Starting a new small business can involve building a team of capable people who complement your strengths and skillset.
At GoForth, our original team shared several core philosophies, the most important of which was a commitment to launch and build the leading small business training company in Canada. We’ve had our core team members in place since day one, evolving from a team of strangers into a family of committed, talented educators, writers, designers and entrepreneurs.
Here’s our advice for building a great small business team.
Don’t start with a layer of executives
If you hold the vision for your company, you most likely need functional roles more than you need a roster of VPs. We started with a single founder and a team of writers and creative people. We complemented each other in every way, and we work well together!
Bring experience to functional roles
You may be a founder or CEO for the first time in your new business and there’s a lot of on-the-job learning you’ll go through. Don’t surround yourself with people who are making it up as they go along. Experience matters.
Generalists are undervalued
In the early stages, you’ll need people who can do many things, who can brainstorm outside of their function and see how their roles affect others. To ensure this framework is rooted in your young company, hire the core technical skills you need but surround them with “deep generalists,” or people who have a specific role but the proven ability to cross into others.
Look for failures
People who have failed and recovered are a better choice than people who have never failed. Failure is a great source of insight, but more than that, people who can figure out how to rise again have the right personality for a new small business, and the pivots and adaptability that it entails.
Don’t hire people like you
You need diverse experiences, philosophies and talents to cross-pollinate. That said, hire people you like – you’ll spend a lot of time with them! Always focus on the next step. Everyone you hire is a magnet for future hires. Never hire a jerk, no matter how talented the person is, and never hire an ego, no matter how accomplished the person is. They will do more damage to your culture than their talent can possibly make up for.
Defer to other people’s greater experience
You don’t know what they know, or you wouldn’t have hired them. That said, always seek to understand how they are applying their experience to your business. You’ll learn, and you’ll be able to guide how the pieces fit together
There is no substitute for passion
If you’re like many new small businesses, you can’t pay top dollar for talent, and you don’t want to be a stepping stone to a bigger salary at a corporation. So you need your team to share your passion for what you’re doing. They should see getting to change the world through your business as a valuable, if non-monetary, part of their compensation. If you’re starting from scratch, you need to see the business move forward every day. Team members who share your passion are key.
Every successful company has an equally successful team behind it. The first step is to build and foster a team that can drive your business. We hope these tips help!