Most entrepreneurial businesses start with an idea and one person -- the entrepreneur. Then they hire another person, usually a “jack of all trades” whose job description is anything the entrepreneur doesn’t want to do or can’t get done. As the business grows the team also has to grow. It is expanded to include employees with more specialized skills and more detailed job descriptions.
While that expansion is a necessary part of growing a business, hiring is often among the most dreaded tasks an entrepreneur will face. In fact, the reluctance to develop a hiring strategy, document best practices and criteria, and initiate a talent search is one of the greatest limitations on the growth of a business.
This week I had the privilege of participating in Entrepreneur Magazine’s annual Growth Conference. The topic was Hiring for Growth. At the Mixer that followed the conference another speaker mentioned that he was sorry he’d missed that session because he felt that hiring was one of the weak links in his business. He asked me what I hoped the audience took away from what I’d shared, and since he seemed to find it so valuable I thought I’d share those three things with you as well.
1. The talent you need may be under your nose.
If you already have employees they should be your first go-to when you decide you need to expand your team. Regardless of what you hired them to do, or how their role might have morphed since they came on board, chances are they have changed as the business grew. Perhaps they have developed a talent that is exactly what you need and you just haven’t noticed. Or maybe they’re itching to learn something new and grow into a different role.
Moving someone who already knows your business, fits your culture, and has a proven track record of taking on new responsibilities into a more specialized or complex role and then hiring for the more entry level position is probably going to be more cost-effective and less of a headache than hiring from outside for a more advanced position.
And if you have someone chomping at the bit to make a move, keeping them in their current position just because they’re good at it is likely to mean you’ll be hiring for both positions eventually. Because if they’re really talented and ambitious they will be making that move, they’ll just be making it away from your organization.
Overlooking the talent already inside your business is almost certain to cost you time, money and frustration.
2. Scout for talent before you need to hire.
If you’re not even thinking about your next hire until the time comes that you need people to interview you’re compromising the growth of your business and complicating your life unnecessarily.
Where is your next hire likely to be hanging out right now and how can you connect with them or with people who know them? Perhaps you need to develop relationships with specialty schools or graduate programs. Maybe you need to connect with industry associations or join Linked In groups that are dedicated to the type of talent or interests you’ll be seeking.
The key is to have the intel and the connections already in place so that when it is time to add to your team you immediately know where to look and who to call.
3. Put the 'human' back in human resources.
The essence of business is really simple. No matter how large or small, whether it sells products or services, or whether it’s brick and mortar or totally online, every business can be boiled down to one or more people who deliver a product or service valuable enough that one or more other people will compensate them for it.
That’s it. Just people, serving other people. If you get so focused on your product or service, or so wrapped up in the description of skills and experience required, or so obsessed with pursing your target market or crushing your competition that you lose sight of the humans who make those products or services possible, or the humans who make up your target market, or even the humans who are pouring their own heart and soul into businesses that are similar to yours, you’re missing the whole point of business and the deepest satisfaction and greatest thrill of being an entrepreneur.