Starting your own business and becoming an entrepreneur is a path that is filled with both challenges but also evolution. Most business owners in the UK start their company as a solo venture, normally fuelled by passion and a chance to do things your way. But as business grow, so does the need to adapt.
One of the main ways that this occurs, and is one of the hardest arguably, is the shift from the mindset of a solo entrepreneur to a team leader and business owner. As of 2023, there are 3.1 million sole traders in the UK compared to 2.1 million actively trading companies.
The Solo Entrepreneurial Mindset: Where You Start
For many small business owners and sole traders, the key reason to go it alone is autonomy. The chance to take direct control of every decision means that you are writing your very own rule book. As well as giving greater freedom, it allows any small business owner to have a deep working knowledge of every aspect of the business, from business development to finance. This often provides a sense of empowerment and clarity on where they stand, both of which are real positives.
However, these do come with some hurdles. Time is finite, and no matter how accomplished a person may be, there will be some gaps in their knowledge and disciplines. By trying to do it all, many business owners find that they are stretched thin, can make mistakes in areas of the business that they aren’t familiar with, and can lead to potential burnout very quickly.
Autonomy is great, but we need to ensure that we are not sacrificing growth, relationships and our health trying to do too much.
As businesses evolve, so does the need for a broader perspective. A solo entrepreneur might miss out on opportunities simply because there's too much to manage single-handedly.
Recognising these limitations is the first step towards ensuring sustained business growth.
The Team Leader Mindset: Where You Need to Go
When you are ready to level up your business, letting go can be one of the most challenging aspects of business. That initial handover of trust and delegation can almost feel like a failure for many people. However, delegation isn’t about relinquishing control or not being “good enough”. It’s about trusting others to help bring your vision to life and understanding where your strengths and weaknesses are.
Even if you are not at the point of hiring a full team, hiring a virtual assistant can be a great place to start. A virtual assistant can manage a wide range of tasks, from administrative to personal, and there are even specialists in areas such as marketing or finance to help you out with particular parts of running a business. By using freelance experts for the areas that you are not as confident in, you can have experience without having to worry about pensions or lengthy recruitment drives.
Sitting down and identifying tasks that others, such as a VA, can manage allows you to free up time, energy and resources to areas you know will drive growth or bring the best return of your time.
Not sure where to start? Why not try this exercise?
Jot down three tasks you think that a virtual assistant can handle for your business. Then, take a look at how this would impact your own workflow. What time would you get back? What benefit would those bring?
Building & Nurturing A Team
Getting the right people involved is just the first step. Once you have someone, whether it’s an employee or a virtual assistant, it’s now a case of creating an enterprise where communication and growth are at the forefront. This isn’t necessarily easy, particularly if you’ve never done it before. However, putting in the groundwork at this stage, means that you can easily build a cohesive and motivated team.
Making sure that you are available, emotionally as well as schedule-wise, means that you can communicate effectively with your team. Look at instigating regular check-ins, feedback sessions (that are as much for you as your team), and team-building activities to promote communication and ensure that everybody is working in unison.
This doesn’t need to be done in person, either. With Zoom, Slack, Google Meet, Skype, Teams, among many other platforms, you can communicate easily anywhere in the world.
Growth Through Collective Effort
Going from a sole trader to a fully-fledged company owner offers huge opportunities for growth but also a totally different way of thinking and scaling. By setting clear goals, even with help from virtual assistants or other resources, you can make sure that your business moves in the right direction.
Remember that being a business owner means merging various skills and experiences. Tapping into these can lead to innovation and higher productivity. With a cohesive plan, achieving your business goals can be faster and more efficient than going solo. It also means that knowing when you should delegate and seek extra support is really important.
This shift in role and mindset is about seeing the bigger picture beyond individual efforts. For continued success, it's important to keep learning, and some books that are good for shifting from just yourself to a team include "The Multi-Hyphen Method" by Emma Gannon, “Deep And Deliberate Delegation” by Dave Stitt, “The Discomfort Zone” by Farrah Storr and “Act Like A Leader, Think Like A Leader” by Herminia Ibarra can provide valuable insights.
Remember, in business, growth is not just about numbers but also about adapting and moving forward. If you’re looking to take the next step, book a free consultation call with Virtalent today and discover how to start to scale.