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The Trouble With Hunting Unicorns in Business

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The Trouble With Hunting Unicorns in Business

Steve Jobs was once quoted as saying, “We hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.”
 

If you’re a cutting edge, global tech leader with deep pockets, top of your game and seeking to stay that way by attracting premium executive talent, it’s probably great advice.

If you’re an advice firm looking to scale, it’s probably the worst.

When Branson talks about finding awesome people, he’s talking about the kind of people to help him build a global Virgin empire brick-by-brick, plane-by-plane.

Tesla demand great people because they need engineers who can do things nobody else can.

Even Apple, despite not being as innovative as they once were, still need some of the world’s best designers to stay ahead of the pack.

However, I bet you a dollar to a penny these great people aren’t working in their administration departments, or producing the Tesla version of legislatively-mandated advice documentation.

I doubt they’re spending their time looking after clients who spend only a few hundred bucks with their company.

You need great people on your team if you’re planning on doing stuff no-one has done before.

Outside of that, for a small business, “needing” great people is a death sentence.

I rather suggest you focus on building a business that can be run by ordinary people.

Let me frame it another way.

Imagine your business is a living organism, and that organism requires a certain type of leaf with certain nutritional properties not found in your standard, everyday leaf.

That’s a tough game from an evolutionary viewpoint.

Species that best survive throughout evolution are rarely those who survive on a scarce, niche diet (especially if there is competition for that resource).

Those that can live off various different things are usually the most hardy.

As a small business owner, you’ve got to be careful you’re not building the kind of business that needs super-employees to survive, instead of those you have available.

That’s one fundamental difference between having a business that scales vs. one that is held back by having to find just the right person.

I call this the Unicorn Hunt.

The desire to find that one perfect individual, ideally suited and ready-to-rock who, if you can just find them, will change your business and set you off on a new path.

Even if by some miracle you find them, it’s still a trap for the unprepared.

They perform and suddently it all just works. Happy days!

Then they leave.

Suddenly you find yourself trying to replicate their specific skillset, realising how much of your business was dependent on them and their individual traits.

Now, the detail around what they did and how they did it has left, locked inside their head.

That’s the problem with swallowing the idea that great people are the solution.

You become dependent.

When I work with firms within the Leveraged program, our goal is different.

We’re building “plug and play”.

A system that ordinary, even semi-skilled people can follow.

That’s when you know it’s safe to put the pedal to the metal and grow.

There are four things you need to be able to do this.

  1. Documented processes – Everything in your business is a process. Even the things that require expertise, they’re just more complicated processes that involve subjective inputs. The sooner you get started on capturing this secret sauce, the easier it will progressively become for the next person to learn it.
  2. Video training – If you’re still writing out your processes step-by-step, you’re working too hard. Go to YouTube and type in “tie a bow tie’”. Get a sense for how much easier it is to learn by seeing instead of reading. You can show someone how to do something by recording your screen in a fraction of the time it takes to write it. Then put the video somewhere safe and enjoy the knowledge that you may never need to show a new employee how to do that thing ever again.
  3. Automated workflow – There are hundred ways to cut this mustard but in my book you need four things; simple threads, time delayed task flows, automatic assignment and dashboard reporting. We use Teamwork because it does all of these things and took us less than a week to implement and adopt. Sure, it’s not 100% integrated, but it means that things don’t get missed, which is the most important factor.
  4. Employee onboarding – A common complaint I get from businesses using Virtual Assistants is that they can’t make it work. We have a 4-step onboarding process that completely fixes this by giving your new hires exactly the tools, framework and insight they need from day one. We don’t leave it to chance. How about the way you introduce new hires to your business?
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