When starting a small business, many entrepreneurs focus on creating a great product or an eye-catching business plan. They work to build something their target market can’t possibly resist, and that investors can’t wait to throw money at.

While solving a specific problem in a specific niche is a key element to establishing a small business, the number one secret to small business success lies in who you hire to be a part of your team.

That’s right – it’s really all about people. Whether you run a service-based business or sell products online, the people you hire to join your small business team are the same people who can make or break your business long-term.

Gigantic companies like Google, Facebook and Apple all say the same thing: hire amazing people and get the heck out of their way. That means investing in top talent who are ready to hit the ground running to make your business a success. This has been a key principle in growing Shoeboxed from an idea to a thriving business, and we’re immensely proud of the awesome team we have.

When hiring a startup team to support your small business, it’s important to keep your current and future needs in mind. Right now, you may need someone to do your books and manage your social media accounts. But what about five years from now?

When you hire based on the projected growth of your company, you’re far more likely to make that growth a reality. Building a team based on where you want to go, as opposed to where you are now, will allow the people you hire to directly participate in your company’s success. Retention rates will remain high because each and every team member will feel personally invested in the company, and personally rewarded as it grows.

Choosing complementary personality types is also key to building a successful small business team. Just as a winning football team can’t be comprised of all quarterbacks, your startup team can’t be made up of all gregarious leaders, or all stoic followers. Look for a mix of different talents and abilities that will be able to solve a variety of problems and think creatively in group settings.

In order to ascertain how a potential candidate functions in a group, be sure to hold a round of group interviews late in the hiring process. Once you’ve determined those candidates that you’re highly interested in, bring them together in a dynamic group setting and observe their interactions as a team. You can even bring in multiple candidates for the same position and swap them out accordingly to see how each interacts with the group.

While having a stellar product or service to sell is certainly important, it’s nowhere near as important as hiring a great startup team. According to Devin Mathews, Managing Partner at Chicago Growth Partners, small business owners are “better off working with a great team and a mediocre product, than a great product and mediocre people.”

What is the most important quality you look for when hiring top talent?