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How lean can a small team be while still performing well?

lean team of 3 people at work
You only need a few trustworthy, reliable people to make your lean company successful

When I was in school, I remember those running for honours had to submit proof that they possessed exceptional skills and were involved in extracurricular clubs. 

I noticed that some of them submitted 2-3 file folders that included these certificates.

I was able to sneak a peek at a few. It could be the green-eyed monster in my head, but I’m quite sure some of them were fake. I found a glee club certificate inside a folder of someone who couldn’t even carry a tune.

After 13 years in the workforce, I’ve realised that those who knew and did “everything” on their own are the ones who burn out first. At work, collaboration is more valuable and accelerates progress.

We need a group of experts working together to launch a project now more than ever.

I wish collaboration was more emphasised and rewarded in schools.

Critical roles in a lean team

According to Allan Dib’s 1-Page Marketing Plan, three types of people must collaborate for a business or project to succeed.

First and foremost, you need The Entrepreneur, who has a vision for the company. They have a strategy and the ability to lead others until the goal is met.

Then there’s The Specialist. This person puts the vision into action and makes it a reality. A lawyer, for example, registers a brand to make it an official company. 

Another example is a designer, who takes instructions and creates a design based on a vision.

Finally, you’ll require The Manager. They make sure that the processes are repeated. Their responsibilities include ensuring the consistent quality of deliverables and that everyone meets their goals.

The end of the one-man-band era

As the owner of a small or medium-sized business, I’m sure you’ve fulfilled all three of these roles at the same time. Then, one day, you realise that sleeping only two hours a day is unhealthy because you collapsed from exhaustion.

Finally, you make the decision to retire at least two of your hats. Many business owners keep the Entrepreneur hat because they simply cannot let go of their baby. However, as the company grows, they will need to learn to let go.

Outsourcing is the solution, but before you look for an assistant or a social media manager, do some internalisation and honestly ask yourself which hat you want to wear. 

Choose a role that you are passionate about, rather than what society expects of you.

For example, if you enjoy teaching and training, you could oversee Human Resources and hire other managers to fill other positions. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to cultivate the company culture in this manner?

#1 task to outsource: design

What are your least favourite tasks? Many people, including myself, despise the process of chasing payment. For others, it’s writing content. It could be art or design for some.

You’re probably debating whether it’s better to hire in-house or outsource your design needs. 

Many industries that should have in-house talent end up outsourcing their design needs because they can get the same work done for a fraction of the cost.

Design takes some time to develop the vision and brand guidelines. Any deliverable, once put in place, can be replicable. If you are clear about what you want from the start, your design team will be able to carry out your vision smoothly.

A word of caution: If you aren’t clear about what you like and dislike about your designs, you will end up hovering over every design task and wasting time on revisions. Create a solid design guideline for your brand with your design team.

male founder shaking hands with deer designer mascot
Choose Deer Designer to be part of your dream team

Life is easier with the right partner

Despite the fact that there are numerous outsourcing options, one of the most viable is an on-demand design service. In fact, Deer Designer can play both The Specialist and The Manager roles.

As The Specialist, the designer will create custom designs based on your requirements.

As The Manager, the Account Manager will prioritise your deliverables, and the Quality Assurance Hero will double-check the designs for errors and improvements before you see the finished product.

When you think about it, you could have a winning lean team just formed by Deer Designer and yourself!