Why businesses succeed (part 4): They ‘hire’ the right people

now-hiring-nathan-stephensEvery business starts with a single entrepreneur or a small team who launch the business. There’s not a lot of money, so the solopreneur or the team needs to perform all the important tasks – marketing, sales, production, delivery, collecting money, accounting, paying taxes, and everything else. If all goes well, the business starts to grow to the point that the founder or founders can’t do everything themselves. They need to add to the team.

Adding to the team may mean hiring a full-time or part-time employee, or finding an independent contractor who specializes in one particular area (like web design, marketing, accounting, or taxes) and works for several different companies. Whatever kind of ‘hiring’ you do, there are several things to keep in mind:

Don’t ‘hire’ someone just like you. A “mini me” isn’t what you’re looking for. You want someone who has skills that you (or your team) don’t have.

Be clear why you are ‘hiring’ this person. What problem do you need to solve, or what opportunity do you want to address?

Build a job description for the new ‘hire’. What results will this person be responsible for? What duties and tasks will he or she perform? Who will he report to? How will performance be measured? What resources (budget, computer systems, other assets) will she have access to? This is especially important if you have a founding team rather than an individual. If the team doesn’t agree on this, conflict is almost inevitable.

Don’t just select based on technical skill. Personality, attitude and ability to learn are at least as important as technical skill. Many experienced entrepreneurs say “hire for attitude, train for skill”. Henry Albrecht, CEO of Limeade, has a very strict hiring rule: “no jerks. none. ever”.

Prepare the new ‘hire’ to succeed. As a small business, we want the new ‘hire’ to “hit the ground running”, but it’s better to make sure the new person clearly understands his role and responsibilities, how she will fit in to the company, and what policies he or she will need to follow. What you don’t want is the “oops syndrome”, where the new person says, “I didn’t know I was supposed to do that!”. You or one of the other founders should spend some time coaching the new person and giving her timely and regular feedback.

Don’t wait until the last minute. When money is tight, we often hold out as long as possible before hiring someone new. But this can lead to a rush to hire someone. It can take some time to find the right person. Start looking for people before you need them. Ask business contacts to recommend people they know. Keep your eyes open when you are networking.

SCORE counselors are available locally or on-line to help you create and manage a successful business. Call us in Pinellas County at (727) 532-6800 or go to www.pinellascounty.score.org. Also check out this online webinar: http://www.score.org/workshops/hiring-right-employee

Photo courtesy of Nathan Stephens via Creative Commons license.