How do you attract the best possible people to your business? How do you snag that rare person who can help you grow and improve your company? How do you find someone capable of doing what you do . . . when you don’t want to do it any more?
Ask successful business owners what accounts for their success and at or near the top of their lists you will find “the right people.” And with good reason. The difference between an ordinary employee and a star performer is the difference between smoke signals and e-mail. And finding a superstar – someone who can eventually take the burden off your shoulders – is like striking gold.
In my business career I’ve been lucky enough to find a few superstars. And they have made a big difference. When you get one, everything afterward is easy. He will learn your secrets faster than you can explain them. He will take on any challenge. He will figure out solutions before he tells you problems. And most importantly, he will share your enthusiasm (maybe exceed it) and vision.
Right now I am working with three superstars. Each is single-handedly running a business for me and my partners. We provide input, but casually and occasionally. These entrepreneurs produce about $30 million dollars in revenues at 10% (plus) nets. That spells happiness.
I am working with about six potential superstars. When (and if) they are fully fledged, I could (theoretically) kick back and cut coupons.
I was a superstar (for JSN, previously mentioned). Through his careful tutoring, we were able to take a start-up marketing business and grow it to $65 million in about seven years. His son became our superstar and helped us grow larger – doubling in three years.
The Secret of Finding Your Superstar
You can and should find yourself a superstar. You need someone to help you succeed and take some (or eventually all) of the burden from you.
Getting a superstar is a three-step process. First, you have to find someone as good or better than you. Second you have to make him a very generous deal. And third, you must teach him everything you know.
We’ll talk about partnering and mentoring some other time. Today let’s discuss what you should be doing right now . . . hunting for your star performer.
There are so many difficulties in finding a superstar. The most obvious is availability. Like good spouses, superstars are few and far between. Don’t let scarcity tempt you to accept second best. You cannot make an ordinary person extraordinary. It will eat up all your time and end in failure.
Start your search now. Go to industry meetings. Place ads. Talk to people. Even if you can’t yet afford another salary, start looking.
When you meet someone who seems great, strike up a friendship. Find out as much as you can about him. Show interest. Follow his career. Offer to help. When the time is right, drop hints. “If you ever want to do such and such . . . give me a call.” Say it every time you see him. The message will get through.
Don’t Expect Every Seed to Sprout
Do this with anyone who seems great. Keep at it. One day an opportunity will present itself and you will have not just one but several highly qualified candidates. Select and hire the best.
Work with him closely for several months until you’ve seen what he can do. If he has the potential you’re looking for, it will become apparent. Invite him to share your future.
Some people try to retain superstars as employees. They figure they will pay less, risk less and get just as much from them by giving them just enough to keep them happy. This is a big mistake. Superstars are rare birds. If they don’t know their worth when you hire them, they will soon enough. It’s much smarter (and cheaper in the long run) to treat them like partners-in-training the moment you recognize their potential.
It doesn’t matter where you are in your business-building process – even if you work freelance or are only just dreaming about starting your own business – you need to start looking for your superstar right now.[Ed. Note: Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]