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The Art of People-ing : How to Get the Right Support for Your Business

freelance management Feb 15, 2024

Many of my clients successfully scale to a point where bringing on team members seems the obvious next move. But rarely is rapidly assembling a team the right path forward. 

Many solopreneurs love the actual work of what they do, and when they’re told to “scale,” they can often shift into the role of “people-ing,” or just managing people, instead of doing what they love.

People-ing is an art requiring thoughtfulness if we hope to build work that nourishes us rather than drains us dry.

People-ing was coined by Rachel Everington, Founder and CEO of The Executive Ninja, on my podcast. Rachel built a multiple six-figure virtual assistant and executive assistant agency from the ground up. She knows a thing or two about the trials and triumphs of delegation and people management!

Scale on Your Terms

In my early days as a freelancer, I got swept up in society’s narrative around business growth: outsource and delegate the work you once enjoyed, hire a team, sit back, and watch the passive profits roll in! But after witnessing countless entrepreneurs assemble teams only to re-discover their passion for “doing,” I proceeded more cautiously.

Proceeding with caution doesn’t mean doing everything yourself and holding your business in stasis instead of growing as a human alongside it. One of the most essential skills of successful entrepreneurs is consistently evaluating what we should be doing over time and eliminating or outsourcing the parts of our businesses that aren’t our highest-impact work. 

Rachel offered sage advice for solopreneurs pondering what to outsource and what to keep:

“Really understand what you want to outsource, what you like-ish and what you hate...keep the love. Just because you love and are good at executing doesn’t mean you fail.”

This intentionality is the key to scaling on our terms. Scale can mean outsourcing whatever we don’t love so that we can be more focused on our clients; it can mean outsourcing so that we work less and spend more time with our families; it can mean outsourcing client work so that we can build an empire of one.

The crucial difference is that we get to choose—how our businesses “scale” doesn’t have to look like anyone else. If all we’re doing is chasing money and others’ definitions of a successful business, we’ll fail every time.

Fractional vs. Full Time

In our modern world of remote work and with a freelance workforce that is growing rapidly both in numbers and professionalism, the decision to find fractional support for your solopreneur empire is easier than ever.

Most solopreneurs start their delegation journey with contractors who help them with specific needs (e.g., a graphic designer, bookkeeper, copywriter). The next step is often adding a virtual or executive assistant to assist with the administrative aspects of running a business.

Two critical mistakes can happen at this stage: 1) You build a team of contractors but treat them like “the help;” 2) You build a team of contractors but treat them like employees.

A team of fractional contractors is still a team. Treat them like trusted comrades rather than nameless vendors because these people are freelancers and business owners in their own right; they aren’t employees. You interact with a team of contractors as peers, not as an employee that you are responsible for “leading” and “developing.”

On the flip side, if you’re hiring full-time people who are not freelancers in their own right, then you are on the precipice of having employees, which is a totally different ball game. Plenty of well-meaning business owners fall into this trap, where they’re on the fence between contractor and full-time employee and end up doing a disservice to the people supporting them.   

Be upfront and transparent with your people about their role and how it fits into the vision for your company. True freelancers want to come alongside you and not be micro-managed, whereas bringing on full-time staff means you are now responsible for co-creating a business that gives everyone what they need.

Dreaming Bigger

Freelance and fraction support are vital for a growing solopreneur business. We cannot get better and more focused on our Work in the world if we’re not consciously curating what we do and delegating the rest.

“What are YOU trying to accomplish? Do you have Whos in your life that gives you the perspectives, resources, and ability to go beyond what you could do alone? Or are you keeping your goals so small to make them easier to accomplish on your own?”

― Dan Sullivan

Your decision to outsource and delegate should be determined by what will grow a business that still gives you everything you need as a human, not just what will allow you to make more money.

The right type of support will allow you to dream bigger about what your business can accomplish—instead of feeling limited by solopreneurship, the right partners will help us move past our limiting beliefs to build our empire of one.


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