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4 Steps to Building a Successful Team Your team isn't just the people who work directly for you.

By James Harris Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


My business partner David Parnes and I have sold over $600 million in real estate this year, however our path toward success wasn't easy, and it was a team effort. We started by knocking on doors to find listings and have learned many lessons along the way. After David and I landed starring roles on the television series Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles, entrepreneurs from all over the world started emailing us to ask for advice on how to succeed in business. Their questions inspired me to write this series for

Related: You Don't Need to Be a Master Fundraiser or Networker to Be Successful. You Just Need to Find the Right Team.

This article answers a question that David and I often receive: "How do you build a successful team?" We have an immediate team of four people, however we collaborate with many more in our network and consider all of those people team members. Think of your network as your army.

Here are the four steps to building a successful team.

Step 1: Staff up.

David and I started out with just the two of us. As soon as we had a few sales under our belts and started building our listing inventory, we hired an assistant to help us with marketing and scheduling so we had more time to handle showings and networking. As we got busier, one assistant grew to two assistants. With our increased media exposure, we saw our business really take off and realized that in order to manage the incredible amount of leads that were coming our way, we needed to effectively manage our growing listing inventory, and oversee our escrows. We needed someone with experience who could fully manage our team. We hired the right person, and she has become the backbone of our business. She is able to manage operations so that we can focus our energies on obtaining listings, handling showings, networking and marketing.

We also decided to keep our immediate team very small and focused. There are only four of us, and we are in constant communication on everything -- we copy each other on all emails and texts. We operate like a well-oiled machine. We each have our strengths and instinctively know what we need to do. Our motto is "divide and conquer." It is also important to incentivize and reward people; when we close a deal, everyone gets paid.

Related: Filmmaker Ken Burns Explains How to Build a Team You'd Trust in Battle

Our strategy for building a team applies to anyone from a tech startup to a small ecommerce business. It is important to find team members that can focus on different segments of the business, administration, business development, sales and customer service. Administrative staff can help executives at tech startups stay organized and prioritize to-do lists. Customer service associates for ecommerce businesses are imperative for ensuring customer satisfaction. Business development and sales associates can focus on helping you grow your business while you are focused on your next innovation. Building the right team, and delegating responsibilities to them, will help your business thrive.

Step 2: Find the right freelancers or contractors.

In addition to your internal team, you'll want to find a great team of freelancers and contractors. We have an amazing internal creative agency, The Agency Creates, with a staff of graphic designers, and branding experts for our collateral needs. That said, most startups and small businesses don't have the luxury of having an internal creative agency to help develop marketing and advertising materials. There are many freelance graphic designers that you can find that do incredible work. Research online to view portfolios and interview with several freelancers to ensure that they can work within your deadlines. Start with one small job and if all goes well, continue to work with the same person. You can find freelancers in almost any area to service your needs. Once you find the right freelancers to do the job, continue to work closely with them because they are important team members.

Related: How to Build a High-Performance Team

Step 3: Collaborate locally.

The real estate firm that we are partnered with, The Agency, prides itself on collaboration, and we always welcome agents to co-list with us. Our media presence allows us to provide extra exposure for our co-listing partners and we are always open to collaborations. Likewise, we also co-list with other agents at the firm. There have been occasions where we have had an opportunity in a certain area that may be covered by another agent, and we will bring that agent in with us. It works both ways. Find partners that you can collaborate with for mutually beneficial relationships. We have found that being inclusive to collaborators helps us build our business because it opens the door to opportunities that we may not have otherwise been considered for.

Step 4: Collaborate globally.

We receive many inquiries from clients and agents all over the world from our exposure on Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles. We also have relationships with many international agents and brokers through our affiliation with Savills. Building an alliance of international agents and brokers allows us to have a thriving referral business. Sometimes we are also involved in marketing international properties to our client base in Los Angeles.

Related: This Innovation Expert Tells You How to Develop Strong Teams

I encourage everyone to build an alliance of team members all over the world so you can offer your clients a global reach, and profit from a wide reaching referral business. We now live in a global society and every business can benefit from exploring international markets. Research global markets to find where your business might thrive and start networking with people who can help you in those markets. Once you've identified potential collaborators, develop a pitch package that outlines how you can help those contacts in your domestic market. People are more likely to help you in their market if you can return the favor in your market. If you build a team of partners and collaborators in international markets, you can build a global business that takes advantage of global opportunities and extend your reach globally.

I look forward to bringing you a new article each week and would love to hear your questions. Please tweet your questions to @jamesBondSt with the tags #Entrepreneur @Entrepreneur, or look for my Instagram post about this article and include your question in the comments and tag #Entrepreneur. I will answer some of your questions directly, and answer some in this series.

Don't forget to tune in to Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles, Thursdays at 9/8c on Bravo!
James Harris

Co-Founder, Bond Street Partners

James Harris is one of the most successful real estate brokers in the U.S. He is co-founder of Bond Street Partners, director of The Agency Real Estate and co-founder of Harris is also the star of the hit television series Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles, airing Thursdays at 9/8c on Bravo.

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