Online Business & Operations Management
Online Business & Operations Management
Crystal Coleman

Crystal Coleman

Certified Business Manager

One of my biggest pet peeves, when it comes to building a virtual team of contractors, is small business owners adopting hiring practices from the corporate world.

If you want experts, leaders & team members with entrepreneurial mindsets, then you need to think of and treat potential team members as they are: fellow business owners who will be partnering WITH you in your business.

If you’re building your team of contractors (not employees), and you’re asking them to fill in a detailed application, send a resume or CV and then wait for an interview, don’t be surprised if you hire a team of followers!

Think about it from this perspective: when you need an electrician, for example, aperson or team that has expertise in a field you need for something you need done, (let’s say, wiring in a new lighting fixture…)  how do you find them?

I’d hazard a guess that you start with a google search.  Or maybe ask your friends, “Who do you recommend for this kind of work?”

You would NOT post an ad such as:

“Looking for an electrician to wire in a new lighting fixture..  Paying $x.  To apply for this position, please send your results for these 10 personality tests, email your CV/Resume, and fill in this 5 page form.  Only candidates selected for an interview will be contacted.”

contactor ad
No self-respecting professional would give this ad a second look.  They’re busy with current clients that are happy with their work, and spending this kind of time and resources is going to be a low priority unless they are brand new or desperate for business.

Why would you treat virtual professionals in your business any differently? They too, are experts in their fields, and the good ones will expect to be treated as equals; not as employees who must prove themselves.  

The language you use when you’re expanding your team sets the tone.  It is a signal to a potential partner about your mindset around team building.

You will chase away the leaders if you expect them to follow a process designed for followers.

Build a team of Go-Getters, not Followers!

Follow this 4-Step Process to find and select a superstar team member:

For your eyes only. Don’t get caught up in making this pretty or shareable at this point. Just get this down and out of your head.

  • Get clear on the roles in your business now and for the future.
    Bonus points: define an Org Chart!
  • Why do you need this new role?  Where do you want it to go?
  • What is your budget for your team, and for this role?
  • What are the measures of success?
  • If you’re a fan of assessments, I like using Strengths Finder and the Kolbe A to help define the skillset needed for the role.  Keep in mind, assessments are fantastic tools and I recommend as a guide –  not as the absolute rule.

For every role identified in #1, write a role description.  Give it a title, even a generic one.  Then draft a one-page description outlining:

  • Define the role – the what, where, how
  • Skill Requirements  
  • Tech or Systems needed and the level of familiarity or expertise required for each
  • Approximate weekly/monthly time required for the role
  • Timezone or availability considerations.  It’s a global world!  How important is it for you that the contractor is able to attend team meetings, or respond during your business hours?
  • Decide how you’d like to collect responses.  Do you want candidates to submit an email, a form?  How should they contact you?  Is there a deadline?
    • It’s perfectly acceptable to ask potential team members to answer questions in their response to you to help gauge initial fit.  Avoid creating a multi-step process or cramming the interview-type questions and processes into this step or you will chase away the entrepreneurial-minded experts that you want to hire.
    • You may consider outlining ideal assessment profiles here, but I recommend waiting until Step #4, as a follow-up after meeting qualified prospects.
  • Reach out to your friends, colleagues, network and ASK FOR REFERRALS.  Send them the role description and instruction on how to contact you (from above).
  • Consider submitting RFPs.  If you’re not sure where to submit, ask your friends or on social media, or google search.
    • Your RFP can be created by copying/pasting your role description
    • Avoid services that require you pay to register.
  • Send an email to your list, add a page to your website/blog.  You might be surprised by how much your audience will want to help you!
  • Review the responses, ideally daily, as they arrive and rank each response.  I recommend a spreadsheet with columns for:
    • date received
    • name, business name
    • referred or cold contact
    • website/social media (you may need to research these)
    • skills match 
  • Weed out any with spelling errors or those responses that are absolutely not a match.
  • For the top 10, send an email asking a question you haven’t previously asked.  Then rank their response in terms of time to respond and quality of response
  • Invite the top 3-5 to meet via video call.  This can be 15-30 mins.
    • Be prepared to answer questions about your business.  This is an opportunity for the candidates and you to assess fit and the potential opportunity. 
    • Be careful about approaching this as an “interview”.  You’re meeting with a fellow business owner with interest to partner together.  This is a conversation!
  • After each call, write down your impressions.  This is where your gut feeling comes into play.  But also – does their communication style match yours, is this someone you want to work with?
  • Expect a follow-up after the call.    You also have an opportunity to reach out and ask questions again – do they have samples/case studies or testimonials they can share with you?
    • Record their follow-up actions – speed, quality
    • If someone is interested in joining your team, it will be common at this point to receive a formal proposal, based on your discussion.
  • If you’re ready to make a selection, you’re ready to Onboard!  If not, you can invite to another call, or correspond via email.  Don’t get lost too deep in this and delay on making a decision.
    • If you don’t feel good at this point about either accepting or making an offer, take a step back.
      • Do you need to broaden the search?  Do you need to revisit the role description?  Identify the barrier and then amend your plan of action.

Finding, selecting and onboarding the right team member is essential for scaling your business sustainably.  The investment of time and resources in the selection and onboarding phases can pay huge dividends down the road.

If you’re serious about building a team of go-getters, then you need to change your language and mindset from hiring to partnering.  You’re building a team of business owners!  Treat them as you would also like to be treated when prospecting with your own leads and clients, and I guarantee you will attract better talent.

Documenting your processes, and following a standard workflow will make this process easier to manage and measure.  Not sure where to start? Let’s Chat!

Your turn: what advice do you have for finding, selecting and onboarding rockstars to your team?

Share below!


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