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.

Excellent Execution

Build your team; accelerate your success

6 thoughts on “Build your team; accelerate your success

  • February 12, 2012 at 10:55 am
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    [This comment was originally posted to a LinkedIn Group]

    Great analogy. We believe in the importance of teamwork and that business teams need diversity. They are most effective if they include those who are predominately Leaders, Learners, Innovators, Managers, and/or Promoters. This is all spelled out at http://www.PerformanceAvenues.com.

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  • February 13, 2012 at 3:44 am
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    I agree that lack of funds is my dilemma and unforeseen popularity as well. How do I capitalize on both issues without selling out my business and not knowing who and how to partner with?

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    • February 13, 2012 at 1:00 pm
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      Joey, I think you will find it hard to be successful if you try to move two projects forward at the same time (unless they are very closely related).

      Concentrate on the one that can get profitable the fastest, then use some of the profits to help fund further ventures.

      On the ‘lack of funds’ issue: if you are just starting a business and don’t have enough funds to move forward, then you are usually limited to the 3Fs – family, friends and fanatics (I don’t use the term ‘fool’ as many do – check my earlier blog, http://wp.me/p1E6lB-4r).

      John H.

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  • February 13, 2012 at 9:48 am
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    This is an excellent analogy for any one starting a business or thinking about starting a business. I look forward to your next blog entry.

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  • February 13, 2012 at 10:57 am
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    [This comment was originally posted to a LinkedIn Group]

    Thanks for sharing John. I agree with Tom that diversity is a great advantage as you build your team. As we have built, adjusted, and developed our team at Brightleaf we continue to be impressed by the value of different thinking – the quality of the ideas is so much greater. Going solo is often cheaper, but it also almost always leads to smaller thinking. I challenge all of us to think bigger, to add specialists to your team – outsource early on, and to do what you can to bring talent and passion into your organization. http://www.brightleafcg.com

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  • February 13, 2012 at 4:01 pm
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    This is an excellent article John. Frequently, new entrepreneurs believe they have to do it all, resulting in things not being done or being done poorly. This significantly reduces the chances of success.

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