1. Find your vision. It doesn’t mean you have to know what the end of the vision looks like. You just have to get the vision, then have the ability to cast the vision with such fervor that others around you want to be a cog in your wheel. Once you do that, the wheel begins to turn, progress is made, and you’re going somewhere. I can remember telling our team, “Look, we’re going to have 50,000 viewers on the blog per month.” They thought it sounded impossible, but here we are today, and it happened. So you have to start with that vision.
2. Hire your opposite. No matter where you are in the business cycle, starting out, or a veteran of self-employment, you are continually trying to build a paradigm of personalities to balance out your entire organization. Use a behavioral profile test, such as a DISC profile, to build out a compatible team and help ensure your success.
For example, we have over a dozen employees in our organization, and I’ve hired every personality type there is. I’m a dominant personality (D), with leanings toward an influencer (I). My operations manager is somewhere between compliant © and supporter (S) and we complement each other. In the areas where I am weak, she has strengths and vice versa. Now, that’s not to say two Ds couldn’t work together. Because they could, but imagine the head butting that is likely going to take place. Therefore, knowing these personality and behavioral traits in advance can help you build your best team yet.
3. Partial out, meaning focus on your strengths and eliminate your weakness as much as possible. This idea goes back to hiring your opposite. My longtime friend and business partner, Jim DeTar, is the exact opposite of me. I’m incredibly detailed. He’s not. I’m introverted; he’s extroverted. I can’t tell you that many times we wanted to kill each other in the first couple of years of business. However, it became evident that we needed each other.
Yes, I was a value driver. I was the founder, I was the CEO, but I needed an individual who could keep me in check. Jim would often say, “Justin gets the clients, I keep the clients.” There ended up being a lot of truth in that statement. But as we grew and as we started hiring personnel around the company focusing on that paradigm of different personalities, what we found is, Justin gets clients, Jim keeps clients. Still, other individuals help us build out systems that keep the processes, thereby continuing to add value to our company.
4. Invest in yourself by investing in your business. Far too often, business owners take too much cash out of their companies. If you’re the founder and CEO, don’t pay yourself for a while or at least reduce your salary. Go back to your college days and learn how to eat ramen! Listen, leaders eat last, not first.
So many are not successful in businesses because they focus on cash in their pocket and not in their business, and it ends up being to the detriment of the business. The more you invest back into your company early on, the stronger your company will be long term.
There was a period of roughly three years when I didn’t get paid the rate I honestly should have. I mean, I didn’t even make enough to meet my family’s needs at that time, but and all my other team members did. I took care of my team paid them first, and now we are all reaping the benefits of that loyalty and leadership. I took the money I should have made redeployed it back in the business intending to grow the company. We have seen a 200% increase in just one year alone.
I also don’t believe in calling our team members, employees, or staff. Staph is an infection. Employee is a demeaning legal term. We have partners, and we have colleagues, we are on the same team, everybody moving in the same direction. So you as the CEO, you as the founder, your job is not to get out behind people and whip them, but to come alongside them, nature and build them up in a way that allows them to outgrow the position they currently hold.
5. Stay humble. You know to receive national press like Forbes and Investopedia, and other outlets say you are one of the best of the best, it can be really easy to sit back and say I did this. It was all me, but that would be the biggest lie of the century. So many people have sacrificed time and energy to help me achieve what I have. Team members have come alongside me and helped us grow this company. It’s not about you; it’s about the organization.
Many times I see young business owners start to talk about self. It’s I did this or I did that, I, I, I, and typically that’s when I see a business start to stagnate. Don’t fall into that trap. Stay humble.