Mar 12, 2016

“Building up a Team – looking for people”
- Kirill Kedrinski , Business

This is a complicated issue and I intend to answer it in detail, so bring yourself some warm green tea, sit back and be prepared to start thinking. 

For appetite, as a starter dish, I will tell you a little about my past. Generally, in one form or another, I have built a team several times. The very first was even before I started school. Being 7 years of age I organized a zoo at my summer house (rus. dacha). I got some pets from my neighbors' kids, we had some animals at our dacha as well, and some were caught in the surrounding forest. Someone was put on the entrance to collect money for the visit. My grandmother was dealing with the production and distribution of beverages. Revenue was not very good, but it was enough for large quantities of chewing gum and similar stuff.

The next thing I did was sell books. I was living with my father in the Czech Republic back then. Quite by accident I found books that were going to be just thrown away. These were Soviet books. Until 1991 Czechs used to learn Russian in schools, and many of them have warm feelings for some of our writers. We got together with the kids from my block and we made stalls out of boxes and the books were placed on them. We got pretty good money just in one day.

Next, there were less serious organizing attempts like getting together street football teams and musical bands. Then, right after high school I accidentally got into network marketing Tiens and did some team building there. Apart from acquiring public speaking skills there, I also got many other useful abilities. However, the actual participation in this scam – getting people to buy dietary supplements was of no enjoyment to me, and that is nicely put.

So, after that I got a job as a sales manager in a company. In about a month I was promoted to the post of director due to me being enthusiastic and active. There I took care of various affairs, including finding and hiring necessary people. It lasted a year and a half. That company was selling interesting and little-known music, and then it started selling other goods with the same idea.

Then I got a job as a PR manager in one of the offices, run by a guy who used to make dumplings. The company was a kind of a search engine. The design, promotion, services. Everything was terrible. Somewhere out of 80s-90s. Therefore, the first thing I did was invite my own designer and programmer. Found two sales managers. Not sure all this had to be done by the PR manager, but I had such an opportunity, so I quickly took up getting things straight in the company. Pretty quickly we changed everything. Logo, website design, services, commercial supplies, the mood among employees. Organized the official launch and advertising throughout the city as much as the budget allowed. Never did the site have such big traffic as in those days.

Then after a while I started gathering a team for the purpose of opening my own web studio. By some miracle I managed to find a very talented programmer, who agreed to start doing this together. Many other people were involved also - designers, managers, etc. Times were different. Sometimes we received good orders and there were regular clients. But in any case, looking for clients, working with them was necessary, so one could not call it a passive income. So I continued to look for ways to develop passive income.

So, over time, stock photo agencies caught my eye. I liked the fact that they give you geographical freedom, no need to communicate with clients and a relatively passive income.

By this time I have gathered some experience in bringing people together to achieve certain goals. And I would like to share this experience.

Do you really need a team and what for?

When a person works for someone, he doesn't own his time and income. His time is bought for a certain price. He gives his resources and receives a more or less fixed fee. In most cases, it is possible to get more money by changing jobs or doing significantly larger amounts of tasks. In any case, the person performs some kind of useful work, which brings a certain amount of money. The person receives only a small fraction of that money as a salary, otherwise it won't be profitable for the company to keep him, right? I don't remember the number, but it usually ranges from 10% for salespeople up to 50% for higher level workers or rare professionals. Anyway, don't want to make staff up. The point is that you get much less than your employer from the benefits that you bring.

If you work for yourself, income is also limited. And it is limited by time. You can work more and more, but certainly no more than 24 hours a day. Therefore, sooner or later you will hit a ceiling. Moreover, in this case, you need to perform not one, but several functions. If you are a freelancer, you need to find clients, work with them (the things done by sales and PR managers in large companies), to study the market, form prices and services, promotions (marketing manager), to execute the work (designer, programmer, photographer, maybe someone else who will read this article), keep books, analytics (accountant, director), to update the site and so on... And, not for all of these functions you will get money. In fact, you will be paid only for the result, and the rest is organization of your own work, which is only included in the price of your services for customers. And so, sooner or later (usually sooner) you will hit a time ceiling. You will last a while under that ceiling and then a decline will happen because of demotivation. This will occur because you would not have the energy and time to enjoy the fruits of your deeds. As far as I know, it's called burning out.


If there is a desire to grow, then the only way is building a team. This situation is opposite to the first mentioned - employment. Now you are the boss and buy people's time and their experience, skills and other delights. After a while, under certain circumstances, you will minimize your own participation in work, especially the one your heart does not lie to, and will get more money in less time.


You decide whether you need a team or not - just think in what situation you want to be. If you want to grow and make more profit, you definitely need a team. 

Before building a team

It is necessary to define several parameters.

What are your objectives? What goal do you put in front? For example, you want to open a studio for production of stock photography. Then you need keyworders, retouchers, assistants, makeup artists, etc. If you want to do weddings, then you'd need a sales manager and retouchers, for example. Everyone can determine the tasks he wants to delegate to others.

Whom do you need for execution? Once you have decided on the first issue, everything will be clear with this one also. Think how many people you need for various functions.

What are your resources for hiring and supporting the work of these people? Now compare them to your capabilities. Do you need retouchers? Okay, but do you have the equipment to organize a workplace? The same goes for other positions. What about wages and other expenses? Can you manage?

What working conditions are there? How you plan to hire, pay, motivate employees, where they will work, how long and so on. Consider also whether many people would be willing to work on such terms. If you offer employees excellent working conditions, if working in your team will be "cool", there will be confidence that your personnel will not leave you.

Where and how to search for people, search criteria can be determined based on the paragraphs above.

If the answers you got are a bit sad, don't get upset! Because below we will consider the options for almost any situation!

Let's start

And we start with the situation where resources are very limited. In this situation, the most adequate solution is to find one person and share the duties with him/her. Make sure you look for a partnership. So this is when no one hires no one, but you both invest personal resources - money, time, effort etc. into the cause.

When it comes to working with stock photo sites, one of you focuses on photography, the other on works attribution and uploading, and you both do retouching, which is the most time-consuming task, the rest of the time. This is one of the options. It is also possible that one partner is a full-on retoucher, and the other does everything else.

For other kinds of photographers it is of no less importance. If you are working with whether weddings or shootings for catalogs, or something else, it will be a good idea to share the work with a partner. You can assign retouching, sales and the communication with the client to your partner. However, it would be most rational, perhaps, to give away retouching and do the rest yourself.

There are different ways to acquire such a partner - for example, it may be your significant other. Great if you already have someone, and he/she has certain abilities (or the desire to acquire them), however, you don't have to start looking specifically for this purpose :) . It can also be friends and acquaintances, whom you trust. It makes sense to make such offers to not very experienced people. It is clear that the more experienced professionals are already busy with their own staff and are well settled. If the inner circle is not the desired option, you can look in the same way for workers as it is usually done  - on job sites and freelancing, for instance.

After approval of a candidate partner, you can discuss all the terms and conditions, organize everything properly, distribute the tasks, make a plan and start working. When you have enough resources, you will be able to hire employees and expand your business. 


Advantages of this option are obvious - you do not need money to pay for the work of this person, you can bear all the expenses together. This is a quick and cheap start. The main disadvantages are disagreements, the fact that you always to share and keep your partner in consideration. If there are insurmountable disagreements, the business is likely to fall apart or experience difficulties.


Let's go on with a situation where there are some savings for the start. This makes it a little bit easier. You need to determine the salary that you are willing to pay, understand whether you are going to rent an office, buy equipment to provide a working space for the employee. After that, it will be clear how many employees you can hire and how much money you have for keeping this starting team. Considering the savings that you invest in your business, as well as the regular income.

If we are talking about stock sites, the most important thing is hiring retouchers. They need a workplace of an acceptable level. The better their workstation, the higher the speed of work and higher motivation to work for you. Let's say you have $10,000. Then you organize the workplace for $3000 and you still have another $7000. Paying out the salaries and the office will take up $1500 a month. Then you have enough money to last for four months (the sums of money are abstract, of course, and vary in different countries). Will you be able to become a self-financing enterprise in four months, i.e. having an income of over $1500 a month? If so, you should start. No? Then you must collect more funds. Also, I would recommend to always add 30% to all calculations. For the factor of safety. After all, if you miscalculate, you lose all $10,000 in fact. If you don't think everything through, you would lose the business.

If we're talking about working with orders, the situation is slightly different. If you are hiring a sales manager, then you can agree with him on just the interest from the sales, or to pay a small salary and the interest. Thus, this scheme will be close to the affiliate scheme - without additional investment on your side or with minimum investments. Unfortunately, it won't work if you need a retoucher. However, you can make payment arrangements depending on the number of photos. Then you are also free from investments, because you can pay him for the work with the money that the client gives you, including advance payments. Let's say you ask for $20 and give the retoucher $8, which leaves you with $12. You have $12 and you are happy. The risk in this scheme is that if you don't have a good flow of customers, most likely, your retoucher won't last long.

In this situation, the advantage is the fact that you are the business owner and do not depend on you partner's decision-making. You are free to steer the ship yourself. The disadvantage is that you have to think about investments and risk.

It makes sense to look for workers with the help of specialized websites or social media. This is the fastest and the most reliable way.

The following situation is the most peculiar. You act as the organizer of all the processes and you have an investor who finances your project on terms of a partnership. It can be a long-term loan, or an investment for future profit-sharing. Quite a lot of conditions can be considered. The point is, you are given money, and you properly (I hope) use it with the purpose of getting more.

Depending on the generosity of your investor, you can start up a larger company and hire all or most of the necessary staff. You need to clearly understand what kind of people you require in the first place, to avoid wasteful spending. For example, if you have two retouchers, you do not need to hire 5 photographers. The work of a retoucher takes more time. And 1 fully loaded photographer can easily provide 5 or 10 retouchers with work. Well, your task is to squeeze the maximum out of minimum. Start with determining the performance of the photographer. After that, it will become clear how many retouchers you need. You can hire them one by one gradually, as it is necessary to understand their capacity too. After this you will get a certain number of images and it will become clear how many other guys you need. For example, keyworders and uploaders. Perhaps, one person can handle it all, but maybe three would not be enough.


When you get more ample opportunities, the main thing is not to lose your mind. So, be careful and plan before doing. Otherwise, you will not be able to please the investor, and angry investors are capable of some rough action.


The advantages of this situation are obvious - quick start and development. The disadvantage is that you need to carry very high degree of responsibility and share with your investor. Depending on the arrangements you make, the investor will or will not be able to participate in the management, then it is also possible that you will not be able to single-handedly manage a team. Therefore, try to agree about the fact that you are the only one to decide on important business issues. Pay attention to this because the investor is not always well-versed in what the project needs. Therefore, he may insist on decisions based on his own previously obtained experience, which may not be applicable to your business. It won't do any good.

Where to find an investor? This is a very difficult and individual question. Most of the times such people can be found through acquaintances and word of mouth. Also, there are various regional projects like Business Factory. However, most people in these projects have little financial capabilities and focus on very small projects - sometimes up to $5000 - $10000. Such amounts are not a problem to save independently, especially after reading this article.

You can look for workers yourself through sites, or you can use the services of a recruitment agency. Then the quality of the suggested personnel will be much higher. This does not always happen, but the chance of signing a contract with a more skilled worker is many times higher.

So, the team is assembled (not created). But, this is just the beginning. In following articles we will talk about organizational aspects, in order for the team not to fall apart, but develop at a rapid pace.

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