will say that CPAs are usually contractors and don’t often consider themselves a part of your team, while bookkeepers are usually much more involved in the day-to-day running of your business. We work with our CPA once a year when filing our taxes, but I talk to my bookkeeper almost every day! As your business grows, you may find that your CPA takes a bigger role in your business.
On my team, I definitely consider my bookkeeper basically like a CFO (and we pay her extra for that!). My bookkeeper runs all of the finances and manages the dollar bills that are moving through my business every day. She is kept apprised of my products and upcoming launches. She helps me budget, manage my personal and business accounts, and pay subcontractor invoices. It’s definitely a close personal relationship, and she’s an important part of my business.
If you have a larger business/team, you may have 3 roles: CFO, bookkeeper, CPA.
Role #4: The Manager/Director
This person on your team is super important. When you’re building a team, you’ll really want to figure out whether you want to be the one actually managing all of the individual team members, or if you’ll want help doing that. Often, it starts out with you managing everything. But as your business grows, you realize that you don’t have time for everything (which is the point of having a team in the first place!).
Ideally, this person should work really well with others. They’re responsible for wrangling all your team members together, and that can be a super tough job! It’s almost like they’re the mini HR department of your business.
Right now, my OBM also serves as my Team Director. She is in charge of keeping my team members on track and on time. She also delivers constructive criticism and helps me work with my team members if there is an issue with quality or performance. While she doesn’t fire people for me (I chose to do that myself), you definitely could have your Team Director handle that if you wanted to, especially if your team starts to get really big.
Because I work with clients, my Team Director is also responsible for double-checking all work done by team members and then passing it along to me if it needs my direct attention. I like to have everything (especially important stuff) double-checked three times — once by the team member, once by the Manager, and finally another time by myself.
Role #5: The Customer Service Manager
This is the person on your team who is in charge of solving client problems as they arise. They are usually a big part of the front-end of your business, with direct access either to your email or your ticketing system (or both, depending on how your business is set up).
Your customer service manager will be in charge of handling any issues that your current customers and clients might have. This might be stuff like updating billing information, granting access to materials, and answering simple questions. They will also help discern between small problems they can deal with themselves and bigger problems you need to address yourself, almost like a virtual “gatekeeper.”
When thinking about personality traits you’ll need when building a team, you’ll want your customer service manager to be extroverted and good at “running with things.” Although you may want to put together some customer service SOPs and FAQs for them to refer to, a lot of customer service issues that happen are one-offs. This person will need to be able to think quickly and handle the problem without needing to notify you or ask you questions constantly. But they also need to be self-aware enough to realize when something is too big, complex, or important for them to handle on their own.
Ideally, this person should also be pretty good at tech. They may need to fix problems by adjusting things in your email service provider or invoicing software. So they’ll need to be familiar with those tools in order to help solve problems.
Role #6: The Social Media Manager
The social media manager is a really important role on your team. When delegated correctly and to an experienced worker, this person will basically be in charge of the entire virtual face of your business. They will need to deeply understand your branding and target audience, and be able to capture your voice perfectly.
When you’re just getting started building a team, you may want to save money by creating the majority of your social media content yourself. Then, you can simply hire someone to organize and schedule all the content for you.
As your business grows and eventually has a bigger budget, you may not have time to create all the content yourself. Or you might want to focus a lot more on growing your account vs. just posting regularly. For either or both of these things, you’ll need an experienced social media manager, which can be fairly expensive (but worth it!).
My packages for growth-focused social media management start at $700/month per platform. If you have someone working with multiple platforms or doing super custom strategy or engagement…that’s going to cost even more. Check out Pierce Social’s page here to see her chart that does a good job of outlining the range of management types.
Role #7: The Technical VA
The Tech VA is like your virtual first response team. The most important things to look for in a tech VA is (1) their availability and response, and (2) their experience/know-how.
When it comes to experience, an important quality for your tech VA to have is being able to figure things out that they don’t know how to do. It’s common to have tech problems randomly crop up that are totally out of the box and weird. They should be able to easily identify a fix and help you solve the problem very quickly, even if they’ve never dealt with the specific circumstance before.
This is a role I was willing to pay big bucks for when building a team for my business. And typically you’ll need to because of the required skills and timing needs. If your website breaks, you need someone who will fix it NOW, not in 72 hours.
As my team grew, I eventually hired two different tech people for my team. One team member helps with complex web development tasks. The other tech team member is in charge of smaller projects like scheduling emails and formatting blog posts.
Role #8: The Graphic Designer
Especially if you aren’t very good at graphics yourself, bringing on a dedicated graphic designer when you’re building a team is pretty important. Your graphics are going to be one of the first things people see when they first discover you.
The look and feel of your social media feeds, Facebook ads, and website design are super important for making an amazing first impression on people. It’s really hard to make a sale when your content doesn’t look as professional as it should. It makes you look unprofessional, too, even if you’re not.
A graphic designer should be able to take your vision and turn it into reality. If you describe something to them, they should be able to create what you are picturing in your head. They should also be able to create graphics that match your branding and vision.
It’s also important for a graphic designer to be (1) open to criticism and reworks, and (2) creative. Graphics can be really finicky. It may just be me, but I’m constantly going back to my designer and requesting small changes. You want someone who can take your edits and create a polished end product. Ideally, this person should also bring a fresh perspective to the table and keep up with modern design trends.
If the only graphics-related tasks you have are for social media, sometimes a social media manager can do that for you, too! Personally, I have a lot of other graphics-related tasks that aren’t specific to social media…like sales page creation, logo development, and PDF design. So we have a dedicated graphic designer that sometimes works hand-in-hand with our social media manager, but also has other projects, too.
Role #9: The Copywriter
Similar to the graphic designer, your copywriter needs to fully understand your brand and be able to create new elements that fully capture your voice and style. Your copywriter, more than any other team member, should have a very deep understanding of your target market, your products, and your business as a whole. They need to be able to take that information and create compelling copy that works to make sales!
When it comes to building a team, there are really two types of copywriters you can hire. The first is a general copywriter, who is best at things like social media posts, newsletters, and blog posts. This person should understand your voice and can take an outline and run with it. But they don’t need to actually sell anything with their words. The other type specializes in creating copy for sales-focused materials such as sales pages, ads, and email sequences.
You may be able to find a copywriter who does both, but typically the rates are quite different between these two types of writers (a sales-focused “direct response” copywriter is more expensive). So you may be better off having both types on your team (that’s what I do!).
Again, if the only copywriting you need is for social media, a social media manager can often do that, too! But if you need other types of things written, you may want to have someone who specializes JUST in copywriting.
Role #10: The Administrative Assistant
Although I’ve left this role to be the last on my list, an administrative assistant is still very important. Often, it’s one of the first roles people hire for! An administrative assistant (also called a virtual assistant or VA) is someone who focuses on small, simple tasks you don’t have time for.
My VA does things like creating spreadsheets, data entry, file organization, transcription, etc. I actually work with someone on Upwork for this role. Often, these tasks are something like dozens (or hundreds) of links being copied over to a spreadsheet. I simply can’t justify paying someone a ton of money on that. But I also do not have time to spend hours on this type of task myself. So I hire someone from overseas to take care of these small, time-consuming tasks. She does a great job!
A Note on Using Upwork When Building a Team
In general, I don’t recommend using Upwork when building a team. It’s sometimes hard to find good-quality work on there. I also like to “pay it forward” by hiring other U.S.-based entrepreneurs who charge at a higher rate. But I’m pretty good at delegating and purposefully go in with low expectations. So Upwork has been a great asset for me when it comes to certain types of tasks.
Other tasks that aren’t quite so easy, I give to a different VA who is more expensive and experienced. There are certain things I just don’t want messed up. So I’d rather be safe and give those tasks to someone I really trust and can rely on.
Obviously, if you are just starting with building a team, you probably don’t have the budget or capacity to bring on 10 new team members all at one time. And even if you did, I wouldn’t recommend it, as it would be really overwhelming to train them all!
This is more of a guideline for the crucial type of team members you will eventually need in your business as you’re building a team. And you might even need multiple people who work within the same role (i.e. two graphic designers).
You may also find as you are building a team that there are additional roles you need to fill. I didn’t include these in my list, as I think they are less crucial, but these could include:
- Facebook ads manager
- Video editor
- Any other specialty experts your business might need!
You could also expand on or break apart the above roles. For example, by having multiple people who focus on social media — one person for each channel.
Hopefully, this list will get you started and be a good guideline to follow as you are building a team.