Building a Dream Team

If there’s one thing that characterises Beermat, it’s people. And once you’ve got your Cornerstones, the five people at the heart of the business, you’ll need even more people. They’re your Dream Team, and here Mike explains what they look like.

Elsewhere, we have looked at entrepreneurs and the ‘cornerstones’ they need around them: those invaluable half-entrepreneur, half-professionals. Small businesses can run for a while with just these five people, plus a ‘gopher’ maybe, but the time almost always comes to take on new staff.

It’s a crucial moment. You’re still small, and introducing the wrong individuals can cause real cultural shifts – in the wrong direction. What sort of people do you need? How do you find – and retain – them?

Their most important characteristic is simple enthusiasm. They must, of course, be competent, but they don’t have to be ‘professionals’. Their bosses, the cornerstones, will teach them the minutiae of their jobs. What they bring to the party is commitment, a measure of skill and a sense of fun. In this, they are very like players in a sports team.

The analogy between business and sport is at its closest when enterprises are in this ‘sapling’ stage. So motivate your new recruits like the great sports managers. Lead by example. Celebrate success – and get everyone involved in the celebration, as a win for one is a win for all. Minimize office politics by creating an atmosphere of equality and openness.

Don’t bother with formal team-building exercises. There are enough challenges facing the business without having to manufacture them. The best place to build ‘Dream Teams’ for your sapling enterprise is not the Brecon Beacons but the local pub. Get everyone down there on Friday; buy the drinks; have a great evening. And listen carefully to what people say – not to hold against them later but to understand them. Treated this way, your people won’t want to leave.

The best way to recruit your ‘Dream Team’ is by personal contact. Your people should think that working in your company is brilliant, and should be telling their mates that. And if one of these mates wants to join, and you all think they have the right stuff – ask everyone – congratulations! It’s a much better mechanism than interviews (artificial scenarios that can be ‘learnt’) or ponderous psychometric indicators.

When the business gets beyond about twenty employees, this wonderful, spring-like feel begins to wither away. Some businesses decide to stay small for exactly that reason. Others have no choice but to grow. So cherish this time in your enterprise’s life: it’s about as much fun as you can have.


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