How to Build a Team as an Entrepreneur: Character Traits to Look for When You Hire

Written by Tom Marino

November 21, 2021

build a team

Entrepreneurs and small business owners, are you ready to build a team and scale your business?

Recently, I shared my burnout story as a beginning entrepreneur. A friend recommended the book Who Not How by Dan Sullivan, and it taught me the importance of finding the right people to support you on your journey.

I learned that I can’t do it all. And when I built my team, I freed up my time for the tasks and pursuits that mattered most to me. But what does that look like? How do we find the right people so that we feel more confident about “letting go” and delegating responsibilities?

Hiring can be a challenging, time-consuming process. I’ve heard other entrepreneurs say, “I can’t find good people.” The good news is, there are plenty of qualified people looking for work.

Here are my top tips for building a successful team:


Clearly identify your needs and expectations

When you’re hiring, the most important thing to do is to clarify your needs and expectations.

Ask yourself, what are the tasks or responsibilities that drain your time and energy? Look for the holes in your business model. What’s missing? This is where you start. Be honest about your own weaknesses – and then delegate them. The goal is to build a team of people who play to their strengths.

I knew that my time was best spent coaching my clients. Coaching is what I’m passionate about, and it’s why I started this business. But I couldn’t ignore the administrative tasks or the other areas of my business that would help me grow. So I hired a personal assistant, a content manager, and a consultant to strengthen my website SEO.

After you’ve identified your needs, you must communicate your expectations for those roles. This is something you do before and after you hire. The clearer you are about the role, the easier it is to find the best fit.

Your team can’t meet your expectations if they don’t know what they are. Have you clearly communicated your goals? How do you plan to measure your team’s performance? When you communicate your expectations, your team feels empowered because they know how to succeed.


Character traits to look for when you build a team

How do you know that a candidate is the best fit for you and your business? Sometimes the people who look great on paper aren’t the best fit for your culture.

I prioritize “culture” fit. I want to be sure that the people I hire are people I enjoy working with each day. When I’m hiring, I evaluate each candidate’s value alignment. What does this person value? And do those values align with those of my business? When your values are aligned, you’re rowing in the same direction.

It’s important to first know your own values. For example, if you value “teamwork,” you may not want to hire the person who clearly values independence and autonomy in a work environment.

Secondly, I assess a candidate’s communication skills. Communication has always been important in the workplace, but it has taken new meaning in a remote work world. Does this person communicate clearly and efficiently? Are they honest? Are they timely?

I take note when people are quick to follow up; for example, they send a message following an interview to thank you for your time or to recap the conversation. This indicates reliability, consistency, and timeliness.

The third characteristic I look for in a new hire is “teachability.” Is this person willing to learn? As entrepreneurs, our success depends on our growth, improvement, and adaptability. You need a team of people who are curious, creative, and excited to be challenged.

People who are “teachable” welcome feedback and constructive criticism because they want to be better. People who are “teachable” accept accountability.

Lastly, I want to know if a candidate is passionate about my industry and interested in my business. Is this person genuinely interested in what you do? We know that the people who are passionate about what they do are more invested in their work.


Why I don’t prioritize “skill” or “experience” 

“You don’t hire for skill, you hire for attitude. You can always teach skills.” ~ Simon Sinek

A positive attitude and a willingness to learn trumps skill or experience any day. I would rather hire someone who is a “culture” fit than the person who looks perfect on paper.

While qualifications are certainly important, I make the final call based on the characteristics I’ve outlined above: values, communication skills, teachability, and passion. This process begins with your values. What is most important to you and to your team? When you’re clear about what you need and expect, it’s easier to find the right fit.


How to build a team

Building a team is an important step when it comes to scaling your business. It’s not easy, but it doesn’t have to be difficult.

If you’ve previously struggled to find the right people, it may have been for one of the following reasons:

  • You weren’t clear about your expectations
  • Your values weren’t in alignment
  • You prioritized qualifications over attitude and culture fit

As you search for your “who’s,” keep these tips in mind to evaluate candidates and find the right fit. Are you experiencing burnout? Are you ready to build a team? As a Certified Life Coach, I can help you overcome obstacles and reclaim your time. Book my calendar for a complimentary session and let’s chat about the positive changes you want to make.


Photo by Jason Goodman | Unsplash