If the team is too matey with each other, then there could be an inclination for them to cover up any mistakes, or worse still, pass the cost of their mistakes on to you. It’s, therefore, usually a good idea to have a Project Manager whom you know will be loyal to you and who will call out any issues, even if it means dropping the contractor (or any other team member) in the chocolate.
A dog may well be for life, but the same isn’t true of your professional team. Yes, there are significant advantages to having a long-term relationship, and you shouldn’t be shy about leveraging this when it comes to asking for advice or favours. But invariably, once a project has finished, you’ll be left reflecting on some stellar performances from certain team members, alongside those who in hindsight probably shouldn’t have been on the first team. Worst case, there could be one or two who shouldn’t have left the dressing room. As the boss, you get to pick the squad, so don’t be shy about refining your team after each project to weed out any poor performers.
One role we train people to recruit for ahead of their first project is a non-exec advisor or NEA. This is someone who has previous industry experience, and preferably a lot of it. They could be a seasoned or retired developer or an industry professional such as an architect or project manager. Ideally, you’re looking for twenty years plus, and ‘grey hair or no hair’ is the look to go for (some of us can manage a bit of both). An NEA is a person who you can turn to for guidance and support, someone who can give you warm introductions to good professionals, and critically, someone who will provide you and your fledgling business a lot of credibility, particularly with commercial lenders. In return, you’ll be giving them a share of your first deal’s profits. The critical distinction here is that your NEA isn’t on a retainer; they only get paid once your project is sold. That way, they’re 100% aligned with your own position and will stay with you to the end. Difficult to find? Not if you know the right way to go about it. You’d be surprised how many people relish the advisory role, sharing the benefit of their experience – especially if there’s a sizable cheque in it for them at the end. The beauty of the NEA role is that it doesn’t have to be permanent, plus it gives you some money-can’t-buy benefits without costing your NEA anything other than some of their time.