How to create a strong foundation in business before hiring a team!

Ya'll, this week, we are talking all about how to set the foundation to hire your team with the amazing Ashley Cox of Sprout HR! She is giving you her top 5 foundations that need to be in place in order to build the dream team you have always wanted...

Hiring a team can be an exciting - and overwhelming - time! Make sure you’re prepared with these five steps to help you create a strong foundation in your business before hiring a team.

1: Develop Systems - Systems are an important part of creating a strong foundation in your business. Especially if you plan on hiring team members.

Having systems in place ensures that you’re operating consistently day-in and day-out. They help you streamline tasks you perform regularly, whether you’re blogging, onboarding a new client, or handling a customer complaint. Solid systems allow you to save your energy and creativity for the fun stuff in business, like creating a new course or developing a new product line. And they make the day-to-day operations run a little more smoothly.

Systems are also incredibly important for onboarding and training new hires. Without systems in place, the training process can be a struggle and it’s harder to set consistent expectations with your team. Things are left to chance and best guess - which are never good when you’re trying to grow your business and your team!

2: Automate Tasks - I’ve spoken with many small business owners who felt they were ready to hire a team because they were overwhelmed. However, after chatting with them for a bit, I’ve often discovered that they’re missing some big opportunities to automate various tasks within their businesses.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed and are questioning whether now is the right time to hire a team, I challenge you to take a look at what you can automate in your business first. Here are just a few examples of processes you can automate:

  • Do you have a client management system that allows you to automate tracking leads, sending contracts and invoices, and scheduling reminder emails?
  • Are you planning and scheduling your social media posts in advance, so you’re not struggling to create new content each day (and spending hours online doing so)?
  • Have you set up sales funnels to drive traffic to your website, course, or latest product launch, so that you’re not always in sales mode?

When you automate tasks, you’ll save time now in your business and possibly delay the need to hire a team for a bit longer, saving you money, as well. Later on, you’ll save more time and money when you hire team members who can contribute in bigger ways, rather than spend their time on tasks that could already be automated!

3: Create an Operations Manual - I know, I know. This sounds so corporate-y! But hang with me for a minute. An operations manual is an important tool in setting up a strong foundation for your business before hiring a team.

Operations manuals contain the who, what, when, where, why, and most importantly HOW of your entire operations. This manual will help guide your team throughout each process that takes place in your business.

An operations manual is a place to house your systems and procedures. When you begin hiring a team, they can use this tool to refer back to when they have a question about how a task is performed in your business - without having to run to you every time to ask. That means you’ll save time on your end and that you’re empowering your new team members right from the start. A total win-win for everyone!

4: Establish Core Values - If you follow me for any length of time or you happen to know me in real life, then you quickly come to learn know how much I love to talk about core values!

This is arguably one of the most important aspects of creating a strong foundation for your business before hiring a team. Establishing core values is like defining the heart and soul of your business.

Core values help you communicate how and why you do business. They help you

  • hire team members who embrace similar values,
  • set expectations with your team on how you do business,
  • maintain consistent client service standards, and
  • aid in the decision-making process.

Can you run your business without core values? Sure. However, in my experience, it’s a train wreck waiting to happen. The more people you add to your team, the greater chance you have for things to go off course and your business to lose focus and consistency. Take some time now to consider what your most important values are in business and put them on paper!

5: Determine a Communication Plan - One of my favorite quotes is this one by George Bernard Shaw, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”

Consider that for a moment, “...the illusion that it has taken place.” What is Shaw trying to say to us here? He’s saying that we often think we’ve communicated something to another person, when in fact we haven’t. That it’s something we either think has happened or something we’ve dreamed up in our minds.

Here’s a great real-life example: Have you ever had someone not respond to a text you sent them? Later, when you ask them about why they never replied, they say, “Oh yeah! I read that text and thought I responded! I must have responded in my head. Haha!!”

When there’s a breakdown in communication on a team, that’s often what happened. Leaders think they’ve responded, or provided adequate information, when in reality they haven’t.

I get it. We have a lot going on and it’s hard to remember to tell other people everything that’s going on. Especially if you’re new to leading a team. However, I promise you that this failure to communicate clearly and often will cause you a great deal more trouble down the road than taking a few minutes to create a communication plan right now.

What goes into a communication? A little bit of forethought! Simply follow the who, what, when, where, why and how format to help you outline your communication plan:

  • Who will you need to communicate to on your team? (Hint: It’s everyone!)
  • What type of information will you need to communicate to them?
  • When will you need to communicate this information to them?
  • Where will you communicate with them? (Ex: in-person, email, phone, slack, etc.)
  • Why do you need to communicate this information to them?
  • How do you expect them to communicate with you (and what, when, where, and why!)

By taking some time now to determine your communication plan, you’ll save yourself many major headaches down the road when you begin hiring your team!

Hiring a team is more than just finding someone that you connect with, who can also perform the tasks you happen to need completed. It’s about leadership. And leadership is about being thoughtful, strategic, and planning ahead. It’s about being prepared to the best of your ability for what’s to come. Hiring and leading a team are not easy feats. Your team will look to you for direction and guidance. Will you be ready?

Are you ready to hire a team, but aren’t sure where to start? Grab your free worksheet “Who to Hire First and How Much to Budget” here! Ashley walks you through four simple steps to determine who you should hire first for your team, based on your specific needs, and how to create a budget for hiring!


Ashley Cox is The HR Partner for Creatives at sproutHR, where she helps you hire, train, and lead your thriving team, all with confidence and heart. She loves to make the scary and overwhelming parts of hiring and leading a team simple, actionable and fun, so you can feel more at ease in your business! Ashley is a dual-certified HR Professional with over 10 years of experience in Human Resources and Leadership.

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