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20 Days To A Better Business: Day 15 Build Your Team

20 Days To A Better Business

Each Monday we focus on one activity you can do today or over the next week to build yourself a better business. These short, actionable posts will show you what steps you need to take to take your business to the next level.

In case you’ve missed the previous posts, you can catch up here: 20 Days to Build A Better Business.

This is Day 15: Build Your Team

“First who, then what” – Jim Collins, Good to Great

In the book, Good To Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t, Jim Collins wrote that good businesses focus on getting the strategy right, whereas great businesses focus on getting the team right.  From Collins research he discovered that the best performing businesses focused on recruiting the very best people before they did anything else. His studies found that the right people figure out what needs to be done and therefore you end up with a much better strategy. Plus they have the skills in place to execute the strategy.

Even in small businesses, having the right people on board cannot be underestimated. The right people can not only help you get more done, they can give you insights to areas or ideas you’d never previously thought of. They can do this by challenging thinking, going the extra mile or having a unique talent which gives your business the edge.

In the pursuit of top talent it’s easy to be tempted to recruit good people when you see them and certainly many business leaders recommend  you just that and even regularly interview people even when when they  haven’t got something immediately for them to work on.  However, smart people like a challenge, and if you’ve got nothing that stretches  all their talents and skills then they won’t stay around for very long.

So the trick has to be to recruit when your business is at a cross roads and you need people to take your business to the next level. But you need to be extremely clear about what you’re looking for them to do for you and make it clear to the people you’re recruiting what’s in it for them and how they can make a difference.


  • Rick Byrd said:

    Hey Matthew:

    This is a great point when building and growing a business.

    But I do wonder how one knows if they are getting the best people?

    Is it only recognized if the business becomes a success?

    I know someone that has participated in several start-up companies and those businesses have grown to be successful and he played an integral part. However, when this person tried to start his own business it was not successful. I now wonder, was it the people he hired, his strategy or maybe even both.

    Take care!

    – Rick

  • Matthew Needham said:

    Hi Rick, what an excellent question. Over the years I must have interviewed 100’s of candidates for various roles. Taken part in assesment centres, interview panels and recruited for dozens of positions and managed many large teams. What I can say is that good people don’t need motivating. They instinctively know what to do and generally they do the right thing. This comes from internal self confidence and self belief. They don’t need to be told that they’re doing a good job, they already know. I can’t say for sure that it applies to all the people I’ve recruited, but I would say that the vast majority of people I’ve recruited have answered the following question in a very similar way:

    “how do you know, when you’ve done a good job?”.

    The strongest candidates, in my experience, answer “I know that I’ve done a good job because….”, the less strong candidates answer “because my boss tells me” or “when I get feedback”.

    Now, assesment centres and psychometric testing are great, but for me the Malcolm Gladwell approach, as described in Blink is “that you know when you see it” – shouldn’t be underestimated.

    In my opinion, passion cannot be faked. I once interviewed a guy for the role of Procurement Manager – he looked good on paper but interviewed poorly. Trying to brighten an otherwise dull interview I asked him about why he had decided to train as a football coach (which was on his CV) – his body language visibly changed, he became animated, passionate and lit up, even smiling as he was talking. Talk about someone in the wrong job. If it was a football coach I was after (that’s soccer to you 🙂 ) I would have hired him on the spot.

    Regarding your point about the person you know, a Warren Buffet quote springs to mind “You can put good management into a bad business and you can be sure that the only reputation to survive is the one of the business.”

    Thanks again for your excellent comment, I really appreciate it – great question.