Is it time to expand your small business team? Have bookings and sales accelerated beyond your ability to stay a “solopreneur?” First of all, that’s great news– congratulations!
Hiring your first employee is both exciting + potentially frightening. There’s payroll, taxes, worker’s comp… how does all that work? We’ll address those things in another post. What we’ll zero in on today is the question, “How can I know if I’m hiring the right person?”
Choose your company culture
It’s important to lay a solid foundation for your team before you start hiring. That means becoming very clear about the kind of company culture you want to have from the get go. What’s the “why” behind your business. You’ll have to answer questions like:
What are my core values? What am I trying to achieve with my company? What goal(s) will we work to achieve as a team? What do I want the environment of the company to feel like? What do I want my team to be passionate about?
After you’ve thought through the type of company culture you’d like to have, you’ll need to develop a set of expectations or standards your team will need to function by. One of the number one frustrations of people in new positions is a lack of clarity. What am I supposed to be doing? When and where am I expected to do things?
This is a great time to write a quick “Service Standards” document you can share with your new employees and/or interns. You can address the who, what, when, where, and why of your growing business. It will give your potential new teammate a clear picture of what you’ll expect from them.
As we interview prospective new team members I take a full hour to go over our company culture and our expectations. If someone can’t or won’t align well with our expectations, then we know we need to keep looking for someone else to fill that slot. It has helped us so much– we have an amazing new set of teammates!
This is where you address the “how” of your new hire’s position. To set your new teammate up for success, it’s important to have a clear picture of how they will perform their job. It may be a loose structure at first until you can figure out how to maximize their productivity… but it’s important to have a jumping off point.
Not sure how to build a system for your employee? Here’s a good place to start. What process do you use to take your clients from booking/buying on through the life cycle or completion of their time with you? Where could you use the most help within that process? It could be fielding customer service inquiries, sending sales emails, or posting to social. Then think through how your teammate can do those things most efficiently.
As time goes by your systems will grow and change. That’s a good thing! You should always be striving toward the next best iteration of your company. Don’t get hung up on having it perfect from the get go.
Commit to communication
Another big pain point of most new hires is unclear communication. You’re running a thriving, growing company and it can feel like there’s never enough time. In those moments, communicating with your team may not feel like a top priority, but it should be.
Part of having a team you love, is fostering healthy relationships with them. And we all know communication is key in the survival and growth of a relationship. It’s how you build trust. And you want your team to trust you during times of growth. You’re usually asking them to take on a lot of responsibilities or to maybe do something outside of their comfort zone… but if they trust you, they’re willing to go on that journey with you.
Don’t be intimidated
It’s entirely possible that you may have an applicant who is amazing. (That’s a good thing, right?) I mean, she (or he) is beautiful, talented, wildly creative, passionate and totally has their life together. For some small business owners, that can be intimidating! A voice in your head may be saying, “They’re more talented than me– that’s not right!?” But, sweet friends, that may be exactly what we need. If that person is the perfect fit for your company, you may have to overcome some personal insecurities for the greater good of your business.
Don’t hire out of desperation
Things are moving and growing and you NEED help. It can be tempting to hire the first person that comes along. But I want to caution you that hiring out of desperation usually has a messy ending. If your new hire doesn’t align with your vision, purpose, and goals, they may not give 100% to their position. By extension, your clients my end up suffering for it. And if your clients aren’t happy, it can hurt your bottom line. In our experience, you’ll have to fire this person eventually, or worse, they may quit unexpectedly while leaving you high and dry.
Having a team you love starts with a whole lot of intentionality. While it is a process, it doesn’t have to be intimidating. It’s a chance for you to dream of the next phase of your company and what that will look like… then finding people who fit within that vision.