We Are Hiring – If you are interested in a 2 month internship(paid) working at our office please see this job description and apply!
This post is to try and share what I have learned building multiple teams online and a recent review of my business teams revealed some of my failings (which I share below).
There is a common question I get about how do I manage to get so much done…. The fact is “I” don’t.
In reality within my business I don’t do many of the day to day tasks. The majority of my day is reviewing reports, weekly one on one meetings with my managers, writing these posts, talking with clients, strategy for clients and coming up with new business ideas is the majority of my non-email work week.
For every new project I look to setup a team, sometimes this isn’t possible and I do most of the activities myself (IE my initial FBA business). But for the most part the benefit I have seen from using a team has been huge and one of my key questions when evaluating new projects is who am I going to work with on that project.
This post is going to focus on how I go about building and setting up a team for a new project whether it is existing team members or new people I am partnering with.
In addition, I will go into examples of some of my teams and the failures I have recently identified in my business.
Plus I will wrap up with 5 steps anyone can take to get their business setup with an efficiently functioning team!
The #1 Book The Shaped My Thinking Around Team Structure for Businesses
The most important book that changed the trajectory of my business was E-Myth revisited.
This book was significant enough that it was the audiobook I chose to re-listen to on my final drive from where I (used to) work to my families hometown.
A central theme of that book is that for every business(or project) there are 3 key “people” involved in the business…
In many businesses the same person wears multiple hats but in most businesses that have a large amount of success these positions are held by specialists.
For my own businesses/projects when I review the team structure for each key project it clearly shows which businesses are setup in this way and which businesses are not.
What is most telling is that the businesses that are not are the ones that are having more challenges than the others.
A Hidden Benefit of Playing the Entrepreneur Game as Part of a Team
The hidden benefit of tackling projects in a team structure is the desire to not let people down. When I am working with a team structure and I know that me completing a task is holding someone else up I feel more responsibility to get it done. This team structure helps fight the often death of any new project… the owner getting very interested and then once the interest starts to drop off people often let projects die. Having a team is one of the systems I like to put in place to ensure a project has the best chance of success given the eventual dip or loss of enthusiasm.
Examples Of How I Setup My Teams:
Below is several of the online projects I have and how well they fit into the structure (Entrepreneur / Manager / Technician) discussed above and in E-Myth Revisited.
ListingEagle.com is a software as a service web app for amazon FBA sellers wanting to monitor their listings for any hijacker activity.
Here is how the team is setup for this business…
- Entrepreneur – Jon
- Identified the idea, assembled the key team members/partners/affiliates and funded the development and responsible for overall direction of the business (with input from the team).
- Runs the weekly one on one meeting with the manager of the business to review metrics and direction.
- Manager – Ian
- Responsible for the metrics of the business completing (or assigning to a technician) the various day-day operational activities (support tickets, paid traffic, outreach, social etc).
- Reviews business metrics (with an awesome SAAS dashboard he built) at a weekly 1:1 1hr meeting
- Technician – Shane / Ian
- The absolutely critical technical role for this project was Shane who developed the tool which continues to perform extremely well!
- In addition there are many other “technician” type activities that Ian is responsible for managing and handling only as long as necessary to develop an SOP to get it off of his plate.
This setup is one of the best examples and the most clear demonstrations of how I like to build a team.
So far it has been working extremely well with everyone focused on their core strengths and appreciative of having someone else taking care of the tasks that they are both not as good at or enjoy as much.
The structure of this team has helped it beat out competitors and start working its way to be the default tool for Amazon FBA Sellers wanting to monitor their listings for hijackers.
New Authority Site:
This project involves working with my key team lead to develop a site she is a partial stakeholder in.
For people looking to build an authority sites this setup could be instructive
- Entrepreneur – Kelley / Jon
- This project is a little unique where Kelley (project manager at LightningRank) is setting the plan with me only advising and tweaking the vision and strategy.
- Manager – Kelley
- Kellley is responsible for all metrics of this business and it gets reviewed with myself at our weekly one on one call.
- Technician – Distributed team
- For all the different tasks the jobs are assigned to the appropriate technician on our team. Content to the writers, content publishing to those technicians and much of the higher touch outreach work is being done by Kelley herself.
Most times authority sites are being executed by one person with only a little support from specialised technicians. This model with the manager reporting to the entrepreneur to provide direction and accountability seems to be working very well.
Another way to achieve a similar benefit is to work with a coach or mastermind group to help hold each other accountable.
I am currently consulting with one client and we are definitely seeing both the benefit of the accountability and separation of the manager and the technician working well.
LightningRank.com SEO and Backlink Services
LightningRank.com is my main services arm of my online business where we provide world class PBN site creation at unbeatable prices and links from my own very high powered PBN.
This business has a lot of customer contact with each order being handled by Kelley.
- Entrepreneur – Jon
- Setting vision and testing out all strategies on personal sites.
- Manager – Kelley
- Handling all customer order fulfillment and order completion tracking.
- Managing all team leads
- Technician – Distributed Team
- There is a team lead for each functional task that reports to Kelley and under each of those team leads they have the authority to hire/fire as needed to hit their metrics and a QC team in place that reports to Kelley independent of the team leads.
- Key sales functions in this business are also performed by myself when appropriate.
All of the projects above are moving along well and if I contrast with a few of my projects that are having challenges it is because I have not clearly defined the appropriate team and team roles.
BrandBuilders.io Website Creation for Amazon FBA Branded and Amazon Affiliate Sites
BrandBuilders build world class websites for Amazon FBA sellers who want an off Amazon presence and Done For You Amazon Affiliate sites.
- Entrepreneur – Jon / Andrew
- Identified the opportunity, setup the key team member with serious skills (Andrew) to run the business as an entrepreneur not just manager along with establishing key relationships/marketing opportunities.
- Manager – Andrew
- Handles all orders and manages the fulfillment of customers
- Technician – Distributed Team
- Multiple people work on Andrew’s team
My team structure which is not performing as well…
My two main FBA businesses that I have a unique setup with are moving in the right direction but the momentum is shaky and it is not flowing as well as I would like.
- Entrepreneur – Jon/Investors or Jon/Partner
- Manager – Jon or Partner or Hired Expert
- Technician – Jon or VA or wife or daughter of partner or hired expert
When I contrast the businesses above which are churning away seamlessly right now with the FBA businesses which I am still battling with to get up to the operational capabilities I want to see.
Although these businesses have had both bright and not so bright spots the challenge is that progress is continually a struggle without the right structure.
Key Takeaway for My Business
The way I need to continue to advance my business is establish a well functioning team for each of my businesses.
How To Get Your Online Team Setup for Success…
If you find you might have fallen into what Michael Gerber in the E-Myth revisted calls the entrepreneurial trap and are a technician working in your business and not on it or you don’t have a team functioning as well as you would like here is a 5 step plan to get it setup for success…
- Document the activities that need to get completed in the business
- Document the procedure to complete those activities
- Create an org chart and document which position is responsible for which task
- Assign people to each position (it is ok and likely necessary to assign the same person to multiple positions)
- In the end make sure it is clear that the three roles in the business are understood and it is clear who is fulfilling that roll…
Re-listening to e-myth revisited and having an honest look at my business projects was very revealing! It was a great reminder than whenever I am setting up a team to execute a business I need to make sure the 5 steps above are completed and at a minimum there is very clear definition of who is fulfilling the Entrepreneur, Manager and Technician!
For those of you that have built online businesses have you fallen into a similar trap?
REMINDER – We Are Hiring – If you are interested in a 1.5-2 month internship(paid) working at our office please see this job description and apply!