Among entrepreneurs, I find consensus on just this one fundamental ingredient for a successful venture.
Over and over again, no matter how many times I talk with entrepreneurs about the reason for their success, overwhelmingly I hear the same thing: The No. 1 reason for a successful business, according to them, is not the product, not the timing of opening the business, or the marketing. Again and again, they always say the key to their success is the people they hire.
Successful Entrepreneurs Hire Great People--and Let Them Do Their Thing
Every time I hear entrepreneurs talk, whether it's Richard Branson or Brandon Cruz, president of health insurance leader GoHealth, their belief is that success is driven by hiring the best people, and giving them room to run.
It sounds simple, but it just happens to be true. If you hire "B" or "C" players, it's a lot harder to be successful.
Look to the Future
Recently I listened to a speech from Shawn Riegsecker, CEO of the digital advertising firm Centro, in which he said something that I thought was very forward-thinking. He said he doesn't hire just for what he needs currently, but what he's going to need in the future. What's the next big initiative going to be and who can make it work? He stretches for who he wants, rather than settling for what he can get.
People Over Product
In yet another example, successful private-equity investor Devin Mathews of Chicago Growth Partners recently told me that he is always better off working with a great team and a mediocre product, than a great product and mediocre people.
It seems no matter how many times I look for the answer, I keep learning the same lesson: It's the people you hire.
Take a look at the giants in Silicon Valley. Companies like Google, Apple, and Facebook are always fighting over talent. They want the best people too, and for a good reason: it's what makes them great.
MICHAEL ALTER is president of SurePayroll, America’s leading online payroll service. He received an MBA from the Harvard Business School and holds a bachelor's degree in economics from Northwestern University. @michaelalter