Apprentice winner Mark Wright on how to build the right team

Mark Wright, winner of TV’s The Apprentice, believes you have to manage yourself out of your own business if you want to grow it. In short, learn to trust your team

When launching a new business, every start-up entrepreneur experiences the same challenging journey, fulfilling multiple job roles at one time, until income and cash flow dictate you can employ support staff.

Where some entrepreneurs deem this an exciting step, others find the responsibility of employing staff as daunting. The difference between these two mindsets, however, is fundamental to business growth.

Those who understand that a”‘one-man-band” cannot physically grow at scale are those more likely to achieve success; yet, finding, retaining and knowing how to build the right team is a common challenge experienced by business owners globally.

At my company Climb Online, we boast an award-winning company culture with impressive staff retention rates. However, this hasn’t been developed by the luck of the draw, but rather an effective strategy focused on cultivating a passionate and driven team of “intrapreneurs” united in achieving success.

>See also: 7 hiring strategy dos and don’ts for high-growth SMEs

Share the vision

All entrepreneurs experience the challenge of finding loyal, high-performing staff who are passionate about the future success of their business.

Instead of focusing on the personality traits of those who walk in [and out] of the door, focus on uniting your employees in your wider vision for the business. Be the leader that you’re aspiring to be from the outset and regularly share your intentions for the company with the rest of your team. Simplistic routines, like a Monday morning meeting or round-up of the week, will ensure employees feel important in their roles and are, therefore, more likely to perform at a higher level.

What’s more, regularly sharing the vision and future direction for the business will aid you in defining the employees who have the potential for leadership from an early stage. How? These will be the ones who take note, listen and work above their day-to-day role to grasp an opportunity for progression, in turn, helping to propel the business forward.

Delegate early

I meet with a lot of business owners and entrepreneurs on a consistent basis and one consistent challenge is growth. However, this growth isn’t stunted necessarily stunted by a lack of sales leads, but rather their inability to work “on” their business instead of “in” it.

The business owners able to delegate tasks from an early stage are the ones who are able to “let go” quicker – understanding that they cannot scale the company without working at a higher, strategic level instead of worrying about meaningless administration tasks which can be managed by a team member.

For those reading this and working to the thought process of “If you need a job doing properly, do it yourself”, this way of thinking is damaging and will only show your employees that you don’t really trust them, while continuing to stunt growth. The sooner you let go, the sooner the performance and culture of your team will improve.

>See also: Boost performance through employee gamification

Make yourself redundant

In the early stages of any business, you will work an obscene number of hours to simply stay afloat. However, as the company grows, you need to work on making yourself redundant by employing and trusting in staff members that are better than you in their respective roles.

Business owners who are consistently stuck in the “doing” of the business, will remain stuck, where the entrepreneurs who constantly evaluate how all areas of the business can be improved by sourcing and trusting in the right talent, are those who will drive consistent and sustained growth.

To make an immediate change, write down your “to do” list for the week and then highlight the tasks that have nothing to do with your role as managing director. Aside from the likelihood that you’ll be surprised at the number of tasks below your pay-grade, it will show you how much you should delegate on a weekly basis to provide you with the time to work on the strategic direction of the business.

Find your number two

 If I was hit by the number 6 bus tomorrow, all of my businesses would still operate effectively. Why? Because I have taken the time to find, employ and train an effective “number two” who understands the day-to-day running of the company, but more importantly, the wider vision for it.

The business owners too concerned about “letting go” of their responsibilities will never operate at a larger scale because it is simply impossible to grow, manage and operate all areas of the business single-handedly for the long-term.

An effective “number two” requires complete transparency. They need to understand the current state of the business, the areas that are weak and those that are performing well. If you are not willing to share this information, there is little point in you investing in a “number two”. But those who do quickly reap the rewards in time and profit.

Reward passion

At Climb Online, I have recently promoted our head of sales and head of operations to commercial director and operations director respectively. These two individuals were my founding employees of the business and have, therefore, been fundamental to the growth and continued success of the agency.

The difference between these two staff members and the rest of our team is that they have continued to show passion and dedication to the Climb Online brand since inception. Whether that’s working overtime to fulfil client requirements or taking time out for off-site meetings to work on the strategy of the business, I know I can rely on them.

Remember, an effective business leader isn’t a dictator, but one that inspires and motivates their team, supporting them as they grow and develop in their profession. Identify your team members that are hungry for growth and provide them with the opportunity to achieve it. Aside from cementing their passion for the business, they will respect your guidance both in the short and long-term.

How to build the right team

Ultimately, without sourcing, training and inspiring senior team members, your business simply won’t grow. It is physically impossible to complete all jobs within your business and no matter how hard you fight not letting go, the time will come when you have to as you will either burn out or finally realise how this constrained mindset is effecting the growth of your business.

If you find good staff, tell them. Share your vision and constantly find ways in which you can make yourself redundant from day to day work. Only in doing this can you strategically look at all areas of the business and drive long-term sustained growth.

Mark Wright is founder and managing director of Climb Online

Further reading on managing staff

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Mark Wright

Kristofer Wolf

Mark Wright is a winner of BBC’s The Apprentice and director of digital marketing agency Climb Online.

Related Topics

Team building
The Apprentice