The only way to grow your small business into a real company is to hire employees. While doing this well will be one of your biggest keys to success, it is also the most difficult to achieve. Small-business owners are notorious for being bad at hiring employees who make valuable contributions over a long period of time.
Here are the seven keys to staffing up your company effectively.
1. Know you can't do it all alone. In order to grow a business, you will need other people. Decide which of your skills are most valuable to the company right now. Don’t let your ego get in the way and hire people who are not as good as you. The first employees must have skills that are complementary to your own. Instead of hiring the cheapest person, hire the best fit, even if you need to spend more.
2. Assemble a job description for your first hire. Every time you encounter a task that can be delegated, note it down on a Post-It Note near your computer. After two weeks, that little note will contain the full job description of your first employee. Remember, however, sales or business development at an early-stage company should not be delegated to anyone besides a partner-level employee.
3. Get the word out. "Advertise" the opening in your e-mail signature. Use social media tools to publicize your need for an employee. Like-minded people will find a person to fit into your company culture.
4. Listen and test at the interview. Ask the candidate to describe specific instances when he or she demonstrated a skill that is important for success in the role you are offering. Then, shut up and listen. Most owners talk way too much in an interview. Give the prospective employee a skills-based test for the position. If possible, hire and pay the candidate for a day as a try-out.
5. Conduct extensive training. This does not mean saying on the first day, "Here is your desk, get started!" Even if the new hire comes with experience, teach him or her how to be successful at your company.
6. Solicit and offer feedback often. Weekly, ask what is going well and what needs to be improved. Have you provided your new hire with all the tools and training needed to do a good job? Give feedback on the areas where the new hire is excelling and struggling.
7. Fire poor-performing employees quickly. A few months after the completion of the training period, most employees' performance will not drastically change. Replace any poor performers immediately.
Remember, do not "over hire" or do it at the wrong time. It is much easier to add fixed employee expenses than it is to reduce them. New employees should be only hired to match the growing cash flow of the company. Tie their expenses to increasing revenue or ensure their position will generate sales.Barry Moltz gets small business owners unstuck. He is the author of four small business books. The latest is Small Town Rules: How Big Brands and Small Businesses Can Prosper in a Connected Economy.
Read more of Barry's advice for small businesses.