“Wars come and go, but my soldiers stay eternal.” – Tupac Amaru Shakur
How do I build a business team for my small business? How do I assemble a business team when I can’t afford them? Are you interested in building your own business team from scratch? Do you want to know what it takes to build a strong business management team? Well, if you are interested in finding an answer to any of the questions asked above; then please read on as I share with you the pros and cons of building a business management team from scratch.
“Individuals don’t win in business; teams do.” – Sam Walton
In previous articles, I highlighted four reasons why you need a business management team and also laid out a step by step guide to developing your business management skills. So in this article, I will be summing it up by revealing the exact step by step approach to building a business team based on my own entrepreneurial experience.
“When employees unite, they form a union but when business owners unite, they form a team.” – Robert Kiyosaki
“I greatly admire GE, their utterly ruthlessly focused management, to get the cost out and get this integration done.’ Ok, we may make a few mistakes along the way but we are not going to waste any time.’ They make decisions; they are incredibly disciplined and focused.” – Larry Ellison
How to Build a Strong Business Management Team that Wins
1. Outline your personal objectives
The first step to building a business team is to outline your own personal objectives but I prefer to this your primary aim. Every entrepreneur must have a primary aim in order to succeed in business; without a primary aim, you have nothing worth dying for.
Now what has your primary aim of building a business got to do with a business management team? While I have no direct answer to that question, I want to point out that the main reason why entrepreneurs build business to use that business as a leverage to achieve their primary aim. That primary aim may be freedom, self actualization or anything.
“Money is not a goal. The goal is to make companies grow, develop, be competitive, be in different areas, be efficient to have a great human team inside the company. Look for human development of the people of the companies because you cannot do anything without human capital, without your human team.” – Carlos Slim Helu
Now it’s the duty of your business team to work towards the growth of your business, which will in turn fulfill your primary. So directly or indirectly, your business team has a role to play in the actualization of your primary aim and if they are not going to help you achieve that aim; then they are not worth being a team.
2. Outline your business objectives
After outlining your personal objectives, the next you will need to outline are your business objectives. You need this because it will help determine who is worth being on your business team. When assessing your proposed business management team members; you must make sure that their various skills will add to the bottom line and help the business achieve its objectives.
“Management by objective works, if you know the objectives. Ninety percent of the time, you don’t.” – Peter F. Drucker
If a proposed member possesses a skill that doesn’t add to your bottom line; then bypass him/her no matter how skillful that person may be.
“We need leaders who add value to the people and the organization they lead; who work for the benefit of others and not just for their own personal gain. Leaders who inspire and motivate, not intimidate and manipulate; who live with people to know their problems in order to solve them and who follow a moral compass that points in the right directions regardless of the trends.” – Mary Kay Ash
3. Identify your strength and weaknesses
The true essence of a business team is to balance each other’s act and work towards a common goal of building a strong business. Before beginning the search for a business management team; I will advice you look into yourself and identify your strengths and weaknesses. Just as I said above, the essence of a business team is balanced each others act. What’s the essence of having a business team whose strengths are your strength?
“Bringing together the right information with the right people will dramatically improve a company’s ability to develop and act on strategic business opportunities.” – Bill Gates
Your goal must be to build a business management team whose strengths complement your weaknesses. For instance, I am a good communicator and strategist but occasionally, I blow smoke and this is not quite good for negotiation. My attitude of occasionally flaring up and blowing smoke is the reason I have my friend Precious on my team as my adviser and confidant. Precious is an excellent negotiator with basic knowledge in banking and finance issues. But most importantly, he’s cool headed.
So whenever I go on business deals; I take Precious with me since he’s very good at negotiating and bargaining. And should in case I blow smoke, he knows how to calm my tempers down and bring the situation under control. Whenever I get too excited and want to make a blind business move; he pulls me back and forces me to have a rethink. When I am emotionally attached to an investment or deal, he thinks objectively and bring my senses back; when he want to go astray also, I step in and bring back his senses. If not for these checks and balances; both of us would have lost businesses and blown up deals.
The situation explained above is a practical way true business team members balance each others’ act. If business team members can’t balance each others’ act and skills; then they are not a team.
4. Develop your business mission
“Being an entrepreneur, I have come to realize that all successful businesses are driven by three fundamentals. One is the cash flow, two is the team and three is the mission. Of these three, the mission is the most important.” – Ajaero Tony Martins
Your business mission is probably one of the most important elements of your business because that’s where your entrepreneurial spirit dwells. When assembling my own business team; I made sure I sold my business mission to them. If they have an objection to the mission or act otherwise, they are free to take their leave.
“The IKEA spirit is strong and living reality. Simplicity in our behavior gives us strength. Simplicity and humbleness characterize us in our relations with each others, our suppliers and our customers.” – Ingvar Kamprad
Your business team must accept and align themselves with the business mission because the business mission is the bond binding the business together. Without the business mission, there will be no team spirit among your employees and business management team.
To further illustrate the importance of preparing your business mission beforehand and selling it to your business team, I will share an incident with you. I once walked out of a business deal simply because I couldn’t comprehend the mission of that business. I was invited into that deal as an inside investor; I was also asked to be a member of the core business team.
The business idea was about publishing a magazine and to be sincere with you, the business team was very experienced in the game; the business plan was solid and the feasibility shows strong potential but I walked away. I walked away from that deal despite the fact that it showed strong potential because I realized that the business mission of that business was simply to make money for the entrepreneur.
I tried to sell the entrepreneur and the entire team on the idea that we should run lean and avoid taking a salary since we are major shareholders and secondly, the business was still in its startup phase. I suggested this and told them that I was willing to work for free because I knew from experience that publishing was a tough industry to operate in and we are just a startup.
But my advice fell on deaf ears. The team members could not reach an agreement on the salary issue and this issue was always the top agenda during our meetings. Being the last and newest member of the business team, I quietly watched the unfolding drama and when it became a reality that making money was the true mission of the entrepreneur, I walked away and I never regretted my actions.
“To turn really interesting ideas and fledging ideas into a company that can continue to innovate for years, it requires a lot of disciplines.” – Steve Jobs
This real live experience made me realize the need of a business mission before even starting a business. If you don’t have a business mission, then your business will not stand the test of time.
5. Develop a business team acquisition plan
Now that you have identified your strengths and weaknesses, highlighted your business objectives and business mission; it’s time to draw a business team acquisition plan. And your business team acquisition plan begins with you answering the following questions:
- Why do you need a business team?
- What specific role will be played by your business?
- How will you compensate your business management team?
- How will you maximize the potential of your business team?
These are real live questions you must answer and plan towards before embarking on a quest to assemble a business team. It’s also advisable you list the qualities, skills and specific characters your proposed team members must possess.
Remember, the process of building a business management team may span for years and this team will carry on the business when you are no more; so you must plan carefully and make sure that the right individuals make up your management team.
6. Begin your search for a business management team
Now having highlighted the qualities you need in your business team; it’s now time to begin the search for suitable individuals that will form the team. Now how do you find skilled individuals that will make up your business management team?
“People are definitely a company’s greatest asset. It doesn’t make any difference whether the company’s product is cars or cosmetics. A company is only as good as the people it keeps.” – Mary Kay Ash
The search for a business team is not a process you can run an ad for especially when you are starting a business from scratch with limited budget; it’s a process that has to be approached tactically. When I made up my mind to build a business team; I knew the process wasn’t going to be an easy one, yet I began the process and with experience from this process; I want to state that there’s no definite pattern to finding individuals that will make up your business management team.
I met some of my business team members based on referral from other entrepreneurs; I sent others a proposal to join my team, some walked up to me with the intention of identifying themselves with my business and the remaining started out as friends and associates. One lesson I learned from the process is that the goal to build a strong business management team is a long term goal; people will keep joining and dropping off as members of your business team until the right team inter-locks.
Now until the right business team locks; you the entrepreneurs must stay true to the entrepreneurial process of building a business team. If you sway otherwise, your standing team will dissolve and you will start the process afresh.
7. Sell your business mission to your prospects
After finding individuals who you deem fit to be on your team, the next step is to sell your business mission to them. If they comprehend the mission and decide to be part of it, bring them on board but if not; let them go. Selling your business mission to your proposed business team members is like transferring your passion and spirit to them; it’s all about selling them on your dreams, values and culture on which you want to build your business.
“The most important ‘speed’ issue is often not technical but cultural. It’s convincing everyone that the company’s survival depends on everyone moving as fast as possible.” – Bill Gates
If they can’t grasp the possibility of your business mission and vision, then they are not worth being your business team. Your business team must feel your passion and join forces with you to transform this passion into energy.
“An organization’s ability to learn and translate that learning into action rapidly is the ultimate competitive advantage.” – Jack Welch
8. Identify competent employees and bring them on board
If you have a business already in operation; then it’s time you look inside and identify employees who have shown long standing commitment, diligence and outstanding performance and bring them on board. Remember, such employee who finally makes it as a team mate will be an asset in the long run because he/she must have mastered the intricacies of the business while an employee.
9. Unleash your business team
“Teams should be able to act with the same unity of purpose and focus as a well motivated individual.” – Bill Gates
Now that you have commenced the process of building your own business team; it’s now up to your business team to prove its worth. Every member of your team must be smart and competent in his/her field; and their professionalism should reflect in the books.
“You’ve got to give great tools to small teams. Pick good people, use small teams and give them great tools so that they are very productive in terms of what they are doing.” – Bill Gates
Now if you have a highly skilled smart person on your team, ride him fast while he/she lasts because he/she may be gone tomorrow. Let your newly acquired business team be an added competitive advantage for your business.
“If you don’t have a competitive advantage, don’t compete.” – Jack Welch
As a final note, I want to repeat the statement that the process of finding your right business management team is not a one hit affair; it’s a continuous process that may span for years, so you must be prepared to go it through.
And one more thing, always remember that business teams are built according to business needs and the entrepreneur’s value. What this means in essence is that the right business team for you might not the right business team for me because we share different core values.
- Now how do I pay for the services of a business team?
- I can’t afford my own business management team?
In answer to these questions, I usually tell my protégés that employing the services of a business management team as a startup entrepreneur and paying for such services entails creativity. You have to find a way to afford your own business team; after all, Rome was not built in a day.
I did not wake up one day and assembled my own business team; rather, I found them one at a time and for each one found; I see a corresponding result on my bottom line. Like I said earlier, paying for the services of your business management team requires creativity that you alone can come up with because you are the only one that understands your business and its financial strength
As a tactic to reducing your overhead, you can leverage the skills of your business team externally and pay them outright for their services. This was exactly how I started. I sought the advice of business professionals individually and after finding the right combination of professionals I was comfortable with; I started bringing them together on a round table brainstorming session during the weekends.
“I have run engineering since day one at Oracle, and I still run engineering. I hold meetings every week with the database team, the middle ware team, the applications team. I run engineering and I will do that until the board throws me out of there.” – Larry Ellison
Some of my team business members were gainfully employed, while others ran their own businesses but I was able to pull them together in synergy on weekends over lunch and sought their advice as a team. You can apply this approach of utilizing a team of external advisors if you are not financially buoyant enough to bring them in-house; after all, entrepreneurship is all about creativity.
You can also assemble a business management team with an agreement that they will be compensated when investors come on board. You may also consider making them shareholders; that means they will work for free while awaiting a greater pay off when funding comes.
In conclusion, bear in mind that you can get anything you want in life and business; if you are willing to be creative in your approach. So don’t let the issue of inadequate capital stop you from growing your business internally and externally; just put your brains to work.