Many small business owners hire contractors, such as virtual assistants, social media managers, online business managers, project managers, fractional marketing/financial officers, etc.

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The beauty of this is that for a small company, such as a coaching or consulting business, this arrangement works well as it allows business owners to have flexibility in contracting a specific number of hours, specific roles, and responsibilities without having to get into an employee-employer contract and gives more control of the budget.

And for the contractor, this allows them to work with multiple clients and generally speaking, work them into their schedule, and learn many different skill sets without being tied to one organization while maximizing their income depending on how much they want to charge and how many hours they desire to work.

But have you thought about what kind of team culture you want for your business? Or if you are the service provider, what kind of team culture allows you to thrive?

Just like company culture, it’s important to have a team culture. If you aren’t intentional with this, it will create itself, which rarely bodes well for anyone involved.

Team culture is your guiding light and will help:

  • Establish your brand identity. When you put thought and intention into your mission, vision, values, and culture they aren’t just words on your website. They help you to communicate what you stand for and attract others who feel the same.
  • Ensure that your team members are engaged with your work. While you can hire anyone who seems to have the skills, chances are that if they aren’t truly engaged with the work they are doing, the quality of the work will show.
  • Set expectations. Being clear on how you want the team to communicate, show up, interact, and work from the start of the contract allows everyone to know what to expect.
  • Increase retention. Even though you aren’t in an employer/employee contract, onboarding, and offboarding still take a lot of time, energy, and resources. If you and potential contractors are clear on the culture, you can both make better-informed decisions as to whether there is a good fit.
  • Grow and make more money. The reality is that you hire your team so that you don’t have to do all of the things but also so that you can grow your business. When you have a solid team behind you, anything is truly possible.

So then you might be asking how do you create an intentional team culture?

Get clear on your own values, vision, and mission for your work, as mentioned above.

There is an abundance of service providers, and many know exactly how to do the tasks and work you need to be done. But it’s the ones who share values and your mission and vision who will help drive your business forward through creativity and passion.

Have a good onboarding process. Welcome your new team member, give them time to get to know things, ie. don’t expect to hand over tasks immediately without context, introduce them to the team, and ensure they have everything they need. When you treat every team member as important, regardless of what tasks they are doing, they too will most likely reciprocate.

Ensure psychological safety. When team members feel safe sharing their ideas, asking for help, and admitting mistakes, then the team actually thrives. I’ve seen many teams in which this isn’t the case so team members hide mistakes and point blame or try to fix it themselves, spend hours trying to figure out a task when it can take just a few minutes to get an answer.

Allow your team members to grow and evolve. This is what humans do — we change. So someone starting as a virtual assistant today may not want to continue that in a few months, creating an environment for people to grow will actually help your team to thrive.

Have a human-first mindset. Remember that you and your team members are all human. Mistakes happen, people have good and bad days. Show empathy and compassion for yourself and others. If ruptures occur, find ways to repair them.

Establishing a strong team culture BEFORE you need to is key. But it is possible to change a culture after it has established itself.