I’m an Expert! You could be too.

Building an effective team is one of the hardest tasks for any entrepreneur. It’s like how I shop for my house (yes, I am comparing people to furniture). I go out looking for a dining table, but end up finding a sofa that I love at a great price. I need a sofa too, but I really need a dining table first. I come home with a sofa.

Finding the right people is so hard, and finding the right person with the functional skills you need at that moment is even harder. This is especially difficult for a young entrepreneur who has not yet built any pattern recognition and has limited resources. You want to move fast, and spending the time and resources you’d need to find the “perfect fit” is rarely an option. Oh, and like I have a budget for my dining table — you probably have a budget for your next hire.

But the reality is: hiring a person is an investment. This investment is not just their salary; it’s also the tools you require to support them. More importantly, it’s your time and your team’s time to onboard, teach and integrate this person. “Fit” is very complicated in a startup. Finding a person who fits with half of your employees is promising, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll fit with the second half. It is one big chemistry experiment. Never discount the impact of a new employee on your existing employees.

In my work, I help entrepreneurs build successful startups. I tend to be the chief diagnostician. It’s not that I have all the answers, but rather that I can help diagnose the current issue and point an entrepreneur to a resource that can help them solve that issue. Many of my diagnostic strategies have arisen naturally from pattern recognition, knowledge of the basics, and almost 30 years of experience in the startup world (I built my first startup at age 19). However, I am always on the hunt for tools. I love the Gallup assessments like the Clifton StrengthsFinder, but have always found that they are best for teams of 5+ people. Startup teams are oftentimes only two or three people.

Recently, I found a tool called the Gallup Builder Profile 10. This assessment analyzes your strengths and traits and then categorizes you as a Rainmaker, a Conductor, or an Expert. The fact that it started with a 3-person team struck me as helpful for a startup. I took the assessment myself as a starting point. I thought for sure that I would be a Rainmaker, as I have been the revenue-focused leader in all my endeavors. The assessment took 30 minutes. It turns out that I am an Expert, meaning that “being the best in [my] field is crucial for [me].” I’ll be sure to post these results on Slack for my team, and let them know that I am a little concerned now; I thought I was a Rainmaker, but since I’m not… this could mean that we don’t have a Rainmaker on our team.

I am an engineer through and through: both by training, and in the way my brain works. That “EQ thing” is hard for me, and so the human side of business has always been hard. The idea that there is a tool like this — one that really simplifies the diagnostics of people relevant to startups — is very exciting to me. Whether you’re building a team from scratch or just searching for that last puzzle piece, understanding your unique profile (and the profiles of any current team members) makes it easier to figure out who you should hire. And when each new hire is an investment, it just makes sense to use any tools within your reach. So if you’re an entrepreneur looking to build your team, give the assessment a try and tell me what you think. Or, let me know if there’s a similar tool you prefer.

And in the meantime, if you come to my house for dinner, you’ll probably be eating on the sofa. Eventually, though, I will have a dining table — whenever I find the right one for the right price.