by Tassia Stewart on January 29, 2016
Building capacity and developing successful partnerships are two key success factors to ensure the sustainable growth and scaling of your business. Accelerate Caribbean, in trying to help Caribbean entrepreneurs better understand how to strategically resource their organisations and to identify suitable partners within their entrepreneurial ecosystem, dedicated the second in our four-part webinar series to team building.
Miami-based attorney, Marlon Hill, Partner at Hamilton, Miller & Birthisel LLP, with over 18 years of corporate, intellectual property and government transactions law experience and former president of the Caribbean Bar Association, was invited to lead this webinar, to inspire participants to come up with a strategic plan to pull together their teams and to look at cross border partnerships for their businesses.
Marlon was an excellent choice to lead this exciting and informative webinar. As we delved deeper into the discussion it became clear building a team for business was very much like building a family. First comes love, then comes marriage then comes (you) with a baby carriage! Ha! Ok, it’s a little hard to imagine building your business with this kind of framework. But hey! It actually makes sense. Building a business could be like getting married and building a family when you consider these steps as shared by Marlon:
- Take time to know yourself, know your business. This is the first step to understanding how to move forward, what kind of growth or business expansion would work for you. This involves knowing your market, and having an intimate understanding of your industry, country and diaspora.
- When you are ready seek a partner. In the same way you may seek to find a life partner, you will want to seek a partner for your business. Consider these three main categories of business partners:
- An Innovator: The creative person that sparks the ideas, even crazy ideas, on products and services for your business.
- The Motivator: person that is able to access other people and networks, and motivate people to be part of your vision.
- The person who is going to get things done.
You need all three of these profiles in your team. You may have to conduct a relationship audit to ensure you have all three –Innovators, Motivators and Doers.
- Communicate Communicate! It is very important among your partners to have a very clear understating of expectations, what your partners are bringing to the table whether they be founders, advisory board members, board of directors or even investors. Have an honest discussion about where the relationship is going. You may have this discussion over coffee, a fancy dinner, lying on a beach somewhere or a formal place or boardroom; make sure you’re having clear discussion on expectations. Decide on the roles and responsibilities early on. Who is going to be the CFO? The COO? Who will manage marketing and outreach? How do we arrive at business decisions? Who will have dual roles? Will salaries be deferred during the start-up stages? etc. This is to ensure that your team members are on the same page as yourself, therefore preventing any discrepancies in the long run where these matters are concerned. And keep a record of everything. Do this sooner rather than later!
- Formalize your partnership. Much like a marriage, paperwork must be drawn up to formalize your agreement. Instead of vows said at the altar, you get to do a binding contract, and that’s better than any verbal agreements said anywhere! Documentation is key! More importantly, seek legal counsel from the early stages so that your documentation is properly endorsed and in order, not just for you, but so that your business is in good standing with Government regulations in whichever jurisdiction your business operates.
- Ensure there is a pre-nuptial agreement. Yes, a Prenup for business! We all want loyalty and longevity in our relationships but must plan for any eventuality. Establish the parameters for what happens if the relationship must end. Who gets what? Who pays what? What stays in the business?
- Build out your team. Now’s here’s the cool part. In building a family you’re often banking on genetics (and prayer) to give you perfect children. In building a business team, you actually get to choose the personalities and talents you think would be perfect for your business! Choice is power. Identify critical areas for your business and choose persons who bring relevant skills and talents to the table. Consider that your team can also involve ‘external’ players, for example where you’re partnering for finances or investment. External partners can sometimes be even more critical than those involved in the internal operations of your business. Choose wisely!
- Work to make your family happy and productive. Try your best to keep your team and partners engaged and inspired as they help to build your vision. Ensure that working conditions are comfortable so as to maintain healthy working relationships.
- If things don’t work out go your separate ways! That’s right, sometimes it is best to divorce, even in business! We should always look out for the persons who we’ve decided to go into business with, and try our best to make things work, but just as important, we must consider the best moves for the growth of the business. If moving forward means that you have to restructure your team to get the best results, then take the risk and let someone go.
Thank you to entrepreneur and legal expert, Marlon Hill, for these excellent tips. Happy Team Building everyone!
Tweets on the webinar can be found using hashtag #TeamUpCarib.
In case you missed it Click here to listen to the webinar Team Building for Success
Accelerate Caribbean is designed by infoDev (The World Bank Group) as part of its Entrepreneurship Program for Innovation in the Caribbean (EPIC). EPIC is a seven-year program funded by the Government of Canada that seeks to build an enabling ecosystem to strengthen entrepreneurship and boost job creation across the region. Coming out of a needs assessment in 2014, it was found that we were lacking a silicon-valley-type approach to entrepreneurs, where qualified small business could receive tailored nurturing to improve their competitiveness, and therefore stay in business. The project is implemented by IMC Worldwide Ltd (IMC) in partnership with KoltaiCo, UWI Consulting, and the Barbados Coalition of Service Industries (BSCI).