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How To Grow From Freelancer To Remote Team

Written by on February 03, 2021

A 2020 study by Buffer showed that almost 99% of its respondents would choose to work remotely if given an option. And why not? It has many benefits for both employer and employee. Today, remote work has emerged as the new norm to combat the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

If you have been making money blogging and are looking to make the transition from freelancer to remote team manager, now is a great time. While remote work can pose some challenges, it is the perfect way to grow your business while keeping extra costs, like office rent and logistics, to a minimum. 

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Source: Flexjobs

Remote work has grown about 44% in the last five years and has been given a massive shot in the arm with the current health crisis. 

4 Signs You Need To Expand – From Freelancer To Remote Team 

No matter how good you are in your field, you cannot fill multiple roles and be in two meetings simultaneously. But how do you know when it’s time to expand your team of one?

From losing new business to not remembering the last time you took a break, there are some clear telltale signs that you need to hire a team. Let’s look at four of the most common. 

1. You are not able to take on more work

As a freelancer, you are killing it designing websites or making huge bucks blogging. But you are restricted by the number of hours in a day! Since you are filling every function, you have to divide up your time between the different roles. Sometimes, you will simply run out of hours. 

As a result of the time crunch, you may have to drop some projects or not take on new clients. If you are getting more work than you can handle, it is clear your brand is growing. Now would be the time to step up and bring in new team members so you can add more clients. 

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2. Your mistakes are piling up

What is even worse than not adding more clients? Making your current clients unhappy. As a freelancer juggling many roles, you may slip up. Mistakes happen from time to time, especially invoice related mistakes, so don’t panic if it’s only occasional – we’re all human.

When occasional mistakes start piling up to form more frequent errors, it is time to get another person on board. This will leave you to focus on one part of the business and do it well. 

3. You need someone with a specific skillset

As a freelancer, you cannot be equally good at all aspects of your business. You may be a great salesperson, but the accounts books are not for you. Or perhaps you’re a brilliant web designer, but awful with social media. As your business expands, these functions become more complex and require more attention. 

When you can clearly identify the area(s) of your business that you need help with, it is time to hire. 

take-regular-breaks-growing-from-freelancer-to-remote-team

4. You haven’t taken a break in a long time

Check your calendar to see the last time you took a break. Are you rested enough or are you running on fumes? One of the benefits of being a freelancer is setting your own hours. But if all your hours are taken up, you need to expand your team to divide the work. Otherwise, you’ll burn out.

Hiring people can help you grow your business and give you the time to create a healthy balance between work and life. In addition to his, it allows you to hire specialists that will bring a higher level of expertise to your business. 

3 Things To Keep In Mind Before Hiring Your First Remote Employee

As a freelancer, you are used to managing all the work yourself and have come to do things a certain way. Hiring your first employee can be a big step as you need to trust someone else to put in the same level of dedication and skill to help your business grow. 

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This section will see the basics that will land you the perfect first team member for your business. 

Employee Background and Work Experience 

As you sift through applications, there are three key things to look for in your first hire. The first is the relevance of the work experience or academic background of the candidate. The candidate can learn the business’s nuts and bolts on the job, but some prior knowledge can make the learning process smoother. 

Two, check if they have any experience working in small teams. As the only other member of your growing team, you need a strong team player. In a growing business, you need someone who can work in dynamic environments and pitch in for other roles in a crunch. 

The final point to consider is if they have led projects in the past. Your first hire may go on to lead your teams and help you in finding more candidates. Someone with experience in leading a group can help you shoulder the burden as you expand your remote team

Client Demands and Employee Suitability 

One of the key reasons to hire someone is to take on new projects and clients. These new projects may come with a set of tasks that require a particular skill set or role. This is why your next criteria to hire someone should revolve around what your clients need.

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Do they need a graphic designer for their next project, or perhaps require someone who can make eye-catching videos? To take on more projects, you may also realize you need a full-time project manager to handle different accounts. 

Measure your clients’ expectations against the candidate’s profile to see if they fit the brief. Since your team is still at a nascent stage, the employee will need to start delivering off the bat. This is why it is crucial to match client requirements with the candidate’s expertise. 

Salary & Legality 

The final thing to consider is the salary and employment terms. Tailor the salary range to suit your budget and industry standards. Ensure that the pay is competitive to attract the best talent. You also need to zero in on other components of compensation, including any benefits, your appraisal system, and tax considerations. 

Source: Buffer

Ensure that you keep your employee’s schedules flexible as studies have shown that the independence to set your own hours is one of the biggest benefits of working remotely. 

Dividing Work With the First Employee For Timely Delivery 

You have your first employee, now what? Put clear rules, guidelines, and productivity metrics in place. Introduce them to the different functions of your business in a staggered manner.

Here, make sure that you let them get familiar with their specific role before learning more about the other parts. 

If you have the time, it is good to start with a small assignment you can oversee. Walk them through any mistakes and ensure you maintain an open channel for communication. This initial trust-building exercise will benefit the business later.

It will set the tone for your company culture as you expand. Using tools like email templates for Gmail for client outreach will help ensure uniformity in your communication and a consistent brand voice. 

Adding New Remote Members As Clientele Grow 

As your business expands, so must your team. As you add more people to your team, there are two key things you must be clear on. First, more people will add more routes to the workflow. Ensure that there is a transparent chain of command.

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You might find it helpful to refer to MIT professor Deborah Ancona’s X-team strategy, which says that there are three tiers of team members: core, operational, and outer. Ensure that your employees are clear on their role in the organization. 

One of the critical drawbacks of remote work is the lack of a shared space that helps foster team spirit. As you add more people, make time for online team-building exercises. Here, an interactive onboarding process can help with the first round of introductions within the team. 

How To Operate As A Remote Team: Challenges

While studies estimate that more than half the U.S. workers prefer remote work, three main hurdles prevent organizations from completely embracing it. The first is a sense of loneliness and isolation from your team members.

Another study by Buffer says that about one-fifth of the remote workers cite the breakdown in communication as one of the critical drawbacks of not working together in an office: 

Source: Buffer

Therefore, make sure that you keep your team members engaged in online activities. With video conferencing platforms like Zoom gaining popularity, your next team meet is just a call away.

Good communication practices will also help you counter the second challenge of working remotely. When you do not meet your team often, new members can face a lack of trust in the organization.

In addition to keeping them engaged, ensure that your policies are transparent on crucial matters like compensation, work hours, and role specifications. 

The third challenge in working remotely is tracking the performance of your team. Ensure that the relevant key performance indicators are in place. Instead of checking up on your employees every few hours, give them clear targets such as the number of calls per day or the number of social media posts per hour.

Having key metrics helps ensure clarity in what you expect from your team members, prompting better productivity. 

mindset-shift

From Freelancer To Leader: The Shift In Your Mindset 

As a freelancer, being great at your job was enough. As your team expands, you will need to expand your set of skills to include a whole range of soft skills.

You will need to be a mediator, a good judge of character, and an emphatic manager. The stakeholders that you engage with now include employees as well as clients.

As a leader, you will have to rally your people towards your business vision. This is in stark contrast to your role as a freelancer, where you were only responsible for your own work. 

Bottomline 

As your freelancer reputation builds, there will come a time when you will have more work than you can manage. A remote team can help you prevent losing out on good projects and clients.

Invest in finding the right people and setting up practices that will keep them engaged while giving you a talented pool of workers to handle the increasing workload. 

Remote work can be a hurdle to effective communication and tracking productivity. However, with the right policies in place, you can make the transition from freelancer to remote team leader quite easily. So, what are you waiting for? Good luck with hiring your first employee!

Kashyap Trivedi is a Project Manager, working with an awesome team at Launch Space. He helps SaaS companies conquer the SERPs with Expert Outreach. When he is not working, you’ll find him playing Table Tennis or Meditating.

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