Spring Break was a staycation for us – my 4 and 6 year old didn’t have their pod so I took the week off (sort of) and we did some home based activities. We crafted and hiked but we also did laundry and chores. Imagine my surprise when I asked the kids to fold and put away the laundry with me – and it actually took less time with their help then without! They have reached the stage where they can be truly helpful members of the household. I thanked them and marveled at how fast we got it done together and the 6 year old said, “Teamwork makes the dream work.”

It’s always great to hear me quoted back to me.

What if you don’t have a team?

As a business owner, I’m a solopreneur so I don’t often think of myself as having a team. I don’t have employees or staff. I am also Women Presidents’ Organization Chapter Chair for a group of multi-million dollar women business owners from the DC area.  They all do have teams. Together we work through the challenges and opportunities that come with growing your business. Through WPO membership, the WPO members and I have access to a wonderful resource to help.

This year, the WPO Foundation partnered with Harvard Manage Mentor to offer an online curriculum full of tools for Strategic Planning, Change Management, Leading People, and Customer Focus.  The content is top notch and as someone who just launched an online course, I envy their platform which makes it easy to learn and check progress.

Initially, I found it difficult to complete the lessons because to complete them you have to reflect and apply what you learned to your “team.”  As I said, I don’t think of myself as having a team. But I really want that certificate. So in my reflection I considered who my team truly was and realized there’s a lot more people than I thought.

Expand the definition of team

My other company, Diversity Masterminds®, is a team effort. I own it with my business partner Heather Cox.

Heather and I were comfortable referring business to one another but creating a separate entity allowed us to actually link our businesses.  Any client I refer to Heather essentially becomes a part of my pipeline for Diversity Masterminds.

For any business owners who say they need to “duplicate themselves” or “need their employees to think like owners,” I completely understand where they’re coming from. A good partner in business is like another you, but better.

Working this way also allows us to “sell our strengths and buy our weaknesses” – another key piece of advice in the business owner world. You cannot do it all – and grow. Heather and I have very different styles. In a recent interview for Diversity Professional magazine I described Heather as the Chief Enthusiasm Officer for the company and myself as the Chief Execution Officer – two CEOs with different strengths and focus.

It’s also our intention to continuously grow the company through partnerships. We started working with Ashley Martin, Leadership Lady, to offer capability statement design services and it quickly became one of our most popular offerings.

When I started completing my assessment homework for the online platform, with these partners in mind as my team, I realized there’s a lot we do well.  I also realized we can probably spend more time having strategic communication so we spend less time texting to dos.  Teamwork makes the dreamwork, but only if you communicate.

Who’s on your team?

When I talk to clients about presenting themselves to potential clients to become a part of bigger supply chains, we talk about the best suppliers actually being partners to their clients. In my (much smaller supply chain) that’s certainly the case.

Every year I write about how I’m doing with supporting diverse business owners. Just because I don’t have employees, doesn’t mean I don’t pay people to do things they are good at and I struggle with. The two biggest things are marketing , which I outsource to SocialLight and bookkeeping which I outsource to Platinum CFO.

I realized that in making my dream team work, it’s also important to communicate my strategy to my suppliers. Luckily, they set up regular time with me to let them know where I want to go and get their feedback. After all, they are the experts in their field.

Growing the team

The teamwork of these groups certainly makes the dream work. But I’m leaving out a big group which is my clients. I partner with them to help them achieve their goals and it’s always a little different. Next month, I’ll talk about how I have become a part of several different teams and how the strategy and execution is a little different for each one.