If you run a consulting firm, you understand the value of their greatest asset- your people. Your "people" are in place to help you grow and are your employees, subcontractors, or any combination of the two. There are nuances in how you manage employees and subcontractors that will be discussed in a future article so stay tuned.
Transitioning from a solo practice to growing a team is vital to growing a business. At some point, you will have to hire or engage subcontractors in order to grow. The timing on when to do this is different for every business owner. There are risks and costs associated with hiring, training, unfortunately losing folks and having to rehire and train.
I am fortunate to have many of the same people that started working with me five years ago still with me today by applying much of what I am sharing today. My experiences are growing the nonprofit consulting and grant writing firm Think and Ink Grants (www.thinkandinkgrants.com), however the insight I am sharing today can apply to any service based business:
1. Download your thoughts and apply them to your business. As a solo practice, much of what you do is in your head. Well, as you grow, guess what? Your employees and subcontractors can't read your mind. Get your experience, insight, and strategy out of your head and onto paper. Create training models, best practices, templates, and policies and procedures to guide your team on the standard and quality of work you want to deliver to your clients.
2. Clone yourself. Yes, it sounds impossible but it's really not. Write your job description based on several different areas of your work. This can include areas such as finance, marketing, operations, administration, etc. As you grow, these sections can be the start of job descriptions of new roles you're hiring for. Congrats! You just cloned yourself.
3. Find the right people. Find people that are attracted to your corporate culture. Learn about their goals and objectives and organically create opportunities to meet these goals and objectives while meeting your business needs. When I interview folks, I look for technical expertise, how'd the fit into Think and Ink Grants corporate culture, and diversity across race, gender, geography, disability status, veteran status, etc. I look for their "why" and see if the opportunity at hand is a good fit.
4. Speaking of culture. Create a culture where people want to work for you and thrive. Define the culture you want to have and understand that each new hire should contribute to that culture, not take away from it. Set your team up for success and they will stay with you in the long run.
Shavonn Richardson, MBA, GPC is Founder and CEO of Think and Ink Grant Consulting™. She is a grant professional, an active speaker, and serves on the Board of Directors for the Grant Professionals Association.
Shavonn earned a BBA from Howard University and an MBA from Emory University. She earned the GPC (Grant Professional Certified) credential from the Grant Professionals Certification Institute in 2020.