Most entrepreneurs and artists have one very important thing in common: we like to be in control.
We’re good at what we do and we’re fearful that handing over the reins to anyone else will not only cause us to be fraught with anxiety, but have the potential to bring everything we’ve worked so hard for down in a fiery explosion, with just one tiny little mistake.
As someone who likes to be in control (no shame here!) I get it. When I started my first entrepreneurial journey in 2009, a music blog aimed at raising the profiles of emerging artists, it took me years to bring anyone onto the team. Day after day I would write every article myself (and in those days, there were 15-20 posts per day).
When I finally brought other writers and team members on, I continued to struggle with letting go of control, insisting that I be the one to hit “publish” on a post, or having to triple check everything.
Years later, when I started Muddy Paw PR, I had to learn the same lesson all over again. This time it only took a year, but still—think of all the time, energy, and resources I wasted. Just because I couldn’t let go—even when I knew better.
Even when I knew that doing so would give me the energy to focus on the tasks that would push me forward, rather than working so hard just to maintain.
I’m not saying there isn’t a point in time—especially in the early days—when we don’t need to buckle down and work extra hard to create a foundation. But learning when it’s time to let go, accept help, and focus on the things that bring you closer to your desired reality is an art, and it all starts with learning how to delegate and accepting that we can’t do it all alone.
Outsource the things you don’t like doing or aren’t good at
Most of us have a core set of strengths and weaknesses—things we’re naturally good at, and things we aren’t. We also have more than a few tasks that light us up inside, and others that slowly suck our soul from us.
Sometimes these things overlap—you’re really good at something, but it eats your ambition. Or maybe you do don’t mind doing something, but it’s really not a great use of your creative abilities. Those tasks, as well as ones you just don’t like doing or know you’re bad at, are the ones that you should be looking to outsource.
Sometimes these will be one off tasks—hiring someone to write your bio or design your website. Other times, they’ll be ongoing assignments, like hiring someone to help with emails, social media, or graphic design.
List out your pain points and then figure out who you can bring on to help with those tasks. Depending on what it is, this might even be a great job for a street team rather than a newly hired team member.
Note: Anything that lights you up inside—even if it’s a task someone else could do—is something you should always keep. It’s incredibly important to fill your day with the things that excite you, bring joy into your life, and keep you motivated. The goal here is to fill your days with more of that kind of thing, not less.
Find team members you can trust—and then actually trust them
One of the most stressful parts of this process (beyond letting go of control) is to find and hire team members that you trust. Now when I say trust, I don’t just mean that they can do the task set to them. I mean you trust them in not only their abilities to follow directions, but you trust that they truly understand your brand, vision, and what you’re going for. This is key, because it’s the difference between someone who just produces what they’re given, and someone who helps you grow by adding in their own ideas that help serve and grow your goals.
Part of the key to this is finding someone who not only believes what you believe and who understands your brand, but who actually enjoys what they do.
Believe it or not, there are people out there who really love doing the thing you hate. Your dislike of social media is someone else’s playground. Your inability to put together a cohesive marketing plan is what someone else stays up at night thinking about.
Find the person who not only loves and buys into what your brand is all about, but who can bring their unique set of skills into the mix, and you have yourself an ideal candidate.
Set them up with training (that you can use over and over)
Once you’ve found your team members, you’ll need to invest a little time training them in their tasks. This isn’t much different than working with a street team, so consider it a vital learning experience. Depending on what you have them doing the process will vary but for instance, having all your social media handles in one place (for a social media manager) or your branding visions and goals in a doc (for a publicist or marketing team member), all your photos in one Dropbox folder, etc, will be a tremendous help.
If you’re bringing on someone who is going to be doing more hands on tasks such as putting together your mailing list or managing the merch page of your site, you might want to put together a quick video showing them how everything works on the tech side. It will make the transition process that much smoother, and you’ll have it for future team members.
Include them in your visions
There’s something to be said for making sure the people you’re working with are having a good time. The more included people feel in your vision and your day-to-day, the harder they’re likely to work for you, and the stronger bond you’ll create. Which means—a better product and a more successful growth trajectory.
It might seem silly to say “make sure your graphic design person is having fun” but what that really means is, don’t just bark orders at the person you’re working with, make sure they feel included in the process and again, trust them.
Ask them what they think of your ideas. If they have any of their own. Let them experiment with their own ideas/processes, and be open to hearing them. After all, you did hire them for their expertise!
Don’t forget the feedback!
This sounds simple, but don’t forget to offer ongoing feedback to your team members. It’s easy to tell them what they’re doing wrong, but it’s just as (if not more) important to praise them for great work, a fun idea, or something that inspired you. The more included and appreciated they feel, the more productive the project.