The value of a great team

I’ll get straight to the point: If you’re a company owner and find yourself prioritising the bottom line, chances are you’ll never truly progress. A company isn’t simply a load of numbers on a spreadsheet, it’s a team of people all working towards the same end goal.

It’s easier said than done when you have bills to pay and targets to hit. If you’ve hired great people, these challenges are shared throughout the office; everyone is invested. If you obsess over the numbers you’ll end up projecting the wrong message onto your staff.

All this will do is unnecessarily raise stress levels, creating a difficult environment to work in. I’ve seen this happen first hand. It’s not good!

Finding the balance is important, but I’d always prefer to trust your team to get results as opposed to micromanaging.

The first thing you need to do is make sure you hire truly brilliant people. This couldn’t be more important in a startup where every person needs to be justified. Once you’ve identified your core founding team you’ll need to start thinking about the salary you can offer – probably as well as some equity. Generally speaking, the earlier stage you are, the riskier it is working for you; that’s why you sweeten the deal with some equity.

Once you have an established team, they need to be given the opportunity to flourish. There’s rarely a rigid set of responsibilities in a startup — everyone needs to muck in wherever they’re needed. Take Steamhaus for example; at the beginning we all pretty much did everything. It’s only recently that we’ve started becoming more focused on our respective areas of expertise. Chances are we’ll always be dipping into every part of the business and pitching in.

That’s what happens when everyone’s opinion is valued in each area, or when no-one remembers who orders the toilet roll or kitchen cleaner from Amazon.

There’s a big emphasis nowadays on teams that are more than just co-workers. Some companies believe that you should never mix your work life with your private, but we disagree. The atmosphere in our office is fantastic! We’re all close, which means we all trust each other to do a great job. It also means that we have a drink together on Friday nights and talk over the weekend.

Making sure a new hire fits in to your businesses culture is vital. You can see whether someone is going to be a good fit within the first few days of working with them. If they don’t gel with everyone it doesn’t matter how skilled they are. Make use of that probationary period for this and listen to the rest of the team. They will instinctively know whether someone is a match with the company’s ethics and values.

I always see the quote “If you don’t build your dream someone will hire you to build theirs” on LinkedIn. This attitude all but disappears when the company is owned by the team AND equity shared. It’s no longer one person’s dream; it’s everyone’s.

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