Sometimes I feel a bit like a broken record because I am always telling others to “establish their team”. 

In fact, I have written on this topic several times before – for example:

– I chat about my favorite Spice Girl, and the importance of having a team, in this article published in Fresh Mag earlier this year

– I wrote about your “key people” in business on a LinkedIn post last year.

– Or see this post on LinkedIn, where I was reflecting on how to create a “Dream Team” after watching the Michael Jordan documentary

– The other day, a new business owner posed a couple great questions in response to my constant musings about “establishing your team”:

“Personally, I think that everyone needs some form of team around them at all times.  This is regardless of whether you are in business or not.  Life is hard, and community makes it easier. “

1. How do I know who needs to be on my team?

2. What if I cannot afford to have a team?

These are great questions, and it got me thinking about the fact that I keep approaching the discussion about “teamwork” from the same angle.  So this week, I want to take a new approach to the discussion… here we go!

Everyone needs a team… but that does not always mean a team of professional advisors.

Personally, I think that everyone needs some form of team around them at all times.  This is regardless of whether you are in business or not.  Life is hard, and community makes it easier. 

In the business context, I usually talk about “teams” in the traditional sense – the lawyer, accountant, financial advisor, insurance advisor, bookkeeper, marketing strategist etc.  However, in life, we also need a team – sometimes referred to as “friends”, “colleagues”, “mentors”.  Think of how many people fit into that category in your life right now.  And I guarantee that you are not paying them to be a part of your life.  You are also likely a key member of someone else’s team.

I often find that with brand new business owners, it is their “informal” team of family, friends, colleagues, and mentors that provide the initial support at the early stages of business.  These individuals are crucial in providing support such as:

– Connecting you to professionals (if and when you might need one);

– Promoting and “socializing” your business to others in the community;

– Supporting your successes and failures; and

– Acting as a sounding board for new ideas.

Your team can change over time, and with the growing needs of your business and/or life.

This concept is really important to understand.  You will have different teams throughout your life depending on your needs at the time.  That is ok.

We have all had this happen.  We have a group of friends or colleagues that we assume will be inseparable for life.  And then one person moves, or starts a family, or starts a new business and the dynamic changes.  Do not be afraid to bring new people into the team!

Consider the following example: 

Jill has decided to start a cupcake business.  She is going to begin the business out of her home and see how things go.

Initially, Jill’s “team” will likely include:

– Other bakers in the community;

– Family and friends – to support and promote the business;Maybe a local business hub (such as SquareOne in Saskatchewan) to provide basic information on permits, sales taxes etc.

But as Jill’s business starts to grow, she will realize she needs to add a few new team members:

– Maybe an accountant or bookkeeper to provide support on expense tracking and remittances;

– Perhaps an employee to help with baking;

– Maybe Jill needs to see a banker to get help with financing for expansion;

– Jill may also need to seek the assistance of someone with marketing or social media expertise to help promote her business.

Having a team means knowing who to call.

I completely understand that it is not feasible for most business owners to have a myriad of professionals on retainer at all times.  However, having a “team” means knowing that there are people you can draw upon when you need to.  For example:

– Many lawyers offer the option of offering either a free consultation, or a flat rate initial meeting option.  This gives you the opportunity to ask questions and get clarification on next steps, without having to worry about fees.

– Local business chapters often have “think tanks” or other resources available on their websites or at their locations which provide supports for small business at no cost or a reduced cost.

– Consider hiring a bookkeeper to give you advice on how to set up your systems.  Sometimes all you need is someone to come in and get you organized and then you can execute the system yourself. 

– Find communities of business owners.  Most cities have local chapters of business support organizations – these are a great way to stay up to date on changes, find out about professionals in your area, and provide a “home base” for questions or concerns.

– Reach out to find a mentor in your industry.  I am a firm believer in the power of mentorship and I always have a mentor in my life.  Do not hesitate to send a direct message/email/text to someone in your industry that you would like to know more about and ask if they have 15 mins for a phone call or discussion.  It is amazing what you can learn in 15 minutes!  Someday, you can repay the favor forward when someone asks to chat with you for a few minutes!

Happy team-building! 

P.S.  My challenge for the week is for you to send a quick note of thanks to the people that are currently on your team.  So often, we forget to pass along accolades to the people who mean a lot to us.  A simple thank you goes a long way!

Amanda is a tax lawyer practicing in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.  She is the host of “The Tax Chick Podcast” and the founder of “The Tax Chick Blog

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