December 15, 2017 by Aaron Scott Young
We can all agree that a great team is essential to a thriving business, but how do you go about creating that team? I talk to people all the time who are successful entrepreneurs, they’re making a quarter million dollars a year, yet they’re still a solo-entrepreneur, and they’re struggling because they’re in need of systems and help. Even with those challenges, they’re hesitant to hire because they’re thinking about the financial hit of providing a salary for a new team member. However, the cost of not starting to create that team can be much higher than the initial financial hit. Teams are vital to creating a thriving business, and while it may seem like navigating a minefield to find and nurture those employees, it can be done. I have four steps to share with you that will help you create a dynamic, strong and purposeful team.
#1 –Set the Objectives
You have to have clear objectives when you go out to create a team. When I started the Unshackled Program, the first member of my team was my son-in-law Ian Winn. Ian came on and starting working in sales. Then I needed a website with some landing pages, so I asked my then 20-year-old son Max to build me a simple landing page. Thanks to that combination all of sudden we had dozens of people who had either joined the unshackle owner intensive or said, “I’m interested.” Once that happened, I needed to get organized. I needed to build up the event and have the systems in place to support it. I asked myself who’s the right team for this and identified two companies. One was a website development company, and the other one worked with Infusionsoft nurture campaigns. It was $35,000 for these two companies to start the process. I swallowed hard, but I thought, “it’s not the end of the world.” I sat down with those teams and instead of letting them tell me the process I said “Okay, I want to know how we’re going to develop the narrative, how we’re going to scale it and how are we going to build nurture campaigns? Here are my exact objectives so you tell me how we are going to meet them.”
Most people that I meet who go out and engage a service provider simply plunk down the credit card and then just let whatever happen, happen. That’s not how it should be. You have to ask how is this investment going to benefit me? And when it comes to new team members, ask how are they going to enhance and magnify what I’m doing? If they’re not creating benefit, then you’re just throwing money away. There’s got to be a specific reason for what you’re doing. Clear objectives are essential whether it’s that first virtual assistant, your first full-time employee or even if it’s an outsourced team. You’re the quarterback. Have a clear objective in mind when you engage an individual or a team. Nobody else can do this but you. It can’t be abdicated to someone else. You’ve got to do it. You’re the boss.
#2 – Make Sure to Be Available
It’s important to be accessible to people who want to know more about what you do. Create a social profile for yourself and let the world see the authentic you while showing off your expertise. I don’t try to be overly highly polished because I want you guys to know that I’m just a regular guy who’s had some extraordinary experiences. Let people see you, hear your voice, talk to you and see you when not everything is perfect. When you’re accessible via Facebook live, webinars or conference calls people start to decide if they want to work with you as an employee, a vendor or as an affiliate. It’s really important because your team will be drawn to you if they can see who you are. The more impenetrable the wall is between you and the public the less you are going to attract people to you. Even if they think that you’re cool, they might still wonder if you really want to engage with them. You might end up creating a barrier that doesn’t need to be there. Just be yourself and be out there. Your team will be drawn to you.
#3 – Spark the Vision and Keep it Alive
Once you’ve got the team together, it becomes your responsibility to create the spark. Whatever is in your head and however cool you think it is if you don’t get other people on board with the vision all they’ll do is show up, work and you’ll have paid for their arms and legs, but you will not have captured their heads. What we want to do as the owner is get them engaged in our vision. You want to get them turned on to what you’re doing. You want them to see you’re excited. I really believe that as the owner you have three main tasks. One, make sure there’s money in the bank. Two, make sure you’re surrounded by the right people. Three, hold the vision for where you’re going in the company. People fall in line behind a big vision. People will work harder for something that they love or something that excites them then they will ever work for money.
At Laughlin associates, we have a big audacious goal to have 1,000 corporate veil protection customers per month. That is a gigantic goal, but when I’m in a staff meeting, all I have to do is say a thousand CVPs. Everyone knows the vision, system, and process we have in place to make that happen. More importantly, they know how we measure that goal as we move towards it. We even have a thermometer in the break room that shows how we’re advancing. Remember, you create a vision, and then you hold that vision. You must sell your team on your idea. I’m gonna argue it’s the most important thing that you do as the leader. It’s the way people keep on.
In a recent survey, 81 percent of people said they didn’t know the company’s vision or mission statement. They didn’t know how they fitted into the workings of the business. They didn’t know how their contribution made a difference in the outcome. We don’t want that. We want our team’s heads and hearts as well as their legs and arms. The more open and transparent we can be the more people will believe, trust and follow us. The worst thing you can do is have your employees feel completely left in the dark. Our natural tendency as humans is to fill a vacuum with negative information when we don’t know what’s going on. We fill it with the worst-case scenario. So communicate. Stay transparent. For heaven’s sakes stay freaking organized and keep communicating.
#4 –Make the Tough Calls
When you’re building your team, and you find a potential new team member make sure to trust your gut. Does this feel right or not? I see people all the time bring on an employee that they’re not sure about which only leads to disaster. One of the most critical mistakes you can make when building your team is not listening to your intuition. When you trust your gut, you’ll almost always make the right choice. Your basic instincts will be your greatest guide. Remember this slogan, hire slowly and fire quickly. When you know there’s a problem you take care of it. You get them out before they become a cancer in your business. When somebody does something that shows an integrity issue don’t hesitate to get rid of them. I had a situation with an employee where she displayed a lack of integrity, but we kept her around, and she ended up embezzling almost a quarter-million dollars from us. We got most of it back, but I knew better, and I just didn’t trust my instincts. Despite those small occurrences when the team has had to be pruned or reshaped, I know I wouldn’t be nearly as successful without my team.
I always think of this old African proverb that says “If you want to go fast, go alone but if you want to go far, go together.” There’s no way you can build a business where you become unshackled by yourself. You may be by yourself now as you’re starting to implement things, but eventually, you will have a team. Your team will be your saving grace. My team allows me the freedom to do things like poppin’ off up to Jackson Hole Wyoming for fly-fishing. I know that every day the business will run because we have an amazing team. My job is to organize that team and get the right players in the right positions. I had to teach them, trust them and then send them out to do their work. It all comes back to the foundations that were built when I put my team together, and you can do the same. Just remember, to set clear objectives, be accessible, keep the spark alive and trust your gut.