A one man army never won a war

Every day, somewhere in the world an entrepreneur decides to close shop, file for bankruptcy or “pivot” from one business to another. And the same day, in the same place, an entrepreneur launches a product, a company or expands into a new market.

Many young entrepreneurs ask me the golden question: What makes a successful entrepreneur? And to be honest I don’t know. There are so many variables and they’re never constant because all entrepreneurs operate in different paradigms and different environments. Some come from difficult backgrounds and some have inherited a fortune. Some are experienced in their field, others are learning as they go. Some are in their beginning and others are on their fifth business.

Nevertheless, from observation and experience, I can bluntly say that the one thing that all failed entrepreneurs have in common is that they had the wrong team or no team at all. There is rarely a case where a founder had surrounded himself with the right people and that they have failed to build a company or a product that the market adopted and rewarded.

I know several cases of entrepreneurs with the wrong team and the right product in the right market. And because they were not capable of creating a dynamic between the individuals in their team, they could not sustain the momentum that they had gained when they first launched their product in the market. Everyone thought things could be done differently and the founders couldn’t agree and find a common ground. So they split up and now all of them are struggling to capture the same market, using the same mindset they had, with less resources and lots of remorse from their past experience.

I’ve also seen the lone entrepreneur who has a brilliant, award winning idea or prototype. Everywhere they pitch they receive accolades, awards and grants to bring their idea to life. However, because they feel like they are the business, they end up spending more on themselves, the product or marketing, than finding the right people to help them steer the business. And because of their ego, and their lack of leadership skills they tend to want to be surrounded by followers, rather than partners.

To succeed in business, you need, and I emphasize on the word “need” to find suitable partners, who are as passionate about your industry, your idea, your company and/or your mission. They must be people you can follow and listen to. They must have some expertise or talent that is extremely hard to find in your field, a special something that can give your team an edge. They must be willing to hustle from bottom up and be in a situation where they could also sacrifice time, energy and resources in order for you all to succeed in the venture.

You may be asking yourself, how do I attract or find such a partner? Everyone in my field who has qualifications, talent or is unique, is either running their own business, employed with a satisfying salary, or difficult to access.

You are right. Finding the right partner is difficult, and many times almost impossible. But there is a solution.

Prayer. Yes, you read it right. I said Prayer. You must first be willing to understand the sacredness of finding the right partner. And you’ll hear a lot of successful entrepreneurs say: “I’m so grateful for my partners and my team. Without them I would never have been able to do all that we have been able to accomplish”.

If you haven’t done it yet, then it’s time you get on your knees and pray for the right partner. Either in love or business, your success depends majorly on the 3 people who you spend most of your time with. And I’ve found that your day actually is affected by the first quarter and who you interact with in those first 6 hours of your day. So you must choose to have some great people in your close circle, and ensure that you get to meet and interact with these great people early on in the day. They are your anchors and your guide in bringing your mission to life.

There’s also the importance of integrity, ethics, morals and accountability. These four pillars are essential to a lasting partnership and relationship. Without them, there is no chance of a prosperous future, because someone always finds a way of letting the team down because of something they said and didn’t do or something they did and hid from the clients, the partners or the public.

How do you judge or measure a person’s integrity, ethics, morals or accountability? You look at yourself. It starts with you. If you lack integrity, ethics and morals, it’s hard for you to be accountable for what you say and do. And it’s very hard for you to keep and retain honest, hardworking individuals because you always end up using them, manipulating them or taking advantage of them without ever respecting the agreements you had.

To find great people, you must become and behave like one. Great people are always in search of other great people to do great things together. And once they connect, their businesses flow quicker and faster than ever.

If you feel as if you already have high standards in terms of integrity, morals and ethics, but have a team that is not and are struggling with team dynamics, than you have 2 things to do. Fire and/or praise. You must get rid of anyone who is promoting a bad culture within your organization. There’s no exception to it. I am surprised when people would take a lot of care and precaution when hiring or keeping a nanny for their children, but are slow to act when there’s a negative person in their company dealing with their people, customers and partners.

Fire them! With respect to the laws and regulations undoubtedly, but without hesitation. Great business are not built on pity or self-loathing. Their built on strong foundations and a culture that does not tolerate anything or anyone that doesn’t fit with the vision and the values. They encourage and promote growth from within because they have created an environment that attracts the right people for their organization and enables those people to thrive.

Not every business is the same and not every business should be the same. Even if you’re creating a nonprofit or a foundation, you will come to find that you don’t all operate the same way. So if you don’t have a team of people who blend with the core philosophy and beliefs of the organization, then they will stifle the growth of the organization at the detriment of those who were born to be there.

Once you do have those who are meant to be part of your team, praise them. Cherish them and let them know how special they are to be part of your team and the mission you’re all pursuing. Remind them every day how much you love them and how much you are grateful to have them.

Yes! I said LOVE. Because the most successful businesses have employees who love working with them and being associated to their company. They love the feeling and social recognition that comes with working for their company.

There you have it. Now you know that the success of your venture depends on the success of the relationships you build with the people you’re working with and working for.

Believe in yourself, and believe in your ability to build a lasting organization with a culture that promotes the best, improves those that are willing and excludes the worst.

Africa's most Inspiring Personal Leadership Coach and Trainer | Author of #StartWithin To Start Winning | Helping high achievers find peace & balance