First of all, let me tell you something: YOU are among the best of the best. You’ve taken things far past many others and built a business. Yes, that might have plenty of challenges, but the fact remains: most people never do it. Anytime you take the responsibility to become an owner and an entrepreneur, you step into a morass of educated guesses, systems design and improvement, and – if you’re lucky – growth. Now, with respect to all the gurus out there that have made truckloads of money over the years telling “us” how to grow, I have a few observations to put forward as you look to grow your company from startup or sole proprietor to one with employees, teams, or even offices.
Where do you even start when it comes to hiring some of your first team members? Of course, you want skilled people, but they have all the habits of the companies they worked for before and – maybe most importantly – they are looking for a job for a reason.
Here’s five critical items to sort out as you start to expand the scope of your business:
• Identify and CLEARLY Elucidate Your Mission This may seem straightforward, but trust me, on the “tax” side of things, I see it all the time: Small companies’ morph and change. Sometimes this is a result of accumulating data on what services are most important for their clients and it goes something like this – a small web design company hires a new employee with loads of experience in the social media field and suddenly, the founder is running a social media company far, far away from their comfort zone. Even worse? That company is now depending on one employee to handle a larger and larger piece of the income producing pie.
Know what you do and how you do it and have the vision to change as YOU decide.
• Redefine Diversity Today, “diversity” is usually seen as a call to hire any one of a number of groups but for small business, politics cannot be the driving factor. Instead, the diversity I’m speaking of is in experience. You ARE the owner, but if you are hiring carbon copies of yourself and your skills, you run the very real risk of “group think” and a team of “Yes men”. Seek diversity of experiences and understand how you are going to use and manage those to achieve that mission from above.
• Expand Your Leadership Skills It doesn’t matter if you’re hiring a VA or a sales manager, look for the skills of leadership. You might not even be looking for leaders – or need them – but the characteristics of them are critical. Having people on your team that can make a decision with sound business techniques can be the difference in success or failure. Again, this falls back on the idea of “mission” and if yours is clear and you’ve brought people onboard who understand that mission and can use even rudimentary leadership skills, then you have saved yourself hours of wasted time each week.
At the same time, it is critical that, when these leaders make a decision that is not congruent with your vision and mission, you have the fortitude to manage them and counsel them properly to show them where mistakes were made. You cannot manage by abdication.
• Check ALL the Egos, Even Yours Good personnel know they’re good. They know they can walk across the street and get the same job. At the same time, there is a reason they choose to work with you and when you specifically hire well-rounded individuals, you will have to manage egos effectively. How? Give feedback properly, but never without a subtle reminder of how they might have done the job “better”. Sound harsh? Never-ending praise without some well-founded criticism results in employees, children, and professional athletes who forget who pays the bills. Heap praise at your own peril unless it is deserved. At the same time…
• Accept Imperfections All of your employees are humans and all humans have flaws. When the inevitable mistake is made, acknowledge the why, provide the correct example of what the standard is, and continue to enforce the standard OR understand why that standard may need to be changed. Don’t be surprised if an employee – white or blue collar – pushes back on standards they do not understand or feel are superfluous. Remember the fact that you hired a diverse team? You can ask that team to use their experience to build better standards. Under no circumstances, though, should you have a rule or policy that is randomly enforced or should a failure not be acknowledged.
Sure, these are common sense, but, working as me and the team do with so many companies in so many diverse fields, we’ve seen businesses poised for greatness simply implode due to one or more of these problems. Take the time, now, as the year is winding down and before the holidays really get rolling, to dive into where you and your business really are in each one of these categories.
Make it a great day!