The Who, When, Why, and How of Building a Team to Scale Your Personal Brand
You may be the face of your personal brand, but that doesn’t mean that you have to be your marketing and promotions manager, content developer, software engineer, website creator, publicist, social media manager, agent, and legal counsel. Even Hollywood’s elite celebrities and social media influencers are backed by behind-the-scenes teams of staff members who make their lives look effortless, and the same is true for some of the top personal brand leaders in the nation.
As you move through the growth phase of your personal brand development, you will inevitably reach a tipping point where you’re no longer able to act as a one-man-band.
To efficiently scale in a way that will allow you to serve your clients, prospect new business, lead your industry as a thought leader, and manage your digital identity, you’ll need a team of staff members to help you make it all possible. To help you build your dream team (think The Avengers—or The Justice League if you’re more DC than Marvel), read on to learn why, how, when, and whom to recruit as part of your personal brand leadership team.
What Does it Mean to Scale Your Personal Brand?
When people talk about scaling, don’t confuse the concept with growing. To scale, it is all about right-sizing your operations to optimize for continual efficiency and success.
Scaling means being able to transition from managing three clients to thirty, handling one speaking engagement a month to once per week, or offering one service to five.
Without scale, you’re only taking on more clients, work, or commitments than you can reasonably service at a high level, which means you’re likely to disappoint your customers.
Why Personal Brands Need Teams to Scale and Sustain
It may seem counterintuitive to add team members to your personal brand-; after all, your brand is you. You’re a single entity. But while your network of fans and followers care about your advice and guidance, and you as a person, the reality is that no one—not even the most successful celebrity personal brands—have the resources and skills to handle every aspect of what it takes to run and scale a business.
Nor should you. The more time you spent trying to add calls-to-action to your personal brand website and build your social media network, the less time you have for one-on-one client meetings, conference speaking engagements, and writing your memoir. Those moments when you leverage your knowledge and skills—what you do best—are the moments you need to be cultivating as you grow your personal brand from six to seven figures.
When to Add Members to Your Personal Brand Management Team
You’ll know the time is right to add members to your team when the pace of your popularity and prospect interest exceeds the amount you can physically get done in an eight hour day, and you have the capital to support external help.
Keep in mind, however, that when it comes to cash flow, you should always pay yourself first and ensure your operating expenses are covered before you commit to salaries or even freelance contracts.
When growing your personal brand, your two most finite resources are time and money.
Money is the one you’ll want to safeguard more carefully, which means you’ll only want to add staff members when you’re confident that you can accommodate their costs
You can always consider flexible payment options in the early stages of your growth if you need help but are struggling to hire the quality talent you need based on your budget. Such payment terms may include:
- Stock options
- Deferred compensation plans
- Trade for services
- Unpaid or minimum wage internships from reputable college and university students
- Part-time staff positions
- Support from talented family and friends (that means your brother-in-law who is a proven website developer at a marketing agency and is willing to help you on the side—it does not mean your other brother-in-law who is a bartender but has seen commercials for Wix and wants to give website development a try)
Who to Add to Your Personal Brand Management Team
In a survey of 101 start-ups, researchers identified that 23 percent of the time, the reason why the start-up failed was that they had built the wrong team. This statistic proves why it’s vital to choose the right people whose goals, beliefs, and values align with your own, and have the talent to set your personal brand apart from the competition.
Just as you work to scale your business, you’ll need to scale your team.
That means slowly adding team members as onboarding time and cash flow allow. Start with your most considerable area of need.
The first person you hire should have the skills to complete a critical element of your operations that you are not able to manage yourself. This tactical area may include personal website design and development, graphic design, or public relations.
Since there will be a financial implication to hiring staff members, focus on elements of your business that can help you to network, grow, fill your prospect pipeline, and convert sales.
With this approach to prioritizing hires, the cost of adding a team member should be at least partially offset by their ability to help you convert sales and boost revenue.
As you find success with each team member you onboard—and by success we mean, you as a team are collectively moving your personal brand goals forward—strategically add on additional staff where needed. As you add more team members, you should be able to rely on your existing staff to help onboard new additions, making it less time-consuming for you to integrate each new hire.
When thinking about the vital roles that you will need to fill to grow your personal brand, consider:
- Traditional marketing
- Website design and development
- Graphic design
- Social media management
- Public relations
- Accounting and finance
- Product and service design and development
- Business consulting
- Software engineering
- IT support
- Customer service
Choose Team Members Whose Values Align with Your Personal Brand
When choosing new members for your team, remember that not only should you select someone who is a master of their craft, but you must choose someone who understands and appreciates your values and unique offering. For example, if you are a faith-based leadership coach, you may want to consider hiring someone who shares your beliefs. It will be easier for him or her to bring value to your business model if he or she understands and fully appreciates your pedagogy. Such team members will also be more likely to remain with you long-term compared to someone merely looking to piece together odd-jobs for businesses to which they are not personally invested.
Choose Experts who Have Helped Grow Other Personal Brands
There are aspects to personal brand development that do not align with corporate brand strategies. A study of 95 Dutch start-ups found that a shared entrepreneurial spirit and vision are invaluable to small start-up team success. From graphic design to photography to website design to public relations, you’ll want to choose tactical experts who understand how to leverage their skills to turn a person into a platform.
This approach is especially important when hiring someone to design your personal brand website. Click here to learn why.
Build a Diverse Team
Not only do you want to choose team members who appreciate your personal brand, but you will also want to build a team that reflects the diversity of your followers and fans. All brands of all sizes in all industries need to develop teams of staff members with diverse backgrounds, ethnicities, opinions, and perspectives. Such dynamics will ensure you are making decisions for your personal brand using diversified input and feedback. With a homogeneous team, your personal brand development strategy may be at risk of blind spots in cultural, generational, or social sensitivities. To achieve the greatest success, seek and achieve balance in viewpoints and knowledge.
Say Goodbye Quickly When it’s Not the Right Fit
With a small team, you can’t risk someone not handling an equal amount of responsibility. You will all need to collaborate and be responsible for meeting deadlines and achieving goals. With a small team, it will be easy to tell if one member is not meeting expectations, completing work on time, or treating others with respect and courtesy.
If someone you hired isn’t working out after the first few months, and you’ve previously spoken with them about your concerns, and they still aren’t producing the results you need, then remove and replace them on your staff. Letting a team member go can be difficult when your team is small, and you feel bonded to those who stepped up to work with you in your early growth phase.
To be an effective leader and scale with the most ease, you need the highest talent that is committed to your long-term strategy. By cutting the cord on an underperforming team member early, you will save yourself time, stress, and capital. Even if you spend three months with a gap on your team while you find a replacement, you will be better off without the negative impact of someone depleting team morale and progress.
Final Advice: Let Your Team Do What They Do Best
If you are transitioning from a do-it-yourself model to managing a team, it may be tempting to micro-manage—ehem—we mean, be heavily involved in their oversight. We understand. After years of leading your personal brand, it can be hard to turn over your brand—your identity—to anyone else. For this reason, our final advice to you is this: trust the process.
If you have hired the right talent, that buys into your service model and respects you and your offering, then they will work well on your behalf. Let them do what they do best and focus instead on continuing to earn a following of thousands (or millions) whose lives you can improve with your unique perspective and insights.