My favorite five secrets of a great business team? This list came to me first as an answer to the question how do you build a great business team on Quora.  These five points aren’t something from the business school curriculum. They come from the experience of actually doing it, recruiting a team and growing a business from zero to millions. (For more on that story, click here).

My list

  1. No skill or experience justifies lack of integrity. You need to trust the people you work with, and particularly, the people who become key team members to build on.
  2. Diversity makes better businesses. Not for fake political reasons, but for real business reasons. Teams of different kinds of people – gender, background, ethnicity, and so forth– have broader vision than teams of people who are all the same. Diversity has been given a bad name by bigots. It’s not just morally correct, it’s also better business.

What diversity does and doesn’t mean.

  1. Different skills and experience. You don’t want all developers or all marketers, you want developers, marketers, administrators, producers, leaders, and so forth. I see student groups that are three and four people who share the same major; that rarely works.
  2. Shared values create strong bonds. Palo Alto Software was built by a team that shared my founder values about good business planning, startups, and small business. Jurlique was built by a team that shared founder values about cosmetics with only natural organic ingredients not tested on animals. And don’t confuse shared values with diverse types of people, skills and backgrounds. They are compatible, not contradictory, ideas.

Avoid the all-C-level-officers team

  1. Beware of title inflation. Having the first four people all have C-level titles is usually a sign of youth and lack of experience. In the real world, founders are rarely all fit to be C-level officers for the long term. I recommend vague non-committal titles in the beginning, like “head of tech,” “marketing lead,” and so forth. Leave room to recruit stars later on, as needed, with the big titles.

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