Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Complementary Assets

A couple of posts ago, I wrote about the importance of evaluating what you bring to the table in a small business. The small business environment also accentuates the need to insure that there is a good fit across the team. You will hear a lot of entrepreneurs discuss their focus on hiring for their weakness as a key to the success of their business. There is a reason for that.

Keep your eyes open for the abilities and skills that you and your partners (using a broad definition) bring to the party. Don't be distracted by "liking" people. "Liking" someone is a nice-to-have, but unnecessary factor that is not highly correlated with success. How does the team perform together? What is the team's potential? Are there key skills missing and how can you correct that?

It is also important to consider at what point the fit is not complementary but conflicting. There is no hiding in a small business--no far-off departments where you can ship unsavory co-workers. You must address conflicts quickly and absolutely. This can be difficult for many people, but in the end I find the outcomes to be much better than the festering elephants in the room (Hey, Dave Barry! That would be a good name for a band!) in Corporate America.

Be critical and honest in your assessment of abilities and fit. Hiring mistakes are difficult and time-consuming to resolve. Unaddressed conflicts can tear at the fabric of a small business. If you can police yourself (and/or find a confidant to police you), the attention to these critical factors should enable your business to flourish. At a minimum, you will be eliminating factors that will surely submarine your success.

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