The journey from sole trader to small business employer includes one of the steepest learnings curves for entrepreneurs. Here’s what you need to think about as you approach the problem of hiring staff.
Knowing when your small business is ready to hire staff is one thing, knowing if you’re able to hire staff is another matter altogether.
There are many different aspects you need to consider before you take the plunge and expanding your business.
Here are four essential steps you should address before you put out the ‘Staff Wanted’ sign.
This task should be done at the start of your business journey, but if you find yourself amid work overload and realise you need some help, it’s vital to take some time away from the day-to-day operation of your business and think about what you want your business to achieve.
Having a clear plan of where you want your business to go (and what, ultimately you want your role in the business to be), will help you figure out what staff you need.
By defining the goals and objectives of your business, you can then start to map out how you’re going to get there.
The next step is to figure out what the perfect role for you in your business would be. We recommend doing a skills matrix, so you can identify the key skills needed to progress your business.
By identifying skill gaps, and finding problem areas, you can easily figure out how to counteract the weak zones and improve your strengths.
Be honest when it comes to your strengths and weaknesses though. There’s no point committing to tasks that do not hold your interest or expertise.
When defining your dream role within your business, also remember to factor in the time and skill needed to manage staff and assist with their development.
Be aware of how your role will change once you become a manager and factor the time necessary to perform this role in your job description.
Now you know where you want to be, it’s time to figure out where you are. This means you have to take a long, hard look at your numbers.
Understanding where you are at financially is key to figuring out how to progress to the next stage of business growth. It can often be daunting, as many people prefer to avoid looking too intensely at their finances, but that is not an option in a small business.
READ: Understanding cash flow
If this task is keeping you up at night, there are always professionals who can help. Bookkeepers or accountants can show you how to analyse your budget, help make improvements to your cash flow and advise on the best options for improved profitability. This will help you understand what kind of role you can afford to hire, and what sacrifices you might need to make if you need someone in before you are financially able (the old, spend money to make money scenario!)
Once you know what kind of role you’re looking to fill and when you can start hiring staff, think about what you can offer beyond the bottom line, that is going to make you attractive to prospective employees.
For my own business, it’s non-monetary advantages – like professional training and development – which is also key to retaining staff. We also offer a family-friendly workplace, with flexible work times and progressive leave options. It’s not just how much the role pays, it’s everything else you can offer your staff that can often seal the deal.
It is also imperative to have policies, procedures and processes in place before you hire. This helps new staff understand your business and your key motives, and understand what is expected of them before they take the role.
When you start your recruitment process, it’s essential to be flexible. Sometimes it’s not just about finding the person with all the right experience and qualifications; it’s about finding the right fit for your business.
Skills can be trained, but the right personality and the right attitude can’t be. So it’s important to asses each candidate for not only experience and skills, but for attitude and willingness to learn as well.
The other key to successfully hiring and managing staff is to invest in some HR training yourself.
Human Resources training or even obtaining an HR consultant’s advice is worth looking into. Doing your job is different from being a boss, so investing in developing your skills in this arena is essential to the ongoing success of your growing business.