Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
As the founder of a successful real estate investment platform connecting investors with national holdings in commercial and residential properties, I have learned a great deal about leadership, culture and talent. In building a team of employees at 1031 Crowdfunding, I have had to learn the basics of managing a workforce and building up a healthy, productive and fun internal culture while also attracting accredited investors.
I have some tips for entrepreneurs that might apply across various businesses and industries that involve hiring and honing talent and growing the right culture that pleases employers, employees, customers and clients. Culture, combined with passion, is the key to success and longevity as a business, regardless of your industry.
Related: 5 Ways to Create a Great Company Culture
Whether you work in real estate or another industry, and you want to start up your own business, the most important thing to understand is that just because you're an entrepreneur, you're not automatically also a good manager. In this situation, you have to surround yourself with colleagues who are highly skilled at the art of managing other employees. I prefer to isolate myself, put my head down and focus on my job. With the high-functioning team around me, it's easier for me to allocate more time to sales, strategy and growth, as opposed to employee management.
Managing also requires a grasp on psychology: You have to understand people's unique personalities and feelings. When it comes to starting a business, stick with what you know, and be cognizant of what you don't and of where you need support. The bottom line: If you're not a good manager, bring good management around you.
Once you have a senior management team in place, the next step is to create a healthy culture by hiring individuals with the right drive and goals. According to PwC's 2021 Global Culture Survey, 67% of people believe culture is more important than strategy or operations. Make sure that whatever your passion is, it's matched by those you hire.
I have some team members at my company who are in my family, but they have earned their place and continue to work hard to showcase their value. If you hire family members, I recommend keeping your company a meritocracy. Blood relation isn't enough of a reason to hire and keep an employee; like-mindedness and enthusiasm for the business are also deciding factors. When I hire outside of my family, I do so based on referrals. Cultural alignment is critical to sustaining a healthy internal culture, which boosts productivity and output, ultimately keeping investors happier.
Related: 6 Steps for Hiring the Right People to Build Effective Teams
Employees should share a sense of urgency, responsibility and passion for your business. It's also a two-way street in that, as a business owner, you need to provide an opportunity for your employees to grow their careers by working to earn higher titles, promotions and raises. A strong culture is one where employees can not only educate themselves but also strengthen their skillset. While it's necessary for many employees to start at a more entry-level position because of their experience level, it's critical to create an environment for them to be able to work their way up. These are key to building a business that can survive and thrive.
When assessing potential candidates to join your company, being a good judge of character and work ethic is important as well. I can tell when I look into somebody's eyes how much and how hard they work. I personally have dark circles under my eyes constantly. Many entrepreneurs are sleeping in their offices, working seven days a week, maybe 16 hours a day. When you try to start a business, it's not a 9-to-5. It's 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
While you shouldn't expect your employees to sleep in their offices or burn the midnight oil all the time, having a deep commitment to hard work is important, especially for an entrepreneurial firm with a lot of growth potential. Success is never overnight, and the journey can be arduous. But once you reach a point of success, you can appreciate what you have built. By relying on the right team, you're going to sustain success by making wise and reasonable decisions.
Overall, building out the right team to manage the entire workforce and selecting employees whose cultural values align with your time are key to running a successful, productive and healthy business. Now more than ever in a post-pandemic working world, culture is critical to helping sustain startups and even more established businesses.