Sometimes you just need some help

photo by woodleywonderworks

As a small business owner there are probably a lot of times when you feel like you’ve got the weight of the world on your shoulders.

The reality is that you can’t do it all – at least not for the long run, and if you ever want to take your business to the next level, you are going to have to go out on that limb and get some help.

I’ve had a lot of conversation this week (several of them in BANG! Sessions) with business owners that are struggling with finding help.

In several cases, they’ve been burned previously by hiring someone that over promised and under delivered.  In other cases, they were struggling with the right kind of person to bring on board – the low level assistant that can get the grunt work out of the way?  Or should they bring on the sales lead that can take a real leadership position and really get some responsibilities off their plate?

How to Hire the right person

The first step is to not hire anyone – yet.

Before you hire, what you really need to do is get a clear picture of what your organization really looks like.  Even if your company is currently just you, your brother Daryl and your other brother Daryl, you need to create a detailed organizational structure that includes all of the various departments.

Simplistically most businesses will have an overall leader (CEO, President, Ultimate Leader) and several departments underneath, including operations, marketing, sales, finance, human resources, support (IT, engineering, etc.).

At least at a high level, you should also have different positions identified as part of your Organization structure.  If it helps, imagine what your company would look like in 3 years when you need to have a team of 10 people, what would they be doing?  3 in sales, 2 in marketing, 4 in operations?  Nobody said this would be an easy thing to do (and you don’t have to get it perfect, you just have to have some idea of how the work breaks down).

Now – if you think about the position that you’re hiring for, what – EXACTLY – are you expecting this new hire to do?  Not only do you need that information to get them productive once they come on board, but you really need that information as part of the hiring process.

Once you’ve got a clear picture of what you’re new hire will be doing and how they fit with the rest of your organization (which might only be you), you also need to write down how you would evaluate them for success.  If it’s a salesperson, how much revenue do you expect them to deliver in the first year?  If it’s more of an administration position, what constitutes them doing a great job versus an average job?  Add this information to your position description.

Now you can think about hiring

Depending on the type of position, you will look at different possibilities for candidates.  Here are some things to consider:

  1. If it’s more of a ‘junior’ position, you might consider getting an intern from a local college (or possibly even high school).  Usually this means you’re paying very little, but the downside is that they likely won’t be around very long and you will have to train them on everything.
  2. Consider tapping into your network but only by sharing your detailed position requirements – you don’t need to waste your time on Aunt Mildred’s neighbor’s son if he doesn’t really match what you’re looking for.  Referrals that are a good match for what you want can give you some piece of mind that you’re not just hiring blindly.
  3. Along the same lines, you can post job requests on Linked In and have it sent out to your connections for a fairly low cost – again you need to be very precise on what you want.
  4. Consider using a staffing agency and bringing someone in as a temp to hire.  You’ll pay a bit of a premium but you’ll have a lot of flexibility and you really get to see if you’re a good fit for them and if they’re a good fit for you.  If not – they go home and you get another one.
  5. Post the position in the appropriate locations – local paper, Craig’s List, other local job sites, The Ladders.com (for higher level resources).  Where is your target employee likely to hang out?
  6. Consider using Pre-Employment assessments as part of your hiring process.  Interviews and surface impressions can only give you part of the picture.  It’s almost like buying a car without ever driving it if you don’t use an assessment.

What other ideas do you have on hiring practices?  Share them here.

Shawn Kinkade  Kansas City Business Coach

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