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A Business Owner’s 2nd Most Valuable Commodity

April 01, 20245 min read

The greatest commodity any business owner has is his time.  No matter what you do or how much you make financially, you only have so much time.  Contrary to what most business owners think, your 2nd most valuable commodity is not your money, but your people.  

If you hire the right people, you solve 90% of your problems.  If you hire the wrong people, you create 90% of your problems.  Getting the right people on your team will produce more money.  

Building a “dream team” is something that every business owner should make a priority in his or her life.  You want the right people on the bus and in the right seat.  

Below are 4 steps that will help you build a dream team.

Decorative LineHire Well

Hiring well seems like it is simple, but it’s not.  Hiring well requires a number of steps.  It is easy to overlook or ignore a critical step.

Hiring well begins with truly understanding the people you need on your team.  Most small to midsize business owners are “player coaches.”  They play a major one on the team AND coach the team simultaneously.  

Think of the game of baseball.  The owner plays the starting shortstop position AND coaches the team in real time action every day.  This is possible but not easy.   

I encourage owners to make sure they position themselves well on the team.  If you are good at fulfilling a role and enjoy doing that role, it’s not difficult for you.  You will excel at doing it.  Sadly, many owners work in areas of weakness, which exhausts them.  It is so much wiser to work in areas of strength.

Once the owner positions himself properly in the company, he needs to hire those who have strengths in areas in which he is weak.  For example, if the owner is good at sales, he likely needs operational help.  If he is good at operations, he probably needs sales help, etc.  

I frequently tell owners that “believe it or not, there are actually people who love doing what you hate doing, and they are really good at those roles.  You need to find those people!”

Unfortunately, most people hire “from the gut.”  They find someone they like and shape the job to fit the person, rather than finding the person to fit the job.  

Hiring well is an involved process. I will provide more details in a future blog.

Onboard Well

Most companies do not onboard new employees well.  New employees receive a cubicle, a computer, and maybe an employee manual.  Owners expect the new employee to figure out what he must do to be successful in his job.  

Leaving things undefined creates a great deal of frustration for the new employee.  It takes time to figure what he really needs to do to be successful.  It can take 6-18 months.  

Providing clear directions for new hires up front minimizes their frustration and enables the new employee to become successful almost immediately.  Because most owners don’t onboard well, the company and the new employee suffers.  

Think back in your own life when you took on a new job.  How much guidance did you receive up front?  Many people have shared with me how frustrating it was when they started a new job, only to wander around trying to figure out what they really needed to do to be successful in that role.  Don’t do that to your new hires!

Develop Well

Most business owners expect their employees to develop themselves.  While that may occasionally occur, it is rare.  

Most employees need a leader's guidance to grow.  They lack confidence, often do not recognize their innate abilities, and have given little thought about their future aspirations.  

As an owner, you want to create a “win-win” situation.  You want your company to win, and you want your employees to win!  

Most employees feel like everything is about the company.  They lose so that the company can win.  That’s not very motivating.  If the employee wins, the company wins also.  

As an owner, you want to lean in and get to know your employees (particularly your key employees).  You want to discover their aptitude and aspirations.  Sometimes you hire them for one role, only to discover that they fit better in a different role.  

Helping them discern their abilities and challenging them to become extremely productive enables them to personally grow.  As they grow, they contribute at a higher level.  Both the company and employee wins!

Retain Well

Once you hire and develop a highly productive employee, you want to keep that person.  Don’t give them a reason to leave.  

Many owners think the reason people leave their company is because of money.  While that may be true for a few people, it is not usually the lack of money that causes them to leave. 

They leave because they do not feel valued or appreciated, they do not feel there are growth opportunities for them, or because of poor management. 

As an owner, you want to create a “sticky environment.”  Make it hard for them to leave.  The day may come that they leave, but don’t contribute to it. 

If you do this right, people who leave you will struggle to do so, and often help you find their replacement. 

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Other than time, your most important commodity in business is your personnel.  As an owner, make sure you treat your people well.  Value them.  Invest in them.  Doing so will grow your company AND create a culture where people are happy and productive.  If this occurs, your company will grow and prosper financially!

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Dave Pennington PhD

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