Photo by Pearl

Starting a business is difficult – you have your customers, plans for growth and cash flow to worry about, not to mention the daily stresses that come with running a company – but one of the most difficult things about being an entrepreneur or small business owner is building a strong team.

All of this only becomes more challenging when in creative fields. Whether you’re the Creative Director of your own agency or a partner at an architecture firm, hiring in a design-focused field means more than choosing someone simply based on their experience or interview skills – though that matters. It means choosing team members based on their talent, and potential to grow within that talent. It’s difficult to say the least.

As the Founder and Creative Director of DesignGood and DesignGood Studio, I’ve put in 12 years of work as an agency owner and 17 years as a designer. In my experience, I’ve learned this: Whether you’ve started multiple companies or are a first-time entrepreneur experiencing your first period of growth, there are a few things that are necessary to know about building a strong team to support you in your business or organization. Here are 6 favorites:

01 | Champion “weaknesses”

We hate to break it to you, but you’re never going to find the perfect employee – he or she doesn’t exist because there’s no such thing as the perfect person. We all have strengths and weaknesses, so the key to building a strong team is learning to let employees work where they are most comfortable. While some employees will no doubt thrive holding large meetings or presentations, others might be terrible public speakers, but excel at project management and detail. The key is to allow your employees to be just comfortable enough that they’ll be able to produce their best work. Rather than forcing them through their weaknesses, focus on the strengths and move the other work elsewhere. Which brings me to the next point…

02 | Distribute the weight

As your business grows and you begin to build your team, you need to make sure you evenly distribute the weight of your talent. Balance one team member’s strengths or personality differences with another to make sure you have a team that’s balanced not only in skill set, but also in personality. For example, let’s say you have two account managers – one is excellent at powering through projects, and another excels at client communication. Both are valuable in their own way, and together they form a powerhouse team.

03 | Think it through

The saying goes “Hire slow, fire fast” and while we do generally find that to be a good motto to follow, there are some exceptions. Fire fast if you’re sure the employee in question is a poor fit for your business, but make sure you’ve given the decision the weight it deserves. Think about your plan for action once the employee is gone. Who will cover the work before someone else is hired? And how long will that hiring process take?

04 | Think (and speak) positively

Let’s be honest, when was the last time you complimented an employee or co-worker on their performance? This is an important and often overlooked aspect of team building. Giving your employees mindful, constant encouragement is important. Let them know what they’re good at, and what they’re doing right. And on that note, have a little faith in your employees. Giving ownership to employees at all levels and letting them know that you trust them to make decisions will lead to happy, proactive employees.

05 | Write it down

Whether you have one employee or 100, work in a traditional office space or with a team of remote freelancers, the importance of solid processes can not be stressed enough. The DesignGood and DesignGood Studio teams use Harvest for time tracking and Asana for project management – both of these tools are lifesavers for us. Putting sold organizational foundations in place will help you detail your processes, making hiring easier in the future and will help your employees to feel connected to the company.

06 | Love to learn

The opportunity to learn is one of the best gifts you can give an employee. Not only are you providing your staff with new skills that will benefit your business, but providing learning opportunities to your employees – whether it be through conferences or online courses and workshops – boosts morale and will help employees to feel good about their work and personal growth rather than stagnant cogs in a wheel.

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Need help growing your business? At DesignGood Studio, we work with brands of all sizes to help them take the next steps towards growth and development – whether it’s through brand development, marketing assistance or design work. Find more here.