The Most Underestimated Aspect of a Successful Company



This might surprise you if you’re not a business owner. But if you’re a successful business owner, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Read on: The most underestimated aspect of running a company is being disciplined about only bringing people on your team who naturally share your core values. This means that their work style must be compatible with yours.

Many people tend to focus only on finding people who have the right skills, experience, or resume so you know they can effectively do the job you’re hiring them to do. That is, of course, important also. We cannot hire people who cannot effectively and consistently perform excellently at the jobs you hired them to do. But most of my clients’ issues with their people have to do with the fact that they don’t share the founder’s and leadership team’s core values.

I had one client, the founder and CEO of a construction company, who identified taking ownership as one of his company’s core values. But when I started working with them, most of the people in the company tended to check off their daily checklists without taking ownership over ensuring the success of their parts of the business. Whenever he needed them to do anything or implement an improvement we were working on, the founder felt like he had to pull, push, and drag them along. It was draining and exhausting.

Dan Sullivan from Strategic Coach talks about how the number one thing you need in team members is that they come with “batteries included.” They join the team already equipped with their energy, motivation, ideas, and commitment. They don’t drain your energy. Working with them gives you energy.

Because my construction client continued pushing for excellence and growth and didn’t let his team members’ negativity and lethargy stop him from pursuing what he wanted to see from his business, all of those energy-draining people felt more and more friction as they tried to maintain the status quo of their roles. Fighting change and resisting ownership over their results became more and more taxing and unpleasant until they all eventually left on their own. With a number of right-people hires, he now has a team full of people who came with batteries included.

It is possible to have people who fit your core values. You don’t have to resign yourself to having a team full of people who don’t. And anyway, the people you have to let go or leave will be happier and feel more successful in other organizations where they do match the core values.

But There’s More: What I Wish I had Known Before Starting My Business

Of course, having team members who naturally hold your core values is what I consider to be the most underestimated quality of successful business, but before you even hire your team, consider these five things that I believe every entrepreneur should hold in good stead before even stepping into the leadership role. I’ll cover them briefly here.

Have disciplined persistence. You win by staying in the game longer than anyone else. Identify the types of actions that get results and then set measurables to ensure you or your team take a minimum number of those actions every week, month, or quarter. Then later, rinse, and repeat. One of the clients knew that for every 100 target market prospects their salespeople emailed, they got five pitch calls and converted about 40% of those into clients. That’s two clients for every 100 emails. It’s not rocket science, but if you take the right actions consistently over a long period of time, you’ll ultimately see cumulative results you can’t imagine right now.

Help first. Don’t wait until people give you leads before you give them something. Help people out before they do anything for you. When you make this a habit, people don’t resist setting up conversations with you because they see from experience that you want to help them without asking for anything in return. I created and still maintain a weekly metric to track the number of referrals I make to others. It keeps me focused on helping others. It ultimately comes back to you anyway because people remember you as a good person who wants to help others and not just a selfish salesperson.

Be authentic. Don’t try to hide the things you don’t know or pretend like you never made a mistake. It comes across as fake, overly slick, and sales-y. In my Win Win podcast, I ask my guests the questions I feel skeptics about their industry or product would ask. It makes the conversation more authentic and helps them by giving them the chance to address the audience’s implicit questions preemptively. They build more authority and trust that way.

Launch and learn. Things will never be perfect before launching them, and you’re likely to be even further from perfection if you delay testing what you’ve built against the reality of actual use. When I launched as a vetted Fractional Leader referral platform, I immediately set it up using Google forms, Google Docs, Google Sheets, etc. I didn’t want to waste time and tens of thousands of dollars it would have taken to create that automation without even testing which processes worked in real life with actual business owners and Fractional Leaders. Get your MVP (minimum viable product) and launch and learn!

Start with a process. When you start building your business, you’ll be tempted to do things in a way that works at the small scale you have at the beginning. Wherever practical, document your processes and make them scalable. Imagine if you went on vacation on a cruise ship for a week without any access to Wi-Fi or cell phone service. Can the systems and teams you put into place keep your business running without you? For example, instead of your team having to get pricing from you for each pitch or proposal, set up a rubric they can use on their own to do the pricing and pitch without you.

The blog is comprised of modified excerpts from Authority Magazine‘s December 2021 article, “Ben Wolf of Fractional Leadership: 5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Began Leading My Company.”

Ben Wolf Author
Ben Wolf, founder and CEO of Fractional Leadership, has been on both sides of the Fractional Leader search process.
As a leader in companies where he served as Fractional Integrator (outsourced COO), he has searched for and found multiple Fractional Leaders for clients. And as a Fractional Integrator, he has gone through many cycles looking for new clients at the successful conclusion of each engagement.
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