Let’s look at how to assemble a Core Team that both protects your business in an emergency and lessens your day-to-day stress.
I often find that business owners are the greatest bottleneck in their business. They tend to hold their business in their heads, so no one else has important context like the vision, goals, or budgets. This means owners unintentionally set up a structure that makes everyone and everything dependent on their decisions. What’s most effective is the inverse – you, the owner, support a Core Team, and they manage the day-to-day operations and other employees. This frees you up to focus on strategic growth and relationships. Plus, in the event something happens to you, your business is equipped to function independently. So let’s look specifically at how to put a Core Team together.
First, list all the areas of your business that require attention and action. It’s important to have a team that represents Sales & Marketing; Operations; HR; Accounting; and Technology. Some of those you may wish to combine. Small businesses usually combine HR and Accounting. Technology could fall under the umbrella of Operations. I leave that to your discretion.
Second, identify employees who demonstrate leadership ability and good judgment. Employees bring with them a wealth of work and life experience, and having their perspective makes decisions better. When you have a group of them representing all facets of your business and jointly making decisions, the effect is powerful. You may be thinking that you don’t currently have everyone you need to form a team. But, having specific abilities and qualities in mind will help you focus your hiring efforts. Plus, it will show you areas where maybe you could reach out to a trusted vendor to fill any gaps.
Third, begin to meet weekly to brainstorm and make decisions as a team. It may take a little while for everyone to find their voice. Make it clear that they’re a critical part of the decision-making process. Also, nothing takes the steam out of a meeting faster than using all the time to recap information that could have just been emailed. So keep your meetings focused on brainstorming new ideas and creative problem solving.
And lastly, start to transition daily operations to your team. Share budgets and financials so they have context. Work together to establish goals with actionable details like who’s taking the lead on a project, what needs to be accomplished, and when the group expects to see progress. The goal is for your company to function with self-accountability and without your daily involvement. A good Core Team can make that happen, so invest in them!
Now you know why you need a Core Team and how to put one together, so let’s look at what impact that has on your business. For starters, the impact on your operations includes reducing the bottleneck that happens when every decision rests with you. Your systems will be stronger because they’ll be created from a more inclusive point of view. Better systems lead to improved capacity. Plus, people work more effectively when they have context and a clear sense of purpose. And that’s just for starters.
The impact on your HR and morale can be profound. Employees feel so much more invested when they have a voice and can really use their talents. Having seats at the decision-making table is a great way to retain rock star employees. And, it’s been proven in numerous studies that encouraging diverse points of view makes solutions more creative, client-friendly, and ultimately more profitable.
The impact on your Sales & Marketing includes getting routine tasks off your plate so you can focus on strategic growth. I’ve lost track of how many times a business owner has said to me: “I have a list of great ideas I’d love to work on, if only I had the time.” Well this is your shot at the title! Developing your Core Team will give you time to look for more resources, nurture relationships, and act on your idea list.
Just so you know this is worth the effort, I work with a client who has a rock star Core Team. In less than 24 months their decisions and efforts helped grow the company 100% — yes, they doubled the business. They also consistently hit their target profit margin, and they’ve socked away 6 months of reserves. The owner is working only on the most strategic visionary issues, and all the daily management is left to the team’s discretion. It has transformed the company in every way, and the owner has repeatedly stated there’s no way he could have accomplished all this alone.