My granddaughter Sydney just started walking. She’s doing pretty well by herself, but every once in awhile she still needs a bit of support, something to hang on to. To get her balance. To be able to perform at her best. People around her can demonstrate all the skills and knowledge they have, but if Syd doesn’t have the support she needs, she’s going to fall!
In the same way, very small business owners need support, first and foremost, from their teams.
Support and fit are the differences between the team you build for your company and the teams you may have worked with in a corporate or big business setting.
#1. You need support
When you’re building your own small business team, the number one thing you need is support. Not skills. Not experience. Not knowledge. It’s support. Let’s say that again: you need support.
At the end of the day, you’re the one with your neck on the line. You’re the one who’s made the investment, the promises, the commitments. You need to deliver, and you need support in order to do that well and consistently.
Many business owners are tempted to hire team members for specific skill sets and specialized knowledge, and that’s all well and good, down the line. You do need these things. But remember that now, in your business, this is for you: the whole shootin’ match depends on you. So while you’re looking at that person with the great technical skills or the terrific sales record, think about the two of you working together side-by-side on a project and ask yourself, “Will this person be able to really support me like I need him to?”
#2. You need people who fit your personality, values, and philosophies
You need this to stay sane. This is not really taken into account in big business — you get who you get on your team, and they’re usually hired by HR. But in a very small business, it’s really important, especially to you, the owner, to be working with people who fit you and “get” you. You need this to feel totally supported (see #1) — you really need to be understood by your team.
Make a list of your personality quirks, values, and philosophies — your team may not match all of them, but you’ll work better with people who do. Would you like to work with people who are patient and willing to flow with your eccentric personality? Put that on your list. Is it more important to you that the work gets done to your exacting standards than that it gets done at a certain time, or vice versa? If you’re hiring someone who’s going to work very closely with you, it may be important to you that they see eye to eye with you philosophically. It really pays to think about what kind of people you work best with. (Of course, you can’t discriminate against someone for religion, race, or disability, but you wouldn’t do that anyway.)
Bottom line: People are people, and depending on how close you’re going to be working with them, you’ll want to feel like they’re part of your “team.” You’ll want a rapport, a relationship with them, so you can begin to read each other. Remember Murphy Brown’s house painter? Eldin was a part of Murphy’s team, even though he wasn’t a traditional hired employee, and he really fit her personality. If you want to be able to count on someone the way Murphy counted on Eldin, you have to start thinking of them as part of your team — people who can support you and fit your personality, values, and philosophies.