People first, right? We hear it all the time, but many new business owners don’t take the time to strategize about the type of team they want to build. Maybe they are too busy or see people as small, replaceable bits in a big moving picture. Whatever the case, now you are the business owner, and have the good fortune and freedom to bring these simple words to action.
So, how to do it? It’s not magic but requires some technical intelligence – diligence and planning – combined with some emotional intelligence, accountability and goodwill.
First, be sure you know what your business goals are. Create an audacious plan, then work in reverse, narrowing it down to smaller, more manageable parts, by quarter than by month. When your long- and near-term plans are clearly defined, then you are ready to bring together the people who can help you achieve them.
Create a plan or map of goals and priorities and save them to a shared drive. Everyone – legal, business development, sales, tech, editorial – needs access and team members should be able to reference them wherever, whenever. If you make significant changes, be sure to alert everyone. By acting in a logical way that is thoughtful and considerate, it sets an example and expectation.
The values and culture
Transparency and accountability to each other are two essential components of high-functioning teams. When you have talented people, there is an opportunity for each to learn from the other, thereby increasing the skills of individual members through association. Set a tone of respect for each other’s capabilities, or even designated “champs.” My team has an ESG (Environmental/Social/Governance) champion who is a great resource to myself and others. Be accountable to deadlines and meetings. Maybe even try to consider what each person’s job is like. Being able to look at the world through another’s eyes – even for a short time – will increase your business acumen as well as your empathy.
It’s important to develop a communication strategy. I know some technically minded people who struggle to hold themselves accountable to meetings with their staff, even monthly. But being a clear and reliable communicator is one of the best investments you can make in the stability of your team. When the team knows what to expect from you, you can learn what to expect from them, thereby building trust. Regular meetings – whether video, F2F, or phone – accomplish many things. First, they help create routine amidst early-stage chaos. Second, they help create connections when people may be spread around the country or the world. And third, they are an opportunity to build goodwill together. In these times when shared offices are less common, it is critical to find a way to stay connected beyond impersonal email.
My focus as a business owner is on my people first. I know that if I take care and focus on my team foremost, then there will be a ripple effect. By developing a culture of consideration amongst each other, it will extend naturally toward our customers and clients.