When you have started a business, your first few hires will be some of the most critical decisions you will make. A bad hiring decision can kill the company you’ve worked so hard to build. If you hire too late, the work can build up, causing backlogs and missed orders. If you hire too early, you can burn right through what little cash you have. Hiring someone with the wrong personality can suck the life right out of you.
While who is a big question, there is also the question of what. If you hire someone, what will they do? Will they do sales, administration, or the actual work of the business.
I want to offer a few pointers for those readers who are contemplating their first hires.
1. Look for an Operator
In the Predictable Success model, the essential two-person team for getting through the early days is a Visionary (probably you) and at least one Operator. An Operator is a ruthless finisher. They love to be given a task and then left alone to do it! This is a dream come true for a Visionary. Hiring a great Operator will do more to catapult your business forward than anything else.
If you’re looking for an Operator, you can use our free Leadership Styles Quiz for your job applicants to see how they score as an Operator. Send them to HERE and have them complete the quick assessment.
2. Consider outsourcing first
There are thousands of outsourcing opportunities. It often gives you a skilled individual in a specialized role at a fraction of the price of a full-time hire. You also get to push off dealing with pesky payroll and benefits programs at least a little bit longer. Here are three of the best early outsourcing opportunities.
Outsource accounting to a bookkeeper or CPA. Too often, bookkeeping is wholly overlooked and can get you in trouble fast. A great bookkeeper will simultaneously stay out of the way AND keep your financial reports up to date and in front of you.
Outsource administration to a virtual assistant. Most small business owners are burying themselves in scheduling appointments or responding to emails and phone calls. A great assistant can dramatically reduce the burden allowing you to spend more time on what makes you money.
Outsource your marketing and design work. Don’t do your own design work. Themes are ok, but an investment in great content and attractive design will dramatically reduce the headwinds facing your business in the digital age. A fresh set of eyes and an outside perspective will go a long way to help you craft a clear message that will instantly connect with your customers. If you need help with your marketing, please don’t hesitate to give us a call. We’d love to help out!
3. Hire people you know
So much success within a team has to do with the chemistry within the team. A bad hire you don’t like will suck the life out of you and your business, no matter how skilled they are.
4. Don’t become spellbound by credentials
Your business likely isn’t big enough to have specialist staff who focus on one thing and produce a high volume. Instead, you need generalists who can do a great job figuring it out and getting done no matter what it is. Highly credentialed employees often have a great resume, interview well, and put on a great show, but when it comes time to pack extra orders over the weekend, will they be willing to show up and get it done?
5. Focus on increasing capacity
Don’t hire for ease or interest. Hire people who get paid work to customers. Overhead at this point will crush you. Keep administrators to a minimum. Assistants are ok, but only if you can tangibly point to in increased output of paid work that your customers.
6. Wait a little longer
If you are still in the early days, there is no substitute for your own hard work. When you’re involved and down in the trenches, you have an opportunity to really test your theories out personally in the real world. This gives you the shortest feedback loop, a distinct advantage for a small business. Also, that first hire or two will create a significant cash outflow. They’ll even take some of your time for training, reducing your output as well. Makes sure you absolutely need someone before hiring, so you don’t waste all the time on hiring and training if the work isn’t actually there yet.
7. Hang onto sales activities
Hiring a sales rep too soon is a big mistake. You are more passionate about your business and know more about your product/service than anyone else. If you can’t work out a process to consistently sell it, don’t expect an outsider to be able to come in and sell it for you. It is often better to hand over administrative or operational activities until you have developed a sales process that delivers consistent results.
I know time is money for you right now, but take the time to consider your options before hastily rushing into your next hire. I promise you’ll be glad you did. If you’re wondering how your hiring can accelerate your growth, give us a call for a free consultation.