One thing I have been able to do well over the last few years is develop a virtual team from the ground up. I started my business a few years ago with just my wife and I, and slowly we have grown.
I started out hiring a few freelancers. Early on I have to say I was not very good at this. I encountered a couple of dishonest people, as many more that were not mature enough to organize their work. I literally worked with dozens of people. There were some that were super talented but too busy for me. Others may have found other work, because I wasn’t a very good project manager in the beginning.
Over time I got better at working with people. I learned how to resell their work. I could come up with an idea for just about anyone once I learned their skills. When a customer came along that needed something, I knew where to find help. Most of this I did informally at first, matching a customer with a person who could do the job. I can’t say it was perfect, but it worked. For example, sometimes I would have a programmer doing design work in addition to the programming for a customer, and that wouldn’t go so well.
I learned to organize tasks better into their component parts. I would use a programmer for part of the task, and a designer for another part. I got bigger jobs, and even started to sell my own software (phpLD). That really took off, and I attracted more talented people.
The workload grew so large that last year we had to build our own software just to manage the work, and stay organized with customers who send us dozens of ours of work, both large and small. Our talented staff also gave me feedback about how to work with customers, and customers gave me feedback about the staff, and now this is really coming together too.
I think the secret to my success so far has been my ability to work with people and turn their work into money. And not only that, to develop people into more than they are now, just as I did that for myself, learning to manage larger and more diverse projects. I’ve helped people to make more money, and even develop a career, and as a result, they have wanted to continue to work with me. I have a couple of people now that have been with our company for more than 5 years (one is 8 years I believe), and a few more than have been around for 3 years or more.
Recently, we added a new person to our team, and it is really getting exciting, and what is wonderful is everyone does it virtually across multiple time zones from the Pacific to Europe (and a couple of part timers in Asia).
So first, I hope you enjoyed my sharing what I did, but also I would love to hear about how you developed your team, or your plans or aspirations for the future!