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Building a Support Team

Ensure that the people you work with have the skills necessary to expand your business.

If you are like most startup entrepreneurs, you begin with only a kernel of a great idea that you believe will grow into an exceptional business. However, to achieve your greatest success, you need to tap the knowledge and experience of colleagues. Whether it's dealing with taxes or tech, or generating additional sales, working with people who have experience and alternative perspectives will improve your chances for success.

Consultants, sales professionals or part-time assistants can help you move beyond personal limitations. Here's how to stay open to new and varied viewpoints to stimulate your creativity and refocus your energy on different ways to kick-start your business.

  1. Define the challenges you face, not the position you need to fill. Clearly define the skills and experience you need to resolve your current challenges and what outcomes you expect. Providing a clear and compelling purpose establishes a solid springboard for ideas and encourages people to take action toward the same goal. It will also ensure that the people you decide to work with have the skills necessary to expand your business.
  2. Challenge the notion of "this is how it's always been done." You are continually faced with situations that can provide both opportunity and challenges. When interviewing potential team members, gain insight into their work ethics by stating your challenge and asking how they would resolve it. Seek team members who have similar values but provide unique perspectives on growing your business. They will offer solutions and strategies that you may have never thought of.
  3. Get out of your office and obtain referrals. Many people hire out of desperation. It's not until after they've worked with these quick hires that they discover it's not the right fit. Take time to interact with potential hires, and you gain an unbiased view into their personalities, professionalism and work ethic. Use your colleagues' personal insight to find and hire the best people for your team.
  4. Provide regular feedback. Become more effective and create positive energy by keeping an open line of communication with your team members. Providing continual feedback keeps your team moving forward, and it enables you to gain a better understanding of how to improve your business and better serve your customers.
  5. Maintain momentum by building loyalty. It takes time to get new team members familiar with your business and its customers. Plan regular gatherings to sustain employee morale, and recognize outstanding team members with a public thank-you or hand-written note. These acknowledgements go a long way toward motivating your team and keeping them committed to your success.

Speaker and consultant Romanus Wolter, aka "The Kick Start Guy," is the author of Kick Start Your Dream Business. Write to him atromanus@kickstartguy.com.

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This article was originally published in the March 2009 print edition of Entrepreneur's StartUps with the headline: Building a Support Team.

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