All entrepreneurs and business owners need to have a solid team in place working toward the same goal. 

There are many hands that can help a business be successful. This may include a spouse or partner, suppliers, a lender, accountant, attorney, employees or even a webmaster. Local government, economic development, business advisers or other agencies are often behind-the-scenes team members and can play vital roles.

There is an inner circle that has the most direct influence. Carefully deciding exactly who to include in your inner circle and making sure those closest to you are on the same page are critical first steps. 

This may seem obvious, but there are many married couples or partners who find out one of them is not supportive of the decision to start a business or are hesitant to expand or pursue financing, resent the unforeseen commitment of time or the fact regular paychecks can no longer be counted on. Managers may not fully understand what is expected, and employees are sent mixed messages. Not only does this cause strife, but creative energy and effectiveness are compromised and may lead to the ultimate demise of a business.

An effective team requires good leadership. The person at the helm must first and foremost demonstrate honesty and integrity. Being a clear communicator and excellent listener who inspires others by demonstrating commitment and passion is key. Delegating and empowering others helps ignite passion and encourages creativity and innovation. After receiving information and input from others, the leader should have sound decision-making abilities, and there must be accountability when things do not go as planned. Identifying strengths and weaknesses or even making the tough decision to replace an ineffective or uncooperative team member who causes discord is essential.

Working with a team is sometimes difficult for those with an entrepreneurial mindset. Entrepreneurs often make decisions quickly and are willing to take risks others do not feel comfortable with. Consulting others with different areas of expertise and experience may slow down the process, but it allows for brainstorming and collaboration. Having more than one person to solve problems and complete complex tasks increases productivity, creativity and chances for continued success.

In addition to accountability, the willingness to “share the win” is an important part of being a strong team leader. People who feel appreciated and see their ideas implemented are apt to continue making positive and meaningful contributions. 

The common acronym “T.E.A.M.” (Together Everyone Achieves More) is very accurate.

Greg Smith is the director of the EOU Small Business Development Center and can be reached by calling 541-962-1532. The office is located at 1607 Gekeler Lane in La Grande with office hours from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Email eousbdc@gmail.com to schedule a one-on-one, free, confidential business advising session.

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