A small business starts with the ideas and hard work of an entrepreneur. However, without adding more talent to the team, the business will always stay small—in size, talent, and vision. To increase your company’s capacity you must increase the team of talented people who think, work, and manage alongside you.
Over the years we’ve learned some important lessons about hiring the right talent.
Hire people that are better than you
We had to learn to not be intimidated by hiring top-notch employees, some of whom had been in their industry since we were in middle school. Why? Because, in order to build our business, we needed that expertise.
As an entrepreneur, you will sometimes think you need to be an expert in everything. Certainly, you needs to be well-versed in the various aspects of your own business, whether it’s international tax, AdWords, or annual reviews. But you need not be the expert.
You want these talented people to join your team. The better the talent, the better the team. Talented people will build your company.
When conducting interviews, look for people who have a “spark” and a good attitude. An ideal employee is one with the capacity to grow beyond the position you’re hiring for. A bright person with little experience in the field will often be more valuable in the long run that an experienced person who will never rise beyond the initial position they are hired for.
Look for independent thinkers
You don’t want a bunch of drone bees that you have to hand-hold. You want people who will think for themselves, challenge the process, speak up, make decisions, and make mistakes (and learn from them).
A team of thinkers will clash more than a team of followers. They will question your decisions and posit their own solutions to problems. While this can challenge the ego of a leader, it will build your company—if you let it. Having a team of creative and independent thinkers will result in more ideas and solutions for overcoming problems your business faces.
Now you are leading leaders
Once you identify and hire talented people for your business, the real challenge begins – learning to lead a team of leaders! Leading people who may be better-educated, older, or more experienced is a tremendous challenge – but it can be done. Listen to your leaders, encourage them, have fun with them, teach them, learn together – all of these are important pieces to becoming a team.
Don’t be afraid of them. Consider their opinions and ideas and weigh them carefully—but you don’t necessarily need to follow their proposals. Have confidence in yourself and in your vision for your company. Inspire your employees with why you should go a certain direction. And trust that they will follow you.
Keep tabs on your team. One member who is inflexible and unwilling to listen or change can silence and stifle the entire team. Even if that person is a valuable member, for the team’s sake, you may need to remove him or her.
Leaders will take you places you wouldn’t even dream of
Awhile ago, we hired a brilliant sales guy to do sales for our travelwear line. He was constantly challenging current models and coming up with new sales ideas; we learned so much just from his brainstorming. Which got us thinking about possibly starting a knitwear line (his previous sales experience)—something we never would’ve thought of! After extensive research and projections, we decided to go forward with Phase I of starting a knitwear factory. And now, he is leading that team.
Bottom line: talented people will make you—and your business—develop and grow in ways you never thought possible.