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We talk a lot in Thriveal about leaving your current job to go out on your own and start your own firm. That is an exciting and scary time in the life of a business owner to be sure. It is also very exciting to watch that business grow and to build your team. It has taken ten years to get the team we currently have in place at our firm, and they are simply amazing.

Why Build A Team

As always, let’s start with why. Does every business owner need to build a team or is it perfectly fine to be a solopreneur? It probably depends, but here are some reasons that we have chosen to build our team. Maybe some of the following reasons will apply to your business.

One key reason we needed to build our team is that Jason has too many ideas to execute on his own. To properly meet the needs of our customers, Jason needed to be able to delegate some of his tasks to other people so that he could develop new ideas and services. In other words, we added team members to take care of our customers without stifling Jason’s creativity.

Another reason to build a team is so that your business can grow and scale. None of us have more than 24 hours a day. When you choose not to build a team, you limit your growth to what you, the owner, can do with 24 hours a day. You have to consider the administrative tasks and personal time along with the highest level work you do. When you don’t have a team, it’s all on you. Jason and I have been helping creative companies work through their growing pains in retreats. Without a team serving the customers with their day to day needs, we would not be able to work at such a deep level with these customers.

And third, as wonderful as you are, there are others that have strengths you do not have. Team members can fill in the gaps where you fall short so that your business overall is a strong one. You, along with a few solid team members capitalizing on your many strengths, could be unstoppable!

How To Build A Team

Once you decide you want to grow and lead a team, there is the big question of HOW to do it. After a decade of hiring people and sometimes firing people, the short answer is to do it slowly and very methodically, gathering more information than you think you’ll ever need!

Start now, before you are desperate for help, by building your network. This is what potential employees are told, but it works just as well for employers. The best hires have come to us because they already knew about us or because they were referred by someone we knew. The local headhunting agency can match skills to a job description, but they probably can’t match your culture and your vision to a candidate. Only one of our current team members came to us through an ad at a college job board. The rest came through referrals from within our network, whether local or through social media.

Build a hiring process that allows the wrong people opportunities to self-select out. It’s a wonderful problem to have two or three amazing choices at the end of several meetings involving your whole team. Take your time. Firing is painful so hire with the greatest patience.

Who Should Be on Your Team?

Choosing someone to join your team is a big deal. Of course there are certain technical skills a person might need to deliver results, but you’ll also want to consider your company’s culture. And guess what, the culture is shaped by the team. Each new team member will have an impact on the culture and yet you want to hire people that blend well with your existing culture. It’s a chicken and egg scenario.

When I was interviewing people to join us last summer, I considered whether that person would be fun to be with on our team retreats. There were other considerations obviously, but we want our team to enjoy each other. We wanted a person who was teachable but also had the technical skills needed to serve our customers. Being a virtual team that is results oriented, we had to hire someone that we trusted completely. We wanted someone who knew what we were all about. We used a hiring process that took several weeks and several meetings. We included our entire team, collaborative technology, and filters so that the wrong people could not progress through our process. In the end, we got two amazing new team members that not only fit in, but add value to our culture and to customers.

My Work Family

I can’t wait to hang out with these people again. And they are delivering serious value to our customers too.

 

Category:
Leadership, Management and Operations
Comments:
3
  • On 11-19-2012 at 10:26 am, Brenda Richter, CPA said:

    Tony H of Zappos did a great presentation for Stanford about corporate culture. It includes information on the hiring process at Zappos. I gave a lunch time presentation to a groups of CPAs a couple of years ago based on what they do at Zappos. I also onclude Zappos in my accounting class.
    http://ecorner.stanford.edu/authorMaterialInfo.html?mid=2542

    Reply
  • On 11-19-2012 at 7:25 pm, Melinda Guillemette said:

    Great post, Jennifer. I’d add another reason for teams: so we can belong to something bigger than ourselves. Most people feel a need to belong to a tribe, as Seth Godin says.

    It would be interesting to read your thoughts on what to do when someone no longer fits on your team. In other words, how do you fire someone or “counsel them out”? How do you do that with compassion and respect? Ain’t easy, I bet.

    I hope you’ll write a post about that.

    Reply
  • Jennifer

    On 11-20-2012 at 5:57 pm, Jennifer said:

    Thanks Melinda!

    I have started and stopped that post on firing a few times. It is important, but I want to be respectful of the people that aren’t with us anymore. I struggle with how much of the story to tell. So many factors go into a decision like that. But we have not regretted it!

    But as for the part about belonging…YES. And there is a beautiful synergy that happens with a team. The whole really is greater than the sum of all their parts. We are better together. I love our team.

    Reply

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