In 1992 I arrived in Estonia with $400 to my name. I did not know anybody in Tallinn, but over the course of the next 18 years I would build real estate businesses worth $200 million that would employ more than 850 people across 35 different offices.
The key to my success was finding the right team. I didn’t really know the industry or the local market, and I barely even spoke the language, but I was an entrepreneur with a vision, so I found the right people to make that vision a reality.
Finding and building the right team will inevitably become a crucial part of your own business success too, so here are five top tips to help you on your way:
- Think like an astronaut
Even the greatest astronauts don’t fly to the moon alone. In order to reach their goal they have a team of skilled specialists behind them, and in just the same way, every successful entrepreneur needs a great ground team.
It is important to recognise the need for a team early in your business’ life. Trying to do everything yourself simply isn’t sustainable, and if you are too far down the line before you realize this, you may find it very difficult to restructure. Gathering the right people around you can help you to achieve your business goals quicker, and with a more solid foundation for long-term success.
- Break things down
Take a step back from your business and ask yourself what the most important components of it are. It is your baby so you probably know it inside out, but try to look at the company with fresh eyes as if you know nothing.
Now, identify jobs roles that need to be filled. You will need key employees to manage each of the critical functions of your business, with people you can rely on to carry out your vision and execute the day-to-day work. It is important to learn to delegate and trust in others, so rather than trying to stay involved in every aspect of the business, just meet with your managers regularly to stay updated.
- Build your network
Besides your internal team, you will need to build a team outside the company. Most people call this networking, but if you do it right you can see these people as an extension of your business that may, at times, be even more important than your internal team.
As I grew my business I worked with lawyers, architects, publicists, accountants and construction companies, all of whom were external but added invaluable specialist skills to my organisation. It is worth hiring the best, and even keeping them on a retainer, as long as you believe they will really add value.
- Work with people you like
Your team should have skills you don’t have, but it is also important that you like them as people. Personality clashes can be a harmful and costly distraction, and you can quickly spot whether someone is going to blend in with others or if they are difficult.
You’re inevitably going to have to spend a lot of your time with the people you choose – probably more time than you will spend with your family, so finding the right blend of personalities that you actually enjoy working with is vital for sustainable success.
6. It’s not all work, work, work
You have to work hard to find the right people, so once you have them, it is important to retain them and maintain good relationships. Reward your team, celebrate successes and build camaraderie through work and play.
Personal touches like holding birthday parties in your offices, putting on weekends away or just having fun will build loyalty. Put on annual awards parties and give out trophies for the best salesperson and best employee, with prizes for some goofy things as well. These little things add up to make a big difference. Over time, your staff will become one big family who are ready to work together towards your shared goals, and even bail you out when you need them.
By Paul Oberschneider, entrepreneur, angel investor, speaker and the author of new book, Why Sell Tacos in Africa?