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Putting the Right People in the Right Seats Builds Small Business Success

Susan Wilson Solovic is an award-winning entrepreneur and journalist, author of three best-selling books, multi-media personality and contributor to ABC News and other outlets, public speaker and attorney. 
AT&T has sponsored the following blog post.

Hillary Clinton wrote it takes a village to raise a child.  It takes a team to build a successful, sustainable company.  You absolutely can’t do it alone.  Yet finding the right people to help you grow your business is one of the areas in which  most entrepreneurs struggle.

Hiring someone who can “do the job” isn’t enough.  You need to identify people who embrace your business vision and values.  And honestly, that’s often as difficult as finding a needle in the haystack.

When you reach the point in your business that you’re ready to start adding team members, make sure you can clearly articulate your vision in such a way that potential employees can understand and believe the vision as much as you do.  The majority of employees in organizations of all sizes have no sense of the company’s vision.  They end up frustrated.  As the owner, you get aggravated, and your business growth is stifled.

Think of Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech.  After he boldly stated his vision, he transitioned his remarks to make his dream our dream too.  That’s what you must do as a business owner when you start to build your team.

In addition to understanding the vision of your business, your employees should share your values.  Skills can be taught, but an employee who doesn’t share your values can impede your ability to succeed.  I’ve personally made this mistake.  When choosing between two candidates for a position, I chose the one with the higher skill level even though I sensed he might not fit our company culture.  One month later we escorted him out of the building.

Fortunately, the other candidate was still available.  I hired him, and he quickly learned the skills he needed to do the job.  And the best part — he was a positive influence on the team and a tremendous asset to the company.

Finally, once you find right people to help you grow, make sure you empower them to make things happen.  Leaders of growth companies aren’t dictators.  They delegate responsibilities and accountability so they can focus their energies on what they do best to grow their business.  It’s tough to let go when it’s your baby, but if you don’t, you won’t be able to grow to the next level.

One of my former bosses used to say to me, “Susan, I’m giving you the opportunity to fail.”  Give your team the latitude to make decisions and move quickly to seize opportunities.  At Facebook employees are told, “Done is better than perfect.”

Don’t settle for someone to do the work.  Surround yourself with the right team players so you can soar to success.

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Steve Caniano is VP, Hosting, Application & Cloud Services at AT&T Business Solutions. As leader of AT&T's global Hosting, Application and Cloud infrastructure business, he is instrumental in forging key partner alliances and scaling AT&T's cloud services globally. He regularly collaborates with customers and represents AT&T at key industry events like Cloud Expo.