How To Manage A Team | 8 Management Tips For Small Business Owners

It’s a tale as old as time (or at least as old as capitalism). You got into business because you love the service you provide & you’re passionate about the mission you’re on. 

But now that you’ve been doing this for a while, you’ve reached max capacity: you’re juggling all the balls in your business and unless you grow an extra pair of arms, you’re going to start dropping some. 

Whether you’re staring at the possibility of hiring your first employee with a mix of excitement and terror, or you’ve already got a few team members and are winging it harder than you did your last marketing campaign, this article is for you.

Keep reading, and learn how to manage a team effectively by uncovering the 8 management tips that help small business owners transform their organizations to the next level.

This is written for the entrepreneur that’s bringing on their first few team members, be that a virtual assistant, someone to deliver the service they currently provide, or a marketing manager. If you’re further along in business and already have 5+ team members, this still applies to you! The foundations often get forgotten as we grow and expand, so revisiting the key principles of how to manage a team successfully will help you fine tune what you already have so that your team can hit that next level!

You can tell a successful team from an unsuccessful one immediately. 

An unsuccessful team flies by the seat of their pants, isn’t clear on who is doing what, and is always rushing at the last minute to meet deadlines.

So, what makes a successful team? Strong leaders. 

These 8 management tips for small business owners will help you transition from solopreneur to CEO effectively, so that you know exactly how to manage a team that gets you results and feels good in the process.

As a business coach for ambitious (and overwhelmed) entrepreneurs, I often support my clients through the transition from solopreneur to CEO of a team. 

Here are the 8 things I’ve noticed make the biggest difference between business owners that love working with a team, and those that feel frustrated with managing a team.

The biggest mistake a solopreneur makes when they start working with a new team member is not establishing clear priorities.

I get it… For the longest time, you were the only one in your business, and you knew what needed to be done (for the most part 😂).

But now that you have a team member looking to you for direction, you have to get really good at deciding priorities ahead of time and communicating them to your team.

With all that goes into running a business, it can feel hard to carve out the time and headspace to establish what your priorities are and how that translates to your team. (If that’s the case for you, read this article on setting business goals & priorities).

How to manage a team

But nonetheless, to effectively manage a team, you must set clear priorities for each team member so that everyone is working toward the right things.

Ask yourself this question right now: what do you need your team to be focusing on in order to achieve your business goals for the quarter? What’s the best way for you to communicate this to them? 

If you’re not sure where you should be focusing to grow your business right now, take this personalized quiz to find out!

Setting clear expectations around what you need done, when you need it done by, and what success looks like to you is so important to set your team up for success. 

But most entrepreneurs are nervous about this!

If you’re highly cautious of not becoming “the micro-managing type”, you might fail to manage at all. 

If you’re holding back information about what you expect from your assistant when you ask them to take over your communication with your clients, you’re setting them up for a lot of frustration when they can’t meet some arbitrary standard you didn’t communicate to them. 

Don’t be afraid of telling your team exactly what you want and how you want it so that they can do their jobs well.

Ask yourself right now: Where is my team falling short of their potential? What do I need to communicate so that they can meet my expectations? 

Sometimes you bring on a team member out of desperation: “I have too much on my plate, I need these 29 things to go away, please help me.” Your team member agrees to all of it because they’re eager to get the job.

How to manage a team

Unfortunately, when you pile everything onto one person, you’re setting them up for failure. 

Whenever you bring on a new team member – whether it’s your 1st or your 31st – make sure their exact role is crystal clear, and the processes or outcomes they are responsible for are crystal clear as well. 

If you’re hiring a 2iC or an OBM, get really clear on what you need them to be responsible for and how that integrates with what other team members (including yourself) are responsible for.

Related Post: How To Create a Strategic Plan | Entrepreneur’s Ultimate Guide

So, every time you bring on a team member, review the key processes in your business that keep things running smoothly and make sure everyone on the team is clear about who owns what, especially as you transition things to a new person.

I think most people can set a deadline on a task, but they feel hella uncomfortable when that deadline passes and someone didn’t get their sh*t done on time.

Holding someone accountable to deadlines or commitments can feel uncomfortable.

Life would be so much easier if everyone just did what they said they would do and we didn’t have to have any awkward conversations 😂.

Unfortunately, that’s not how life or business works. If you’re going to set a deadline on tasks or projects (as you should), you’re going to have to follow up if those deadlines aren’t met. 

Holding your team accountable shows them that you take deadlines & commitments seriously and fosters a deeper commitment to integrity. 

It also shines a light on where processes in your business might be broken, preventing things from operating smoothly, which allows you to fix them so that next time there isn’t an issue. 

If you want your team member to thrive in their role, they need to know what they’re doing well and what they’re not doing well. 

Most business owners do not give enough feedback.

Either you forget to give positive feedback or you assume they already know they’re good at what they do. (“I love you until further notice” says the husband to his wife 😂).

Or, you hesitate to give negative feedback because you don’t want to upset anybody and you want to give them a chance to improve.

Related Post: Negative Words: How to Not Let them Affect You

Here’s the thing: people improve with feedback! 

Right now, ask yourself: “what are the 3 most important things for X person in their role?” and “how are they performing across those 3 things?” Then schedule a time to have this conversation with them whether it be weekly, monthly, or quarterly. (And by God don’t do annual performance reviews.)

When you have clear processes documented for how things need to be done in your business, it’s easy for team members to succeed. 

Have a process bank with clearly documented steps to succeeding at everything in your business. 

This might be a document on the 14 steps to do your bookkeeping accurately, the 6 steps to onboarding a client, or the 26 things to remember when doing your content marketing. 

When you have clear processes, your team doesn’t have to keep the information in their heads, and anyone can step in and do the role should they need to.

Ask yourself right now: which process or task in your business happens the most often and/or sees the most mistakes? Do you have a process documented to help people do it successfully each time? 

If your team is growing, the complexity of your business is expanding too. 

Having a project management tool to keep your projects, information, and communication organized in one place makes a big difference in keeping things running smoothly. 

I, personally, use ClickUp because you can customize every single piece of it to meet your needs. But there are also great alternatives like Trello, Basecamp, Asana,,, etc. 

  • Pick a project management tool and use it to keep yourself and your team organized.
  • Document the projects you’re working on and the steps to achieving them. 
  • Have any questions and communication about that project housed right there underneath it. You can even keep all client information or process documents or ideas captured in that one system.

If you don’t have a project management tool set up, ask your new team member to get you organized in one! 

This is absolutely something any Virtual Assistant or Online Business Manager can tackle – you do not need to have the time and energy for it (but your business needs it!)

The biggest thing that holds entrepreneurs back from becoming a great leader is actually delegating.

And I get it, you’ve built your baby from the ground up and letting someone else take over is so uncomfortable.

  • What if they do something wrong and a client gets upset? 
  • What if it takes them 10 times as long as it takes you? 
  • What if they just plain suck at it? 

In most cases, your team member can do what you hired them to do faster and better than you can. 

It’s their only job and what they have experience doing. You, trying to juggle all the balls, are very likely dropping some of them.

And trust that that is going to feel so good to you to know that someone else has got it and you don’t have to worry about it anymore.

Expanding your team and getting additional support in your business is such an exciting point in your growth!

Whether you’re thinking about hiring your first team member, have already onboarded them, or are looking for ways to improve your existing team operations, these 8 management tips for how to manage a team are going to help you step into your full potential as a leader.

If you’re an ambitious (and slightly overwhelmed 😅 ) entrepreneur, let’s connect over a discovery call and explore how 1:1 business coaching can help you grow your business to the next level while freeing up your time and energy for a more fulfilling life.

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