How Do You Build a Great Team? 18 Business Professionals Chime In


Like most business owners, you’re committed to building and shaping a top-notch team that can help you take your business to the next level. But what kind of steps you can take in order to build a great team to help you run your business?

We recently reached out to 18 business leaders and asked them to provide us with their top tips for hiring and nurturing great team members. Here’s what they had to say:

Michael Krasman, CEO and Co-Founder at UrbanBound

“We love hiring individuals with minimal experience because they tend to be the most driven and hungry to learn, grow and succeed. They also make for a younger and fresher company culture. I believe that, not only is culture the cornerstone of building a successful company, it also gives us a competitive advantage because it creates an environment where innovation is nurtured. To successfully build the culture you want, you have to establish your core values as an individual and as a business, and make sure you hire people that share those same values. It is when these values are not only understood, but implemented, that you get the innovation you are looking for. Far too often, companies create core values and then never re-visit them again – this is a mistake. Your employees need to live and breathe your core values. They need to not only know what these values are, but understand the reasons behind why you place such a strong emphasis on them. At UrbanBound, we make sure that each one of our employees can not only recite our core values, but also understands that using them as a guide as they progress and grow within our company, is the real key to success. In order to be innovative, employees need to understand where the company is going and what it was built on. A strong set of core values and the integration of them into the company’s day-to-day is how we have gotten to where we are today.”

Becky Robinson, CEO and Founder at Weaving Influence

“I have built my virtual team by hiring for character, attitude, and culture fit more than by looking primarily at someone’s resume and skills. I have used Twitter to make connections with potential team members and have hired based on recommendations from other team members. Though my team works virtually and flexibly, many of our team members have connections that existed before our company, which makes the group more cohesive. Although building community in virtual team is more difficult than in a traditional workplace, we leverage technology tools to communicate regularly and frequently, and not always about work. Our secret Facebook group is a virtual water cooler where team members share best practices, vent, ask questions, and support each other through life and work stress.”

Tiffany Gillespie, Owner and Lead Event Coordinator at To The T Event Planning

“When hiring and building a successful team, the number one goal should be to staff to your weaknesses. You want to surround yourself with individuals who are strong in the areas where you may lack some skill. For example, every company needs someone to manage the staff, the accounting, the contracts, marketing, etc. in order to be successful. Also, one person cannot do it all. If you are only strong in handling accounting and contracts, then you need to hire individuals who are proficient at marketing and employee relations. I have been so successful because I have surrounded myself with a team of individuals are in the areas where I may lack some skill. This allows me to focus on effectively running my company and managing client relations.”

Anthony Butler, CEO at Precision IT

“What will really take your company to the next level is to build your team before you need it. It’s not enough to be a team of one in whatever job you do. There’s always going to be something you don’t know so hire people who are not like you. The more you surround yourself with people unlike you, the more you will learn and grow. It’s more than just the people you directly work with too. It’s other department heads, partners, and vendors. Think of it on a bigger level — the entire company. Building your team before your need it will make you better prepared and a more effective leader.”

Ajay Pattani, Founder & CEO at Perfect Search Media

“Finding great people is similar to finding a dream house or a dream job. Usually they aren’t always available exactly when you want to hire them. At Perfect Search we are constantly vetting top talent and we are lucky enough to have some flexibility in when we are able to bring team members aboard. This makes building a great team easier. Too often, companies wait until they need someone and then frantically hire which leads to mistakes in hiring and can affect company culture, motivation, and other team members. We have made this mistake in the past.”

Liora Farkovitz, Founder at LioraFarkovitz.com

“My own top leadership tip is to treat your personnel as your most important asset, because, they are! It is expensive to recruit, train and acclimate an employee to get up to speed, so to get the most for your investment you have to see each member of your staff as a whole person. What are their natural strengths, what are their interests and what are their passions? If you take the time to hire the right person for a job, instead of using a cookie cutter to fill a job, you’ll be much better off. Then, as you expand your operation, move them into the roles that feel less like work and more like fun- you will have people who amaze themselves, and you, with their accomplishments.”

John Jonas, Owner at Onlinejobs.ph and Replacemyself.com

“My biggest leadership tip, especially when handling an outsourced team, is to trust your team. It’s harder than it sounds because it’s hard to trust people you can’t interact with in real life. But trusting your online team actually inspires them to work. If you don’t trust the team you hired, you’ll end micromanaging and nitpicking everything, which lowers morale and just stresses you out. By trusting your team, you make them responsible for their own actions and for the success of the entire team. This motivates them to do their best because they know that team success is dependent on them working with you and working together, and not just on how you lead your team.”

Aaron Goodin, CEO at Snap Skout

“As most entrepreneurs know, starting a company is more than just having a great idea. It’s about tapping the right people at the right time, and slowly building out a team that can truly help to bring that idea to life. Each industry requires different players, and a good leader understands exactly which players should be brought on at each stage of development. An even better leader knows that it’s not just the people you have in your walls, but the people that you bring in from the outside – those experts in your field, or th​e start-up​ veterans who have been around for years. Tapping into these resources early on, and looking to them for ongoing support could be the turning point of building a successful business.”

Rob Bellenfant, Founder & CEO at TechnologyAdvice

“My biggest tip for building a great team is making sure you clearly define everything: your mission, your culture, your values, job roles, and the attributes you value in your employees. Once you define these things for your company, you can establish a hiring process that helps you identify talented candidates who are a fit. As an entrepreneur, I’m always moving fast and experimenting with new ideas. However, I learned quickly that you HAVE to be slow and deliberate when it comes to hiring a great team. We had no consistency in who or how we hired for different positions when we first started expanding our team, which led to countless mistakes that hindered our growth. We slowed down, defined who we are as a team, then committed to a structured process that helps identify talented people who fit our culture.”

Boris Kontsevoi,  Founder and President of Intetics Co

“The most important thing is to know your goals and objectives and then select people that you know will be able to help fulfill those objectives. For example let’s say you need to build a software development team. Part of your objective might be specific technical skills, but another component might be communication and how they fit with overall team dynamics. Because of the communication component you will select a candidate that has both, not necessarily someone only technically able to complete the project. The objectives will dictate how you select and eventually hire candidates. It all stems from what you are trying to achieve — if it’s a highly technical project, rely on the skills, if it’s a long-term project requiring intimate collaboration, someone with more team-oriented development experience might be better, provided they’re capable of learning the technical skills along the way.”

Ben Brashen, CEO at CardTapp

“No matter what accomplishments you make, somebody helped you.” – Althea Gibson

“The above quote really sums my team building style in the best possible way. As an individual, I have always been driven by new ideas and it has always been my endeavor to encourage my team members to follow their dreams too. Every day my team members come with a lot of energy and I strive to channelize this energy positively to create an environment that ensures that my team loves coming to work every day. I am a huge Sea Hawks fan and the team inspires the way I work with my team. Like Russell Wilson, I strive to lead by example as well. Being approachable and ready to walk the mile are 2 biggest pillars of any team building exercise . All my efforts are geared to ensure that my team believes the following: 1. They work for a company they respect 2. They have a trustworthy and engaging boss that advocates for them and helps them with career growth 3. The job offers them variety in their position to make use of their talents 4. They are valued and recognized”

Mark Lupton, Director of Sales and Marketing at The Houstonian Hotel

“When I hire new person for our team, I look at what we’re trying to accomplish, then I start thinking about the workplace culture we’ve built. If it’s a culture of respect, integrity and trustworthiness, we will go out of our way to make sure we hire someone who embraces that. Many candidates have the skills, but how they ‘do business’ matters. How they deliver information to coworkers/customers should be as a kind human. Additionally, I have found through my experience that I really DON’T know everything! That being said, I find it very helpful to engage a few members of our team in the interview process. That typically consists of a casual lunch interview with each of the top candidates and a couple of the peer group with which they’d work. That is wonderful input and insight you won’t get at the ‘boss/candidate’ level. In addition, our team feels more ownership in the decision. That typically shows in the way they treat the new team member, typically getting more engaged to help them be successful. It is important to note that the information the team provides is what I would call a soft ‘vote,’ as I feel the leader of the team still needs to own the final call on who is hired.”

Jarie Bolander, COO at Lab Sensor Solutions

“We hire for cultural fit instead of raw talent since fitting in with the team is much more important than how talented someone is. Of course, there is a minimum threshold of skills and talent that a person needs but beyond a certain threshold, it’s all about how well a candidate can work with others. If the candidate is not a team player than they will never amplify the rest of the team. This is the basis of team building since a successful organization is formed by individuals who want everyone to be successful. If a candidate does not share the “teammate first, team second and themselves third” mentality, the group’s performance will erode, and everyone will be miserable.”

Scott T. Love,  Founder & CEO at AttorneySearchGroup.com

“As a high level headhunter in a unique niche, recruiting partners for international law firms, I see first-hand how important it is for leaders to build great teams. The survivability and sustainable growth of the law firm depends on law firm leaders improving in their leadership skills. What is interesting is that in most firms, there is not much emphasis placed on developing the competencies of leadership, yet these skills are what is most attractive to the most desirable candidates. In essence, effective leaders should focus on a Values/Vision/Mission approach to growing a purposeful enterprise that delivers value on multiple levels. A law firm is a delicate organizational structure. It is nothing more than a collective of peers held together by conditional promises to each other, so from a leadership perspective, these skills are even more critical.”

Monica Wofford, CSP, CEO at Contagious Companies

“When hiring great talent to build a better team, first, consider what’s missing on the team you now lead. Second, uncover what would enable them to work better together. You’re looking for that missing puzzle piece and the wrong one just won’t fit. In fact, it will leave a large and obvious gap the size of an elephant, in the team. To find what’s missing, inventory team skills and strengths. Be specific about what roles they perform well and where they struggle. Add those struggles to your ideal candidate search criteria. Then interview for those criteria. The more clear you are about what you are looking for, the easier it is to spot which candidate is the right choice. Clarity comes from assessing what you have now and ideally what you’d like to have in a perfect world. Then, hiring is about deciding where and if, you’re willing to compromise your ideals.”

Danny Groner, Marketing Professional

“What’s the secret to building a great team? Knowing what you’re looking for, staying patient, and sticking to the plan. The key here is accepting that this will take time to build out and to get right. In a race to fill vacancies, sometimes people will hire qualified candidates for a given role, but the wrong people culturally for their company or department. These may not show up as missteps right away, but over time you will begin to see the strain among valued team members. When the team isn’t getting along, the work will suffer. You’ll never be able to predict every problem or run-in. But you can increase the odds of people getting along and producing good work together if you have your entire small team involved in the hiring process. If they review applications and participate in interviews, you will more surely come to a consensus on the right candidate when he or she comes through. It may take a while to get there, but when you find him or her, everyone — and everything — will fit properly.”

Jason Parks, Owner at The Media Captain

“During the interview process when looking for a new employee, I jot down 5 key traits that I’m looking for in addition to the skill-set required for the position. If the potential employee meets those requirements, I then ask them on the spot where they see the company in 5-years down the road. I can normally gauge whether or not this person will be a good fit for the company. You can run various personality tests but at the end of the day hiring comes down to a gut decision. Business owners need to be prepared before the interview so they know exactly what they are looking for before the interviewees walk into the room.”

Brian Pfeiffer,  Founder & Owner  at Designatea.com

“One thing I’ve found over the years- that an employee who feels they are part of the decision making is golden. The result is ownership in the idea/mission and even the company. The key or trick as a leader though is to really “listen” and include them. The best way to start the session is : “This is what I’m thinking… let me know your thoughts -support it or ‘challenge’ it!” This way they know your position upfront and it gives them a clear path as to what/where they might suggest or attempt to sway you.”

What other tips do you have for building a great team? Leave a comment for us below!

How Do You Build a Great Team? 18 Business Professionals Chime In