So, here I am, doing what I often do on a Saturday morning – watching Barclays’ Premier League football matches (at least as I do during the BPL season); and being reminded of the importance of teamwork, with the occasional input of individual brilliance, to the success of any team – a lesson for all those solo-preneurs out there.
A football team has eleven (11) players on the pitch (as long as no-one has been sent off by the referee!!). The players have four main specialties – goalkeeper, defender, midfielder, or forward. Within these four specialties there are sub-specialties; midfielders can be defensive or attacking midfielders, for instance. While players have a primary role/position that they play, they support and cover for each other.
The manager has seven substitutes on the bench of which he can use any three. Once a player is taken out of the game (substituted) he can not return. The manager has to have a willingness to change the tactics being used on the field and to use his available substitutes to, when necessary, implement those changes. The substitutes are also used when one of the team can no longer continue.
What does this have to do with being an entrepreneur?
When an entrepreneur starts a business, on their own or with a partner, there is a period of time when they may need to operate on their own as they flesh out the feasibility and reasonableness of their business idea before expending too much of their time and money.
Depending on your business and your business model, you may think that you can be successful as a solopreneur. But as soon as you start to use a bookkeeper, or someone to create your website, you are starting to build a team around you. If you try to minimize (versus optimize) the size of your team, you will probably minimize your level of success.
It is never to early to start building your team – or I should say teams – around you; advisors, mentors, potential future and current operational team members, etc.
The point at which the entrepreneur acknowledges that they can’t (and shouldn’t) be doing everything themselves should come very early in the development of the business – unfortunately, too many hold off from building their teams for too long – because, in my experience, the entrepreneur always sees a boost in the speed of their business progress when they surround themselves with good team members.
Lack of funds is often cited as a reason why solopreneurs continue to try and do everything for themselves, and at the time they are asked the question it is often true. Unfortunately, in many cases, this is due to a lack of earlier planning and unreasonable expectations on the part of the entrepreneur (subjects I have talked about before in this blog).
My advice is to a) take the time to understand where you are going to need help (and keep reviewing these needs as you make progress); b) understand what it will take to obtain that help; and c) start identifying who the potential resources are that can fill your need.
As the football team manager, pay attention to how the different players work together, don’t be afraid to change the team’s tactics or substitute players when necessary, and allow your individual players to show their brilliance.