Assembling my thoughts to write an entrepreneurial personal again this week, my mind began to drift to news items I have read in the realm of economic development strategies for the Okanagan Valley.
I thought about young people’s attraction to the valley landscape to enhance our economic picture, and recognize that we haven’t fully recovered from the economic downturn that started back in 2009.
That is coupled with the mixed signals that continue about how the entrepreneurial spirit might continue to better define itself in our region.
I found my thoughts brought me back to another favourite topic of mine—the meaning of entrepreneurial teams and their impact on our world.
Consider how genuine team formation beyond sports and recreation can impact your life, our business community and the economy of our region and province.
I bring back to you the old Chinese saying: “It is difficult to clap with one hand.” It appropriately opens our reflection on entrepreneurial teams, which over the past 15 years has received increased attention as a body of research suggesting that fast growth firms are more likely to have been founded by entrepreneurial teams.
Much of my own research over the years has supported the idea that the entrepreneurial venture creation process is quite often precipitated by a team of entrepreneur-minded people rather than the individual zealot.
An entrepreneurial team may be defined as two or more individuals who jointly envisage an business opportunity and combine their creative and financial interests to create a new venture.
After dabbling in this team thought model, I wanted to remind us all of the importance and direct relevance of entrepreneurial leadership in this same context and how important this ingredient is in creating an entrepreneurial mindset.
For an entrepreneurial leader, building a great team is crucial to successful launch and growth of a new venture.
Early stage teams without such substantive leadership never seem to have the complete recipe of skills needed to take the perceived opportunity along its desired path.
So let’s identify what skills do we need, and how do we find, attract and engage the best talent for our new venture.
And most critically, perhaps, as an entrepreneurial leader, how do you motivate, lead and retain the created team toward our version of successful victory?
Let me explain that entrepreneurial leaders are distinguished from other managers by their personal practices.
Such practices, I suggest to you, fall into three categories—setting the entrepreneurial work climate; orchestrating the venture opportunity-seeking and moving the new venture or ventures personally in a forward motion.
Getting strategic in deciding what skills we need to make our dream venture become a reality is a great beginning to team creation.
For example, what will make your new venture standout from the perceived competition?
What capabilities will be crucial to your success?
What skills must you have on your team to achieve your goals, to create value and, of course, to protect that newly created value?
Simply put, you need to design a strategy tor each out to the targeted culture group for your new venture.
One that will make your prospective team members easily able to commit and dedicate themselves in seeing your dream realized.
Let’s also delve a bit into getting tactical, meaning to get your wonder team together and build a specification or a list of responsibilities for each key position in your new venture structure.
For example, making certain the parts add up to the whole. Frankly speaking, assess how well the collective talent you have assembled matches up with what you will need to succeed in the early stages of your venture launch.
Then I would suggest that you strive to get the best people around you.
Depending on the stage of your venture and how much money you can and wish to spend, your approach to finding the right team candidates may vary.
You will need to be pro-active and aggressive while you are evaluating a potential team membership, for remember it’s your “dream machine” that you are creating.
Appeal to a team candidate’s need to win. And appeal not only their technical skills and experience, but their values and cultural beliefs as well.
Two more ingredients make up my recommended team recipe.
Take a personal role in motivating and retaining this wonderous championship team you have created. That’s your job as the entrepreneurial leader in your new exciting venture creation.
The way that you lead your team will be the most important factor.
Share your vision and be open about the challenge. Share your entrepreneurial passion and demonstrate your determination.
Much has been written the world over about passion reigning supreme over the venture process and success curve.
Teach and mentor, share your talents, and most important of all demonstrate humility.
You will want to hear clearly and unmistakably what your new team may be telling you.
The last aspect of creating your team is to get tough. Try your best to objectively evaluate each team member annually and update their list of responsibilities.
Hold your people accountable where warranted. It’s really not that hard to know when you may need to change some element within your core team, but it’s very hard to decide to actually do it.
I have had to make those decisions during some of the periods of my entrepreneurial life and the decisions remained with me for a time after.
Not enjoyable, but necessary, I can assure you.
Please consider these words in closing out today’s column— you can’t please everyone, and if your new venture is changing rapidly, your needs may change just as rapidly.
Always make your need change with grace and support being forever true to yourself.
Forgive yourself, and move on to achieve your entrepreneurial dream.
You will be amazed at the inner joy leading a successfully structured team brings to your life, those around you and to your business venture.