By Lisa Nicole Bell (CEO, Inspired Life Media Group) Women entrepreneurs face a bevy of unique challenges as they climb the professional ladder.
According to a recent American Express OPEN report, the number of woman-owned businesses increased by 50% between 2007 and 2011. With woman owned businesses generating approximately $1.3 trillion (yes, trillion) dollars in annual revenue, strategic team building is a necessary skill for a woman entrepreneur who wants a piece of the pie.
There are five primary ways women entrepreneurs can build teams that support their business goals:
- Think strategically. Women have a reputation for letting feelings and intangibles get in the way of making strategic decisions, especially when people are involved. On one hand, our empathy and interpersonal skills make us uniquely suited to work on teams. On the other hand, that same connectedness can get in the way of making important business-building decisions. Think strategically about who you will add to your team and why. Assess qualifications and likeability in equal parts. Remember that you’re in business to make money. Even if you have a socially conscious mission, your job is to work in the interest of the organization instead of its parts.
- Balance power carefully. When using real or imaginary power, men are often deemed smart, sexy, or successful. Women, however, often earn derogatory labels when owning the same power. Power, like truth, needs no announcement or defense. Resist the urge to constantly remind subordinates of your position and power. Simply exercise it when necessary. Allowing your actions to communicate your power will increase your effectiveness as a leader.
- Act collaboratively. Women are often master multi-taskers when they’re out of the office. Between caring for the people in our lives and managing our commitments, we run from task to task attempting to make it all happen. The modern office is no place for this kind of burden. When contemplating your next team building move, think about ways you can create a triple win. By actively listening to the interests and competencies of your team members, you can craft a role that constitutes a win for them. By choosing the right people, you create a win for yourself and your company. By optimizing your teamwork with efficient assignments, you create a win for the consumer of your finished product. Collaboration is the ultimate business building tool of the new economy. Use it to grow your team.
- Evolve quickly. The modern entrepreneur is facing a highly competitive global environment. The internet has brought about a revolution that moves everything faster. You must position yourself to make nimble yet strategic moves to keep your company competitive. This means that your team has to be just as responsive as you are. When evaluating potential team members, communicate how evolution fits into your corporate culture.
- Fire quickly. Robert Kiyosaki offered sage advice in his book, Before You Quit Your Job. Kiyosaki’s rich dad character advises readers to hire slow and fire fast. A solid team is not a promise of constant harmony. There may be disruptions and some of those disruptions will be indicators of major problems. When you identify a toxic team member, move quickly. The longer you allow the bad apple to linger, the more likely it will spoil others in the bunch.
Think about how you can expand your business with a solid team, and use the five strategies outlined here to build a strong team. The success of your business depends on it.
This post was originally posted at The Young Entrepreneur Council. The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the country’s most promising young entrepreneurs. The YEC promotes entrepreneurship as a solution to youth unemployment and underemployment and provides its members with access to tools, mentorship, and resources that support each stage of a business’s development and growth.
About the guest blogger: Lisa Nicole Bell is the CEO of Inspired Life Media Group, where she and her team meld art, social change, and commerce to create economically viable media properties. Lisa is equal parts artist, businesswoman and motivator. Starting her first company at nineteen, Lisa is now an internationally recognized speaker and published author. Follow her on Twitter at @LisaNicoleBell.