By Dan Golden, President & Chief Search Artist at Be Found Online (BFO)
Recently, I've had the opportunity to mentor a few founders of agencies and startups. They're all sharp and intelligent with a great vision for their companies. It's been a great experience, but almost all have shared a similar thought: "If only I could clone myself."
I understand it. As a company founder myself, there's a lot to do and often not enough time in the day to get it all done. Even if you have a co-founder, like I'm lucky to have, someday soon you'll need to hire. That's when it gets dangerous.
Is a clone really what you need? The answer is usually no. Even if you're a genius and super productive too, the answer remains no. Business growth and success don't come from a team of clones. They come from diverse thought, delegating appropriate tasks and facing and overcoming challenges -- especially from those in your company who challenge your thinking.
Find your complement.
One of the best explanations for this can be found in the book Rocket Fuel: The One Essential Combination That Will Get You More of What You Want From Your Business. In the book, authors Gino Wickman and Mark C. Winters explain how the complementarity of the visionary-integrator relationship creates the biggest, fastest results. Specifically, they note how a visionary without an integrator is less likely to achieve long-term success, while an integrator without a visionary is less likely to realize his or her potential. The book also includes useful assessments to help the reader uncover whether he or she is a visionary or an integrator.
Business growth needs both a visionary to give direction and an integrator to make it happen. That's why when it comes time to hire, I encourage those I mentor to seek out their opposites. Find the person who does well what you don't, or who likes what you don't like.
Do you know who your opposite is? There's a simple way to find out.
Identify what you love to do and what you're great at.
My process follows the Entrepreneurial Operating System methodology. In a nutshell, the idea is to list:
1. The things you love and are great at
2. What you like and do well
3. What you don't like but do well
4. What you don't like and don't do well
EOS recommends you break these lists into quadrants, with the first at the top left, the second at the top right, the third at the bottom left and the fourth at the bottom right. Ideally, you want to prioritize what's in the top two quadrants and delegate those in the bottom.
This brings us back to finding your complement: Who is it? Ideally, it's someone who likes those things in the bottom two quadrants.
Now, if you're just getting started looking for a co-founder, you probably want to focus more on the visionary-integrator relationship. Great founder relationships come from being very different yet having a lot of similarities. When hiring employees, even executive-level folks, you want those who like to do what you don't.
Does it work? Yes, it does. I'm lucky enough to have found a great co-founder who has a lot of strengths that are complementary to my own. Together we started our company and have enjoyed incredible growth. We've managed to scale our growth while maintaining a great company culture.
Accelerate growth through complementarity.
I think Wickman and Winters nailed it when they wrote about the complementarity of the visionary-integrator relationship. Entrepreneurs and founders serve their businesses -- and customers -- best when they challenge themselves and their approach to business. Nothing creates growth like forcing yourself to consider another view on the same subject.
As a business owner, when you do that, you uncover new opportunities. It also makes it a lot easier to define your goals and objectives for growth. For example, our company just recently completed our own growth manifesto that defines how and why we want to grow. Creating it has been a great experience, and it really challenged us too.
So seek your complement in a co-founder or partner. Look for employees who do well what you don't. And never shy away from the challenge it presents.
Dan Golden is a digital marketing executive and currently serves as President & Chief Search Artist at Chicago's Be Found Online (BFO).