Every Business Needs A Bench: 6 Steps To Building A Strong One

Rieva Lesonsky

Friday, July 29th, 2011

How do great sports teams get that way? It’s not just because they have star players (although that certainly doesn’t hurt). No—to field a winning team with the ability to consistently perform under all kinds of conditions, they’ve got to have a strong bench.

A small business needs a strong bench, too. Unfortunately, for most small companies, it’s all too easy to rely on the “home runs” hit by one or two key players. But just because you have a stellar salesperson who excels at bringing in new business doesn’t mean your winning streak is assured. What happens if your rainmaker gets a better offer or leaves your business for other reasons? The loss of your star player may not be as big a deal as when Lebron James abandoned the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Miami Heat, but it could beearth-shatteringfor your business.

To protect your company’s future, you must ensure thateveryoneon your team is ready to step up to the plate. Try these five steps to building a strong bench at your small business.

1. Build your own team

I’ve always believed in promoting from within whenever possible. It sends a strong message that loyalty, performance and productivity are rewarded, not sidestepped in favor of new blood from outside. Let your team know you’re dedicated to building a bench.

2. Pay attention to what people are good at

What are each employee’s job duties? More importantly, which of those roles are they really good at? Look for ways to enhance those skills, which can only help your company succeed.

3. Assess what needs improvement

Where is each individual, each department and your overall business weak? Not every employee can be good at everything, but every business (or department in that business) needs its employees to add up to a strong team. Pinpoint the areas that need shoring up to get your business in top condition.

4. Pay attention to what people want to do

I mean this in both a short- and long-term way. Maybe you have an employee in accounting who’s great at creating and using spreadsheets. But maybe (short-term) she doesn’t really enjoy spreadsheets and would like to spend more time doing something else. In fact, maybe she dreams (long-term) of creating custom dashboard software that would help your business maximize the data in those spreadsheets.

5. Set business goals

Trying to build a great team without knowing what you want that team to accomplish is like training for the high jump and then trying to compete in the Super Bowl. Setting goals requires the kind of strategic thinking that can be hard to fit into an entrepreneurial day. But you must make the time.

6. Train your team to fit your goals

If you can match your employees’ skills and interests with your company’s growth needs, you’re on your way to having a winning bench. Job shadowing, cross training, attending industry events and conferences, and online training are all smart ways to teach your employees new things without spending a bundle. Before you know it, you’ll have a well-rounded team instead of a couple of hotshots—and your business will be performing like a champion.

Article courtesy of OPEN Forum

About Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky, founder and CEO of GrowBiz Media, is a widely recognized small-business expert and author of the bestselling book Start Your Own Business. Former Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine, Rieva has been meeting with, consulting to and speaking to America’s SMBs—and the big corporations that want to reach them—for over 25 years. This experience has given her an inside perspective on what entrepreneurs want, how to connect with them, and how to help them grow successful businesses. Rieva has worked with B-to-B marketers including American Express, Dell, State Farm and many others, and with organizations including ASBDC, SCORE and the SBA, to market to and educate entrepreneurs.