One of the most positive aspects of being an Entrepreneur is that you learn new things all the time. I guess this a condition that is general for every aspect of our life, but I bring this subject today because it is present in every path of the entrepreneur’s journey. I’ve been an entrepreneur to some extent for almost 15 years, a time during which I have made many mistakes, learned from them and as a result, have become a better person. Each day I learn more things and I strive to learn from every experience I encounter. With all these knowledge, I want to share with my readers my experience so you can learn from my mistakes and avoid painful experiences.
The first lesson or teaching I want to share is how to build your Entrepreneur team or select associates. This can be quite tricky and I can’t say there is a guide to build the perfect team. However I can give you some tips in order to avoid some mistakes, enabling you to build a good team, maybe even a great team.
To elaborate on my idea of building your team, let me start by telling the story of how I assembled my first business team. This was almost 10 years ago and I was a student at my university. I was maybe 19 or 20 years old and I had a good business idea. One of the first things I realized is that this idea was too big and that it was impossible to execute it on my own. I had to build a good team, who were going to become part owners of the idea. So the first task at hand was to figure out who these people had to be, not an easy task.
At this time I had an ongoing fear: if I shared my idea, someone could steal it. Many years later I see this attitude as something normal, even natural. This risk exists, however is a risk that any serious entrepreneur has to face and overcome. At any given time anyone can copy your idea, even if you don’t tell them about it. So instead of worrying about this, I recommend you focus on evolving your business idea through your input and from ideas and recommendations received from those you share the idea with.
So after several months of analyzing how and to who I was going to share my idea, I finally gave it a go. The risk was present, but I was confident the gains outweigh the problems. So I did exactly that and I shared my idea with several fellow students. The idea was well received and of the 8 or 10 people I shared the idea with, no one stole it. Some of the persons I approached said they were not interested and finally I ended with a team of 5 people, including myself.
At this point I made a crucial mistake. I offered my teammates a small stock percentage in order to work with me and my business project. My associates had altogether less than 20% of the stakes while I remained with more than 80%. The result was pure math: my teammates work as if they had 20% of the shares, while I did the other 80% of the work. Don’t get me wrong, some of their work was very valuable and gave me great ideas, however this uneven participation reduced their interest.
So my first mistake was not dividing the company in equal parts. Today I realize that if I had distribute the shares in 5 equal parts the commitment would had been greater and I would had been happier with only 20% of the company. That share was big and enough for everything I needed and wanted.
The second point, which is closely related to the first one, is that every member of the team has to turn the wheel in the same direction. As a team, we were never working for the same vision and objectives. I had great ideas and dreams and only one or two persons (at times) shared these visions. I was the natural leader of the project, because of my positions as the creator of the idea and owner of the larger amount stock. So many times it was my way or the highway, with one additional problem: there were no substitutes.
So to make a long story short, my team was not properly motivated and they had no real reasons to back me up when I needed it. I’m not judging them, actually I understand them and if I was on their situation I would probably had acted the same way. Plain and simple, my youth made me greedy and by not seeing the big picture, people were not willing to turn the wheel with me.
Here are just two of the many mistakes I’ve made and learned from. I like to share this information, so you as a potential (or accomplished) entrepreneur can learn from this. I’ll share more lessons in the future. For the time being I invite you to analyze this situation and learn from my mistakes. Also if you want to share experiences, please feel free to do so at the end of this article.