There are very practical reasons why we business owners shouldn’t do all the work ourselves. Doing it all myself meant I was burnt out, had a seriously unhealthy work-life balance, and was stunting the growth of the company. I needed to stop working in overdrive and make some time to work on my business. Once I did that, we went from a one-person do-it-all shop to a seven-employee full-production studio (and closed one million dollars in annual revenue along the way). Deciding to hire someone is just the first step – here are five more to ensure your first hire is a successful one.

1) Know thyself

Articulate exactly what you like and don’t like. It is absolutely critical that you can clearly communicate your style to anyone that will be doing creative work for you. As well as examples of your own work, show them other stuff you love and why, along with things that make you throw up in your mouth, again with reasons why.

2) Describe your process

Get a pen and paper and write down exactly what you do to get a job done. Do you start with a whiteboard, a spreadsheet, or something else? When you’re bringing staff in, you want to create a process that is repeatable. I know what you’re thinking – you can’t teach creativity – and I get that. But through this process you might identify a few things that are done the same every time, and you’ll be able to teach that part of the process. The more parts of the process you can identify and articulate, the easier the next step will be.

3) What completely drains you?

Grab a piece of paper and divide your working life into three columns – one column of things you love doing, the next of those things you are fine with doing, and the last of all the jobs you really don’t like. Imagine what your life and job would look like if you didn’t have to do any of the jobs on the third column. Hopefully that will motivate you to move swiftly on to the next step.

4) Start with baby steps

Look at the third column on the list you just created and pick one thing to hand off to someone else. I’ve used Upwork as a place to test the waters and see how well you can communicate the task you need done (if people don’t understand what you need, it’s probably because you need to go back a few steps and articulate it more clearly). It’s super exciting to start receiving applicants who tell you that they are perfectly qualified to do that task for you. And then when the job actually gets done to your satisfaction? I’m not sure how to describe that other than freedom.

5) Imagine success

When you make your first hire, whether a permanent employee or freelancer, it’s crucial to have a clear picture of what success looks like. Do you expect them to shoot, edit or direct as well as you do right out of the gates? If so – yikes, I don’t want to come work for you. But if you can give some realistic expectations around your idea of success so that you’ll both know it when you see it, the whole process will go much more smoothly – for you and your hire.

Our tendency as creatives is to think that if we want it done well and on brand, we have to do everything ourselves – which leads to much more of our time spent working in the business instead of on it. If we don’t focus on the business-part of our businesses, we won’t be in business much longer. So make a plan, carve some time into your calendar to work on your business and let go of creative control. The freedom that results may just become addictive…

If you’re looking to become a part of a community that recaptures the freedom you once had as a creative filmmaker, freelancer or producer, join us at Studio Sherpas will guide you along the path to transform your business, so you no longer work for your studio, but your studio works for you.