Team building is a crucial part of your success story as an entrepreneur. It is so crucial that I have personally coined up two words to better convey the importance of building a team – vision partners.
Team building is about creating vision partners for your business. You see, business is a team’s sport, and only the teams with the best players win!
Very early in my entrepreneurial journey, I learnt this valuable business lesson about team building, thanks to Robert Kiyosaki.
Learning this principle about team building was such a great eye opener for me, it made me arrive at two critical decisions that have served me well as an entrepreneur.
- To never go on this entrepreneurial journey alone.
- To always be on the lookout for the best players to bring onboard.
Many entrepreneurs don’t take this issue of team building very seriously. If they even do, it’s often later in their entrepreneurial journey, rather than early, that they begin to consider this issue seriously.
Here’s the plain truth; all other things you need in your business to make it work can’t work without people. So pushing this issue of team building aside until later in your entrepreneurial journey isn’t quite a smart choice.
Now is the time to begin to prioritize the need to surround yourself and your business with the best available minds, talents and skills you can find. Having them around early will make the difference between success and failure on the long run!
Debunking the #1 Myth of Team Building
Before going ahead to the 5 winning qualities of the right team players, I want to quickly debunk a prevailing myth many entrepreneurs have about team building. What’s this myth?
You Need Money to Hire the Best Teams
This is often the most prevailing reason many entrepreneurs give for not building a team early enough in their entrepreneurial journey. They allow the lack of money to limit their potentials to attract the best team members.
This is one of those entrepreneurial fallacies and myths about team building that needs to be debunked. And I will give you some real life examples to validate this.
Was built by assembling the best online marketing minds Brian Clark met along his entrepreneurial journey. These were people like himself who were also passionate about building a digital media company.
All he had to do to get them onboard was to share the vision of a preferable future if they all decide to work together as a team. At the time of bringing them onboard, he didn’t have any money set aside to pay as salaries for each of them. He only presented the opportunity for collaboration and left the products they would co-create to determine how much financial reward they would all get.
Through this, he was able to get such A-list online entrepreneurs such as Sonia Simone, Chris Garret, Tony Clark, Brian Gardner, Robert Bruce, and others on his team. Every one of these guys had their own businesses and was doing well by themselves. But the opportunity of working together was going to make them become greater than they could have achieved alone.
- Apple Inc.
When Apple was founded by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne, they didn’t have any salary structures in place to pay for the founding team members they brought onboard. The potentials of the opportunity they were introduced to presented enough motivation that inspired them to get onboard while deferring their financial compensation till later.
If Steve Jobs had let the thought of not having enough money hold him back from reaching out to get the best players onboard, Apple wouldn’t have become the success story it is today. Rather, he allowed the enormity of the opportunity they were all pursuing to determine how much they all stood to gain if they all worked together to make it a success.
Mark Zuckerberg built facebook through his founding team members he assembled on campus. They comprised of his college roommates and fellow Harvard University students Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, Dustin Moskovitz, and Chris Hughes.
Just imagine how much money he had to pay them to get them onboard early on his entrepreneurial journey?
Again, he only shared the potentials of the opportunity they were going to all pursue together and allowed the product they would co-create determine how much they were each going to get paid when it became a success.
Money is a Factor, But NOT a Limitation of Team Building
It’s a fact you do need to consider the financial reward of each vision partner you want to bring onboard, but it’s not up to you. It’s up to the opportunity!
When starting out, nothing can be more obvious than your inability to pay for the right vision partners. If you had the money to pay them, they wouldn’t qualify as vision partners would they?
So stop trying to magnify your inability to pay, the right vision partners are already aware of this. They aren’t counting on you to pay them what they know you can’t afford when starting out, they are only counting on your leadership.
They realize it’s up to the vision to provide the financial reward that will compensate for their contributions. What they require from you far more than you can ever afford financially is your leadership.
Much more than they believe the vision and want to pursue the opportunity together, they have to believe in your capacity as their leader to help them successfully deliver the vision. Stop focusing on your lack of money to hire the best teams, rather focus on your capacity as an entrepreneurial leader assembling a team of vision partners.
TEAM BUILDING CHECKLIST: 5 Winning Qualities of the Right VISION PARTNERS
Now that we’ve debunked the #1 myth of team building, it’s time to talk about the 5 winning qualities of the right vision partners. These are the checklist I have used to choose my vision partners over my 10 years in business. They have served me well; I hope they do the same for you too!
- They get IT
- They get YOU
- They get ON with it
- They get THERE with you
- They get READY for what’s next
They get IT
The first winning quality of the right vision partners is that ‘they get IT’. What do I mean by ‘they get IT’?
In team building, there are essentially 3 core attributes the right vision partners need to get that qualifies them to come onboard. And this is what I mean by ‘they get IT’; the ‘IT’ here represents these core attributes;
Not everyone can or should qualify to join your team of vision partners, only the right people should make the team. Its more headache trying to change the wrong person into the right person for your team than it is to diligently seek out and enlist the right person.
Remember what you are looking for is a vision partner, so having a shared vision is one of the distinguishing qualities you need to lookout. The right vision partner is someone who also shares the same vision as you the founder of the company.
- He/she must also want to build a business that MATTERS.
- He/she must also seek to change the world and profit from purpose as you.
- He/she must also buy into the purpose, vision and mission of the company.
- He/she must also be passionate about the products/services you are co-creating together.
- He/she must also be passionate about the problems you are in business to solve for your target customers.
The second core attribute they need to get is shared values. It’s difficult to build a team of vision partners with conflicting values. Your values are what dictate your intentions [thoughts], actions [activities] as well as dispositions [behaviours]. They constitute the internal codes that power your external realities.
Team building without shared values is the recipe for disaster. Why? Because you will never be able to align the thoughts, activities and behaviours of your vision partners towards achieving the shared vision of the company.
Shared values are what will determine the culture and personality of the organization. That’s why your team of vision partners must;
- Exemplify similar virtues.
- Possess similar work ethics.
- Passionate about similar ideas.
- Uphold similar principles of life.
- Share similar business philosophy.
The third core attribute your team of vision partners needs to get is complementary skills. The whole essence of team building is to maximize your results by amplifying your efforts. In other words, together efforts achieve more.
So you shouldn’t be on the lookout for a duplicate of yourself but rather you should seek out a complement of yourself. Don’t select someone that has the same skill set just like you, rather select someone that possesses the skill set that you lack.
The goal is to see your business as a big puzzle and your team of vision partners as the different pieces of the puzzle that needs to be fit together to complete the puzzle. So it doesn’t quite pay to have the same skill set onboard as vision partners. You need people with complementary skills.
This is very crucial because as the business grows, each of them will then duplicate themselves by hiring more of their kinds to facilitate that specific operational function.
They get YOU
When it comes to team building, as I have mentioned earlier above, your fundamental role and function on the team is leadership. Your vision partners are counting on your capacity to function as an entrepreneurial leader.
They need your guidance and direction to be able to work together in co-creating the shared vision of the business. So it’s absolutely important they also buy into you as the leader of the business and not just into the vision alone.
This is what I mean by ‘they get YOU’.
- Getting YOU is about your vision partner’s unwavering believe in your capacity and the trust earned from your character as a person.
- Getting YOU is about your vision partner’s mutual understanding of what you are trying to accomplish through the business.
- Getting YOU is about your vision partner’s unwavering commitment to submit to your leadership.
- Getting YOU is about your vision partner’s knowledge of you, admiration for what you are trying to accomplish, and the confidence that you can deliver.
They get ON with it
In team building, the right vision partners are master executors. They are not time wasters or eye-service workers. They are neither slothful nor deceitful. They work without supervision and don’t need to be micro-managed.
This is because they first get IT and then they get YOU, so it’s time to get ON with it. For them, these two winning qualities serve as the basis of their internal motivation to execute persistently. They work because they do what they love and love what they do. For them, work is play!
This is what I mean by ‘they get ON with it’.
So the right vision partner is anyone you’ve carefully observed and repeatedly seen exhibiting the following principles of self mastery;
- Being proactive – taking initiatives without being told
- Beginning with the End in Mind – aligning actions with purpose
- Putting First Things First – working according to priority
They get THERE with you
When it comes to team building, the right vision partners are those who are in it for the long haul. The entrepreneurial journey as I have often said is not a sprint, but a marathon. Building a business that MATTERS takes time.
So you wouldn’t be doing yourself and your business any favour if you surround yourself with short term vision partners. These are the people who are only in it for the immediate gain your business brings. They are always looking for a quick exit strategy; they want to make it big and fast, and then cash out.
The right vision partners don’t just get IT or get YOU or get ON with it; they also want to get THERE with you. For them, the journey is as important as the destination.
This is what I mean by ‘they get THERE with you’.
- Getting THERE with you is about your vision partner’s commitment to the cause/vision/purpose/mission.
- Getting THERE with you is about your vision partner’s willingness to integrate their dreams into yours to make it bigger, better and greater.
- Getting THERE with you is about your vision partner’s capacity to hang on regardless of other tempting opportunities out there within their reach.
They get READY for what’s next
In team building, the right vision partners don’t rest on their laurels. They realize there’s always more out there that needs to be done. So they are never complacent as a result of today’s achievements, no. They are always ever reaching out for what’s next.
One of the dangers of success is the hubris that comes with it. In his book “How the Mighty Fall”, management Guru Jim Collins has this to say about the hubris born of success;
“Great enterprises can become insulated by success; accumulated momentum can carry an enterprise forward for a while, even if its leaders make poor decisions or lose discipline. The hubris born of success kicks in when people become arrogant, regarding success virtually as an entitlement and they lose sight of the true underlying factors that created success in the first place. When the rhetoric of success (“We’re successful because we do these specific things”) replaces penetrating understanding and insight (“We’re successful because we understand why we do these specific things and under what conditions they would no longer work”), decline will very likely follow.”
The right vision partners never lose sight of the underlying factors, principles and processes that makes them successful, no. They never relent on their quest to achieve their purpose despite how successful they must have come. They keep on raising the bar!
This is what I mean by ‘they get READY for what’s next’.
- Getting READY for what’s next is about your vision partner’s dedication to their craft.
- Getting READY for what’s next is about your vision partner’s discipline to keep sharpening the saw – improving themselves.
- Getting READY for what’s next is about your vision partner’s capacity to be more and do more than has been done before.
Don’t wait till you are big before you start choosing the right vision partners. Team building is possible for you even as a startup with no money. The potentials of your business idea and the opportunity it presents is enough compensation to get the right team onboard.
And don’t forget to keep in mind these 5 winning qualities of the right vision partners;
- They get IT
- They get YOU
- They get ON with it
- They get THERE with you
- They get READY for what’s next
I am sure there are more to these 5 team building checklists for entrepreneurs; feel free to add your own in the comments. Thanks!
Wow! Great article Tito.
I must confess that I also have that belief that it requires money to build your vision partners to make your team complete. But with these ‘Team Checklist’ I’ve had a paradigm shift when it comes to building your vision partners.
Thank Tito. You’ve done it again…Building my Business IQ!
Now you can begin assembling your vision partners for PASS for Life. When the potentials of the opportunity is big enough and truly matters, the right vision partners will not be too difficult to win on board.
All the best!
Great and Thanks Philips!
Glad you enjoyed it Poudjom. It’s one article that’s been a long time coming!
Great Post Tito.
In my past company building a perfect team was a very tough task. But now everything is Good. everyone is focusing on their work equally.
That’s nice Surah, so what steps did you take to build this perfect team Surah? Kindly share with us?
Thank you Tito, this is very well put together. However, the reality is that most of those who meet these criteria prefer to be the ‘YOU’ others will get. I have made several attempts to build a team you have described here but to no avail due to the fact that most entrepreneurs prefer to be alone ranger or better still the leader in the team. The strategy I am now using that works is the adoption of ‘strategic alliance’. The difference is that in strategic alliance, the partners see themselves as independent parties pulling resources together to achieve a common goal. The disadvantage in this is that there is the possibility of conflict of interests and/or disloyalty in the long-run. Team work is always the best but it takes time to build it completely.
I completely relate with what you have described here. It can only come from someone like yourself who have threaded this team building part.
I experienced this too, really. And as a matter of fact, I started with strategic alliance with some of my team members at first. And in some way, Brian Clark of Copyblogger Media also started with strategic alliance with his vision partners before becoming full partners.
So, it still boils down in the end to two things; the potentials of the vision/opportunity and the leadership of the entrepreneur with the vision. If what you are trying to accomplish is common and nothing special, then these vision partners can decide to be on their own. After all, why leave their’s to follow you?
Your leadership mostly boils down to your track record and capacity to deliver. If they believe they are better than you, trust me, they won’t follow you. I have been in such team twice, I had to eventually leave. You need to possess something that none of them possesses that is so crucial to the vision. If not, they won’t follow. You have to be someone they truly admire as a result of your track record and capacity to make unusual things happen!
Thank you once again Tito. I think we are headed towards a conclusion here. From your last response, it can be deduced that in every team it is either that you are joining as a vision supporter- what I call ‘provision for the vision’ or you are actually the vision custodian in which case, you are the team builder.
As against the case of a vision supporter looking for a team to join, this article is valid in the case where the vision custodian is the one building a team of vision partners. And for him to be successful, he has to be more loaded compared to the rest of the team members.
Spot on Mayowa….this unusual article is for the entrepreneur in search of vision partners for his business.
well laid piece.
Now that am starting a new company.
Identified a vision partner and so far all looks well as we gear to start in 1st August 2015.
as a leader i have shortcomings that i will work on before we start.
Nice to hear that Daniel, wishing you all the best in your new start up!
I have read this post over and over and keep coming back for it. I have referred over a handful of people to learn how to build teams. Thanks boss Philips.
You are welcome Jerry, glad the article was helpful in your search for vision partners. Thank you for the feedback.
Actually that was my first comment on your powerful blog, though I’ve been visiting for the past 2years nearly weekly… You have more audience than you think.