October 31, 2014

How to Grow A Smart SMB Team

Small business owners have a lot on their plates – it’s become cliché because it’s true! Between marketing, running, and growing their business, there are always more tasks than hours in the day. However, among the most important and difficult of tasks is trying to build your team. It can be hard to find people who you can trust to come in and help you get the job done. It’s even harder to find people who share your values and your commitment to your customers. But it’s doable. More than that, if you want to grow a successful business, it’s a must. You can’t work in and on your business at the same time.

Whether you’re in the process right now of trying to build your team or you simply aspire to one day being bigger than yourself, below are some tips to help you grow a smarter SMB team.

1. Assess Your Skills

Knowing the skills you’ll need to hire for means first understanding the skills that you (and possibly your existing team) already bring to the table. For example, maybe you’re great at customer service but you’re terrible at marketing. Or maybe you’re awesome at using social media tools to connect with people, but you can’t keep your books straight for the life of your business. Start creating lists of skills – skills you have, skills you can acquire, and skills you’d need to hire for. Once you know what skillsets you’re looking for, prioritize them to help you identify what is most important to your business.

2. Seek Out Referrals

Once you know what roles you’re looking to hire for, put it out to the universe. Talk to the people in your community and your local network about the types of people you’re looking for. Post the required skills on LinkedIn or Twitter and see if anyone in your network can help. Talk about in in the online groups that you’re part of. I’m always surprised by how easy it is to find the perfect person as soon as you let people know you’re looking for them. The world is smaller than you think.

3. Go Online Talent Shopping

If your local referrer network wasn’t able to come up with a match, it’s time to go online talent shopping yourself. One of my favorite tools for this is LinkedIn’s Advanced Search.

With LinkedIn’s Advanced Search you can hunt for potential employees by experience, industry, salary, job title, current company, previous company, etc. Better yet, you can then narrow it down to employees living within 50 miles of your storefront, helping you focus on the people who could actually come and work for you. Once you have a list of people you’d like to get an introduction to, see who in your network is already connected to these people or what groups/ associations they’re a part of. This is a really great way to get your foot in the door with an applicant who could bring a lot of value to your business.

4. Find Shared Values

But finding a great new team member for your SMB isn’t just about the skills they may have on paper. It’s about finding someone who thinks like you do and who values the same things that you’re trying to instill in your business. Getting that “culture fit” right is invaluable in helping to avoid potential pitfalls later on. If a person doesn’t match what the rest of the company believes, then they’re not a good fit for your business. No matter how impressive their resume may be. Use your gut and look for people who show a history of action, being a team player, and who appears receptive to challenges.

5. Trust them

Once you find that person who compliments your team’s skillset, get out of their way and trust them. Sure, put procedures and policies in place to help make them accountable, but avoid your instinct to hover over them to make sure they’re doing things “your way”. Delegating does not mean hiring Mini-Yous. It means creating a more diverse team. Get comfortable with that.

Even the most-skilled CEOs will eventually need to invest in growing his or her team. You can’t do everything. By carefully and deliberately putting together a team of complimentary skillsets, you help set yourself (and your business) up for success.

5 Comments ▼

Lisa Barone


Lisa Barone Lisa Barone is Vice President of Strategy at Overit, an Albany Web design and development firm where she serves on the senior staff overseeing the company’s marketing consulting, social media, and content divisions.

5 Reactions

  1. I enjoyed reading this article from the perspective of the “trusted worker.” I have been a contract employee for almost 2 years. We are hiring outside help to continue to grow his business. I fully agree with finding someone who fits in with the culture of the company, as well as finding someone with a similar level of commitment. A digression from that can really rock the boat for the employees already on board.

  2. Whenever we hire someone, its usually based on something they have to offer that we don’t have. A niche that can not only diversify our team but help the rest of us grow, in a sense. There is always a skillset and experience level that can be filled by 100 different people but look for the spark in people that will ignite a team to prosper. Those are rare and hard to find now-a-days.

  3. You might also check out Brad Smart’s book and website about Topgrading (just Google the term). He talks about to consistently hire A players and avoid the mis-hires that can be deadly to a small business.

  4. Thank you for point #5. The frustration of feeling like you’re being micro-managed and not having the freedom to do what you were hired to do can be infuriating (and can lead your best people to just up and leave).

  5. Stephen T Howell

    I think successful strategy has key components.
    1) A clear plan of what needs to be specifically accomplished / overcome that is realistic and achievable -not a lofty ambition or some ultimate goal
    2) Solid and frequent communications and evacuation of results against milestones not a walk in the park
    3) If it ain’t working find out quick and adjust.

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