The 10 Secrets To Building Your Team (Secrets 1 to 5)

Do you feel all alone? Trying to build a business? Think you’re really going to get there? With no help? With no support?

Dream on my friend.

It’s a fallacy to think you can build a company by yourself. Oh, but wait: You call yourself a “solopreneur”? Don’t be silly. Just because you think you’re a one-man band — you cannot pull off a killer stage show by yourself. You need help. You need a team.

Ticking away in the back of your head — you know this. But how do you do it? Where do you start? What plan do you follow to build a killer team?

My friend Tom Post on Forbes asked me to help you.

So, without one more word of delay; I give you the first five Secrets on Team Building…


Secret #1: No Team Equals No Dream
Okay, that’s sounds corny. But wait a minute. Who cares? Read it again —

No Team Equals No Dream.

If you have aspirations and dreams as an entrepreneur; you will NEVER reach them without a solid team of players. Period.

It is critical you recognize this right now. You simply cannot do it alone. Yes; you have amazing talents. Yes; you probably have an earth shattering idea. And yes; you’re probably a workaholic machine who can climb mountains in a raging storm.

I don’t care. You still won’t build a business by yourself.

I see a lot of entrepreneurs attempting to go it alone. Thinking they don’t really need that much help. Maybe it’s ego; maybe it’s just a lack of understanding. But whatever it is; one thing’s for sure: It’s a mistake.

So stamp this on your forehead — etch it on the top of your desk. Being an entrepreneur is a team sport.

Got it?


Secret #2: Character First; Talent Second
Imagine where you want to go as an entrepreneur. Now imagine you have a team. So how are you going to get to your destination?

Get a bus.

Jim Collins planted this little gem in my brain with the third chapter of his book “Good to Great”. You own a bus. You need to fill that bus with the right people for your business. The perfect team-mates.

So how do you start?

Hire character first.

Yes, I know — you need skill. You need a rocking good salesperson; you need a talented programmer, you need a masterful marketer.

But let me tell you right now: It is far better to have a slightly less skilled salesperson with solid character; then an off the charts sales guru who lies, cheats, steals and smells bad to boot.

Ask any successful entrepreneur who has built and managed teams how important this is. As a matter of fact; I did ask a successful entrepreneur: Co-Founder and CEO Sam Blackman of Elemental Technologies; a company who has raised $29.6M in venture capital with 72 employees; gave me this nugget of wisdom:

“We hire a person only if they are a technical fit as well as a cultural fit. The candidate has to be strong on both fronts to earn an offer letter. It slows down the hiring process; and we have positions go unfilled for a long time as we wait — but this tradeoff is worth it.”

So, when inviting people on your bus — think integrity; honesty; core values; respectfulness and loyalty.

You won’t regret it.


Secret #3: Kicking People Off The Bus is Hard
Do you know why we put secret #2 before #3? Because it’s a nightmare trying to get the wrong people off your bus once they’re on it.

You cannot imagine the pain of making a mistake in hiring. Dripping sweat off the forehead; racing heartbeat visibly pounding through your shirt; staring bug-eyed at the ceiling in a full on stress attack at 4am. Knowing you have to make a change.

Are you getting this? Do you feel my pain? Is it hitting home how hard it is to fix a bus headed for the cliff because it’s got the wrong people on it?

A serial entrepreneur friend of mine shared with me a time he wrestled with the devil on this one.

Having to fire 7 people in one day — he threw up two times. Literally.


So be careful who you invite on the bus to begin with, will you? 🙂


Secret #4: No Spitwads on the Bus — Culture From the Start
What does Apple; Google and Zappos have in common?

Unbelievably powerful cultures.

Now, I don’t know: Maybe spitwads are allowed at these companies. And you know what? Whatever. From my memories of junior high, it was pretty fun. Until the driver stopped the bus and started walking down the aisle. Steam coming off his eyebrows. Not so much fun then.

So what’s the point? Be sure you are building your culture from the start. Bringing on team members who flow with your culture. Who fit the mesh. If you want spitwads flying across the lunch room; make sure everyone you bring on is good with getting whacked with a spitwad.

I read a great article by a writer for Techli named Kate Hough. You should go read it and come back.

See what I mean? Establish the right culture from the start.


Secret #5: Recruitment — Things Aren’t Like the Olden Days
So where do you find the great ones? You know, the killer team members who can help make or break your company?

Well, one thing’s for sure; they’re not looking for work on Craigslist. I mean, come on now.

Yes; you can find someone to mow your lawn on Craigslist. But we’re not talking about mowing your lawn — unless you do professional lawn contests for a living.

No, you need real rock stars; with real talent; and real character. So where are they?

Well, they’re already working for someone else silly. Duh. I mean why wouldn’t they be? They’re rock stars.

My friend J.T. O’Donnell, Founder and CEO of CareerRealism, woke me up to this reality in her post on FastCompany.

In a nutshell, you have to use good attraction and persuasion strategies to find the best. Put your best foot forward in seeking out and recruiting your team. J.T. calls it “employment branding” and “authority marketing”.

Call it whatever you want — but the ability to recruit and persuade the right people to join your team is huge.



So there you have it. The first Five of the Ten Secrets to Team Building.  The last Five Secrets will be revealed to you next week.

So go get ‘em tiger. You’re an on-fire entrepreneur and you’ve now got a rockin’ good team on your bus.

Drive carefully my friend.

Article by:  Eric T. Wagner
First published Jun 19, 2012


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