Business Advice

How to build a team that gets along and gets things done: Seven entrepreneurs weigh in

Emma Koehn /

You’ve got growth under your belt and the next chapter in your company’s story is finding more staff to help speed things up. With a full contact book of ex-classmates, best mates, loose connections and the whole sea of job applicants, who should you pick to join your business?

We’ve heard from hundreds of entrepreneurs over the years on how to not only choose staff, but nurture them so they are loyal and productive. Here are seven perspectives.

Go for people who believe in the problem you solve

Cyan Ta’eed, Envato, 2016

Envato founders Cyan and Collis Ta'eed

“Our goal is quite simple, it’s to help as many people in the world earn as much money doing the things that they love. People who really get that and are really excited about that are the people we want to hire.

“It’s more about purpose than about profit, then you’ve got people that are really excited to go the extra mile.”

Ask for advice from those that spread joy

Bill Gates, Microsoft, 2016

“It’s about being the kind of friend you wish you had yourself. Everyone should be lucky enough to have a friend who is as thoughtful and kind as Warren Buffet.

“He goes out of his way to make people feel good about themselves and share his joy about life.”

Put respect front and centre

Louise Ward, SelfWealth, 2016

“We never hold back when it comes to sharing our opinions with each other.

“We respect each other’s view point. SelfWealth wouldn’t have survived if we were trying to keep each other happy. Running a business is like making a relationship last – a marriage can only work if you respect each other.

“Often we have a lot of different opinions on how SelfWealth should be run. I get tempered, [co-founder] Andrew gets excited and then we find the right path.”

Keep happy people, let disengaged staff fly free

Naomi Simson, RedBalloon, 2016

Those people who have highly engaged teams, people who love what they’re doing everyday, they will also have highly loyal customers. Happy people make happy profits.

“26% of disengaged employees are planning to spend their whole career with you. We need to set them free, let them go and work for the competition.”

Know your culture and protect the energy

Sam Prince, Zambrero, 2017

Zambrero founder Dr Sam Prince.

When you’re building a team, it’s about keeping the culture positive. And it feels like Manhattan sometimes, Zambrero — like, 2 million people in there who want to change the world. [Growth] will be about protecting that.”

Forget the culture of strict hierarchies

Jane Lu, ShowPo, 2014

In a nutshell you have to hire by cultural fit. At ShowPo, it’s fun, everyone gets along and it is quite casual. It is a very flat structure, there is no hierarchy. I don’t think people who pack our stock even realise that I am in charge. They think I am one of the office staff.

“You have to reward [staff members] differently. Monetary awards are technically the easiest, but it’s just a case of knowing that some people want autonomy, others want career progression, others want to be doing what they love. It’s about understanding what motivates people.”

Make sure your team doesn’t lose energy

Tony Robbins, 2016

“Engage at a higher level with good energy…when you’re energy poor even smart people don’t optimise. Without energy we’re not going to maximise.”

“Energy comes from emotion – information without emotions is barely retained.”

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Emma Koehn

Emma Koehn is SmartCompany's senior journalist.

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