How to make a big impression with a tiny team

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As creative freelancers, we don’t have the luxury of big corporate budgets and massive staffs at our disposal.

When working on a team project, it’s crucial that everyone pulls their weight and gets the job done with the maximum amount of effort and a minimal amount of cost.

Thanks to technology, freelancers just like you and me can collaborate on projects without hopping on a plane. But there are some things you need to do to make sure that you can wow your client with a tiny team.

Working on a big project with a small team?

Sidenote: Once you finish, read how 4 freelancers built recurring revenue models that changed their business. You'll love it.

Check out the following ideas to make a maximum impact with a minimal crew:

Structure your project

Before you assemble your team, clearly define project parameters, including:

  • internal and external deadlines
  • project roles
  • budget
  • workflow (how to coordinate tasks, including software to use)
  • communication
  • client service

Find the right team members

Once you know what needs to be done, now comes the fun part: finding the people to do it.

It’s important to find people whose strengths match the role. While you may enjoy working with someone, if their skillset doesn’t match what you need, they’re not the right person for the job.

Be honest about the strengths of the people you know and search out new partners for the project.

  • Ask for referrals from people you admire.
  • Post a job online.
  • Check out mastermind groups (like Millo’s!).

Once you find the people you want, find a backup for each one of them.

Pro Tip! When you post a job request, be very detailed about both the project and what you’re looking for. The less detailed you are, the more likely you are to receive inquiries (and possibly even hire) unqualified people.

Turn every detail into a task

No matter how small it may be, write down every single little thing that has to be done.

You can then assign tasks to people based on their strengths and roles and put it into a software program that everyone has access to. There are a ton of great applications out there; some are even free.

Note: It’s important that your team is properly trained in the software and understands how to use it.

Automate. Everything.

When working in a lean environment, don’t waste time with administrative tasks.

Learn how to use automation software to complete repetitive tasks like sending emails, backing up files and more. These cloud-based services integrate with hundreds of accounts you use everyday like:

They work on a simple rule called If This, Then That (also called triggers and actions).

For example: When I finish a new WordPress post (trigger), my software creates a text file on Google Drive (action).

Pro Tip! Try automation for yourself with tools like Zapier and IFTTT.

Communication is key

It’s important to set a time for everyone to touch base at least once per week. This way there are no surprises when deadlines loom and important tasks haven’t been completed.

Give everyone time to talk about what they’ve been working on, problems they encounter and new things they’ve discovered.

After everyone has presented, restate the problems and brainstorm solutions. This will give you a chance to make adjustments or shuffle tasks around to members who are better suited to them.

Next, keep everyone on track by stating upcoming deadlines and other news.

Once you get up to speed with your team, give your client a progress update. (It’s not a bad idea to let them know how often you’ll be reporting on your progress before beginning the project.)

Pro Tip! Don’t underestimate the value of small talk; allow people to stay on the call (or chat) and talk about whatever. Bonding with teammates makes it easier for them to work together again.

Get everyone to evaluate the process

While most of us are already asking our clients for feedback on projects, it’s just as important for the team to evaluate the project and each other.

Get everyone to participate and rate these key factors:

  • how the process went
  • the performance of each team member
  • their own performance
  • what could be done better next time
  • what worked really well

Keep these evaluations anonymous so everyone can be honest.  Share the answers with your team and use them to structure your next project.

Conclusion

Working in a team doesn’t have to be a crapshoot. With a little structure and good communication, you can turn your next collaboration into a homerun.

What are some of the best practices you’ve found when working with a team?  We’d love to hear about it in the comments!

Want more on project management and collaboration?

Check out these posts:

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About Sharon McElwee

Sharon McElwee helps creative businesses with blogging, email, copywriting and social media. She loves to partner with designers on web and print projects. You make beautiful things; don’t let them get ruined by ugly copy. Connect with her on Twitter.

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  1. Brilliant guideline. I follow your idea. Thanks for sharing…….