One of the most popular reasons for starting a business is freedom — especially in terms of having enough time and money to maintain a desired lifestyle. However, you may soon realise that the freedom you craved as an employee becomes even more elusive when you start running your own business.

Apart from working to deliver your core products and services, you are deeply involved in the day to day activities of overseeing and growing the business. The exhilaration that you felt at first is replaced with overwhelm and the business becomes rather burdensome.

This is what happens when you run your business as a solopreneur. Regardless of the nature of your business and how excited you are about it, you will get to a point where you find that your own resources alone are not enough to drive the business or take it to the next level. And that’s where team building comes in.

The cashflow quadrant

In his book, Cashflow Quadrant, Robert Kiyosaki identifies four categories of people in the business world – the employees and self-employed on one hand, and the business owners and investors on the other hand. While employees and the self-employed practically work for money, business owners and investors understand how to make money work for them.

When you’re just starting out in business, especially if you don’t have lots of experience, powerful connections and money, you are likely to start from the self-employed category. So you have simply moved from a quadrant on one side to another quadrant on the same side.

Self-employed vs business owner

As a self-employed person, you are not much different from an employee. Your business is tied to your personal productivity and availability. You are the only one doing everything, so you only get to create value and make money to the extent that you are able to work. Your business is intertwined with your life and its growth stops where your capacity stops.

On the other hand, business owners are people who have learnt to build systems and structures that make it possible for their business to operate like a well-oiled machine. Unlike self employed individuals who take pride in how hard they’re working to build their enterprise, business owners recognise that their primary role is not to do the work but to create structures and build systems that get the work done.

So they have effectively removed themselves from the business such that whether they are available or not, their business runs fine and continues working to deliver the goods. This should be the goal of everyone that’s starting a business.

Even if you don’t intend to build a 500-employee business, you can leverage on the principles that undergird the success of big business owners and apply them to your own small business so that you can move from just being self-employed to becoming a real business owner.

This transition will greatly simplify your life while also increasing the quality and quantity of your business output. One of the most important first steps in this regard is building a team. There is only so much that one person can do alone.

Even if you don't intend to build a 500-employee business, you can leverage on the principles that undergird the success of big business owners. Click To Tweet

The bad news and the good news

Many entrepreneurs will readily attest to the exponential growth that team building can create for their business. Yet, they are reluctant to act on that conviction as a result of some mental blocks or a fixed mindset that is resistant to growth. I have identified some of these mental blocks as follows.

1. Perfectionism

One of the major factors that hold most business owners back is the belief that no one else can execute a task as perfectly as they would. I have gone through this phase myself. Thankfully, it didn’t take me long to realise that this assumption simply shows that there’s a gap in my thinking. If you’re currently at this stage you need to admit this gap and make deliberate effort to bridge it.

To start with, if you’re really so good that nobody else can attain your standards of excellence, how come you are not the undisputed leader in your line of business? And if you are, don’t you think you should groom others to walk in your shoes?

If you can get someone to carry out a task with 80 percent perfection, you should delegate that task and give the person room to grow. Click To Tweet

Whichever way you look at it, allowing perfectionism to hold you back indicates the need for a paradigm shift. The problem is not with the people that will make up the team you’re looking to build, the problem is with you and you need to deal with it.

If you can get someone to carry out a task with 80 percent perfection, you should delegate that task and give the person room to grow. You should also put systems in place to ensure adherence to standards, reduce or eliminate the margin of error and promote continuous improvement.

2. Fear of greatness

Some people are inherently afraid of growing big. They dread the responsibilities and challenges that come with greatness. For example, some people would rather stay small because they dread the process of building the kind of structure that is characteristic of big businesses.

They don’t want to deal with issues like recruitment, managing a payroll, business accounting, legal and tax issues, corporate governance, succession planning and other such matters. As a result of this, they don’t want to invest in building a team. As far as they understand, that will only complicate their business. So they only grow to the maximum permissible limit within their comfort zone.

3. Distrust

Few things can be achieved without trust. If you’re going to grow a successful business you must have faith and confidence in people, until they prove otherwise. Instead of being driven by suspicions and baseless assumptions, develop a process that builds trust on your part and on the part of the people working with you.

That is not to say that you will not have to deal with people that are not trustworthy, who will attempt to compromise your work. The point is that you must have dealt with that in advance. Implement open and transparent business processes with checks and balances that make it difficult, if not impossible, to compromise the system.

Few things can be achieved without trust. If you're going to grow a successful business you must have faith and confidence in people, until they prove otherwise. Click To Tweet

For example, most supermarkets now have all activities monitored by CCTV. They have computerised systems for stock management, sales and other business processes. And before you go out of the supermarket, security personnel verify your purchases against your receipt. All of this creates an environment that has eliminated or greatly reduced the kind of issues that breed distrust.

I have used the example of a business that sells products but you can implement similar systems in your service business. Like Sam Carpenter advises in his book, Work the System, you should seek to create an environment that is fireproof instead of one that kills fires.

4. Character flaws

Your business will reflect your character. If you’re dishonest and selfish it will show up in your business and place a limit on how far you can grow. No one likes to work with a dishonest person. Even a dishonest person would not like to work with another dishonest person.

Among other things, dishonesty will breed financial impropriety. So you cannot build a team that will drive business growth if your character engine is faulty in this regard. The best you can achieve is to grow in fits and starts.

Another character flaw that must be dealt with is selfishness. When you’re only interested in enriching yourself at the expense of others, you will not have what it takes to make the transition from self-employed to business owner.

Your business will reflect your character. If you're dishonest and selfish it will show up in your business and place a limit on how far you can grow. Click To Tweet

On one hand, you will be reluctant to engage the right kind of people, implement growth systems, and reinvest in the business because you want to keep 100 percent of the profit. On the other hand, people will be reluctant to work with you once they discover that you don’t have their best interests at heart. You will have a high rate of staff turnover that will cause your business to keep oscillating instead of advancing.

Dishonesty and selfishness are not the only character flaws that will prevent you from building a great team. You need to deal with anything that rightfully turns people off or make them feel used instead of valued. Be patient with people, practise self discipline and develop habits that attract great people instead of attitudes that repel them.

Start now

The best time to start thinking of team building is before starting your business. But most small scale entrepreneurs defer this until much later. One major reason for this is the notion that one needs to have lots of money before one can build a great team to drive business growth. But that’s not necessarily true.

While money is indeed important, you must recognise that it is possible to have money and still lack the ability to build a great team. The more important factors are resourcefulness, ability to communicate/sell your business vision and a visible commitment to ensuring equitable reward for all.

We’ll explore this further in a subsequent post where we’ll discuss approaches to team building.