Eugene is the Founder of The Litvak Team @ Compass — one of the top producing and largest teams at Compass.
Every entrepreneur knows that the act of launching a business is never as simple as developing a great idea and bringing it to market. Even the best product or service requires the backing of a strong organization and motivated employees. I’ve used the following building blocks to help build my own real estate brokerage and believe they can help any business leader create an effective operation through the launch phase that flexes to pivot to future needs.
Define Your Core Values
Carefully codifying and communicating core values is the backbone for creating efficient, long-lived organizations – based on my experience and that of fellow entrepreneurs, my business coaches and my brokerage’s top management leaders. These values aren’t just empty words you’ll throw up on your company website or office walls. They are the essential characteristics, behaviors and guidelines necessary to achieve success. They are the rules of the road and guiding principles that employees can turn to again and again when they wonder, how can I be most effective?
At my Compass brokerage, a few of our best entrepreneurial principles are: Move fast. Learn from reality. Collaborate without ego. I think those directives are excellent guideposts for nearly any situation or challenge. Move fast encourages you to make quick decisions without getting waylaid by the idea of perfection. Overthinking and dragging your feet, especially in real estate, results in missed opportunities, more often than not. Learn from reality teaches us that every great concept needs to have roots in the real world. Put another way, don’t fall in love with your ideas. Instead, fall in love with feedback, and be willing to pivot accordingly. Lastly, collaborate without ego is a constant reminder that an unchecked ego — the need to crow about success or garner recognition for every action — is a surefire way to hamper creativity and the contributions of others.
Spend as much time thinking about your organization’s values and principles as you did conceptualizing your initial business offering, if not more. What are the critical components of your ideal company culture? How do you want your future employees to view their roles? What behaviors and actions will define success in your organization? The answers to these questions will be instrumental in bringing your business concept to the world.
Create High-Functioning Teams
There are four critical components to building a high functioning team, which, not coincidentally, are four qualities that also make for a great manager.
1. Hire the right people. Tapping the right people is the most challenging part of creating great teams. The fact is many of your hires won’t work out. Rely on the core values and principles you developed to match potential candidates within the context of the role and your company goals.
2. Design the right organization. Finding the right people is critical, but do you have them in suitable silos or teams? Are those teams connected in a way that maximizes efficient collaboration? Does each person and group have adequate resources? The demands placed on the organization will naturally shift and change over time, so revisit your org chart often.
3. Diagnose problems. The ability to diagnose problems is integral to creating high-functioning teams. There’s a tendency for managers to peg individuals as the root cause of an issue, but company processes, leadership or a lack of resources are often to blame. The ability and willingness to spot and solve problems are imperative at any stage of your company’s growth.
4. Provide clarity. In any fast-growing business, context is going to shift and people will change. As a leader, you’ll need to provide clarity often. Share with your people what matters, what doesn’t matter and why. Clearly define what success looks like and the results you’re seeking in every scenario.
Be Willing To Grow
Your optimal values and team members are in place, so now what? A major obstacle many businesses face is being unwilling or unprepared to grow. Expect growth and embrace momentum when it comes. All the money and resources in the world can’t do for a company what momentum can. With the right values and people in place, you’ll be well-prepared for this growth. The best entrepreneurs will be grappling with rapid growth while also future-pacing and looking six or more months down the road.
The worst thing you can do during a period of rapid expansion is to compromise your company’s core values. Sure, you could bring on employees who don’t align with your culture, but I guarantee that will backfire in the long run. Of course, you could decide to bend or break with one of the company’s established principles, but how can you expect your employees to rally around them afterward? Never mortgage your values in the name of growth. Growth is hard, but the right people and the right values make it all possible and worth it.
If you lend your focus to these three things, you can build a sustainable business and a level of success that reaps rewards that far exceed financial returns.