How do I know when I'm ready to make my first hire?
My business is growing and I know I will need to hire help soon. People have suggested interns, or office support - but my business relies a lot on my own skills. I have thought about partnering or hiring someone who does essentially what I do, so I can expand based on this expertise. What skills should an individual have to compliment / correct my own? I am not sure what is best. Thoughts? Thanks!
My father use to say that business growth is proportionally connected to a greaat extra par of hands. Don't hire because you have no seen the need to it. You are still mentally blocked with the idea of having someone helping you in any area that will free your mind for what matter to you and iis productive for your business. You don't necessarily need someone with your own skills set; best businesses are those who partners or associates bring complimentary services or set of skills that are align to the owner's business vision. Having someone making you coffee, organizing your paperwork, answering your calls, making your agenda and representing you the best way, are simply an amazing support any growing business needs. Bring a person that you feel interested to work with, that will add value to your work and overall business, and that will make you feel great at it. And while doing that, remember that sometimes business and relationships go tough. Take care.
Understand your strengths and weaknesses, fully articulate your expectations for a partner, hire someone who has strengths to counter your weaknesses...An entrepreneur will lose effectiveness once a certain profitability and revenue stream is reached, and follow up on existing care of accounts is needed...If the numbers don't tell you, your belly will.
When your work is over flowing your working hours.
When you are forced to work overtime.
When your work quality is deteriorating due to work pressure.
When your deliveries are getting late.
When you are on the verge of loosing business due to non performance.
In my opinion you need help at that time and it would be prudent to perform and grow with more working hands.
There are essentially two questions here: When to hire and whom to hire.
For the first part, hire after you can afford (i.e. you have the cash flow to support salary and expenses) but before it is critical. Brooks' Law (Fred Brooks, The Mythical Man-Month) states that adding resources at a critical point only slows you down. The resources will need plenty of attention - bringing up to speed, answering questions, assigning tasks and monitoring results, etc - that you can ill afford when things are critical. The best time to hire, therefore, is when the resource can come up to speed just at the critical time. Since you do not have a crystal ball to predict this exact moment, a rule f thumb may be to hire the resource about a month to six weeks before you need that resource to be producing results. Too early is not a problem unless you cannot afford the cash flow. Too late is a problem.
For the second part, hire someone who complements your strengths. Have you gone through a SWOT (strengths-weaknesses-opportunities-threats) exercise? What would you use a SWOT for? Many people would advise you to work on your weaknesses but I prefer to DELEGATE weaknesses to someone's strengths. Therefore, hire someone who is strong in the areas that you wish you were better at. Over time, you may need to fill all areas of operations - admin, sales, IT support, etc. Initially, however, let need drive your decision. Plug the biggest hole first, then the next and so on down the list of needs.
Hope this helps.
Here's the recipe that I've found most helpful to have my clients apply.
When things are going to plan or you find you have enough revenue to invest in your growth the first are should be an assistant. This can be small scale with a virtual assistant or a part time or full time person who can handle all your little things including schedule organization, correspondence, billing, etc. By far your most valuable first hire is a good assistant.
Second you should invest in a business growth consultant to sit with him/her and map your growth strategy, analyze your needs, determine profitability returns on investment. Then create sales targets, define roles and responsibilities and assume that you are going to continue to grow so what Trigger Metrics (TM) do you want in place (that simply means at what revenue or other marker do you create an action.
I have had to clean up so many bad hires and decisions like "hire some to compliment you," "hire someone who is like-minded," find an "inexpensive sales person," and the list of woe goes on. No doubt this will seem a bit self serving but I promise you, Assistant first, Consultant next and if it's the right fit you will have invested in a plan you can do in a straight line and with conviction.
Without knowing exactly what your business is and why type of services your provide, my recommendation is to hire someone that can automate, optimize and clone some of the things you are doing. If your business truly relies a lot of your own skills - then hiring someone who does essentially does what you do is problematic. It's not only an expensive way to "clone" you, but they may actually walk away with your client list and start their own expansion.
Instead - have a business solutions expert (such as I) to review how you are currently running your business. They will be able to identify areas to streamline, automate, and create effective systems that allows you to better delegate (such as hire interns and office support), releasing cycles of your time to allow you to expand. Sometimes it just a matter of documenting your FAQ's to reduce support-level and enable you to hand-off those calls to someone else, add auto-responders to your email help-desk, provide some How-To videos for the lower-priced services, etc.
I suspect there are lots of areas that you create systems around that will both allow you to "hand-off" and even delete tasks. Having someone to take a look at how you are currently running your business will uncover somethings that you may not be seeing.
If you want to chat more about your particular situation to get a more individualized recommendation - just holler at me.
I always design a skills set matrix to match the necessary skills and available manpower in hand. So sticky points to note are:
1.The matrix is statistic but the business keep changing
2. Manpower now and manpower for the near future need to establish to show skills gap now as well as in the future.
3. While we can distribute the skills to existing employees, we also need to consider whether they have the time to scope with the new scope.
Anywhere, you need some skills/ knowledge/foresight to manage the skills set matrix. Do it correctly, you will be triggered to make the hiring when the times come.
It's ironic but I struggled with this question myself for a long time. I tried all the suggestions you have been given i.e.; interns, office support etc., but I'm afraid you may have to approach the dilemma from another angle.
My suggestion is not to hire someone that does what you do, but someone that can improve what you don't do best or perhaps the bits that you'd rather delegate. This leads me onto the following.
Before you hire, you may want to ask yourself these questions;
1. How good are you at delegating? - There lay my biggest problem quoting your statement - "but my business relies a lot on my own skills"
2. What parts of your business activity can be delegated to free you to do what you do best and improve your bottom line?
3. What will be the costs of hiring against productivity and increased revenue?
Being comfortable delegating parts of your business activity is a good start. Identify the various activities that you feel are not your biggest strengths. You may also want to calculate the costs of hiring against increased productivity and efficiency.
Once you have assessed all of the above, you will be in a better position to know if a hire will be beneficial. You may then have to weigh up the cost implications against the productivity to plot your efficiency and increased revenue curve.
Truth is there are people who are better at what we do really well and there are those who are also really good at what we struggle to do.
Hope this helps. Feel free to connect if I can be of further help.
It depends on why you want to hire someone:
- To relieve you of admin work so you can focus on growing your business - contact a temp agency
- To focus on other parts of the business (sales, engineering, manufacturing) so you can focus on the area(s) you enjoy - hire for that particular skill
- To duplicate your business in another area/market - could be a tough sell (why do they need you?). You could look for like-minded potential partners at local trade associations (or your competitors) - but it may only make sense if there are joint-branding opportunities.
I'd suggest hiring people to do the busy work that is getting in the way of your productivity. So if you find you are spending lots of time answering email and its not helping your business in a productive way, that could be a good indicator to hire someone.
In terms of hiring someone who has similar skills...look at your sales volume. Are you at the point where you can't handle anymore clients unless you hire someone else to do what you do. If so that's a good indicator to hire someone. In terms of skills, obviously the person should have similar expertise skills, but I would also look at marketing, sales, and an ability to manage and direct themselves.