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The Secret to a Great Hiring Strategy for Entrepreneurs – Keeping it Flexible Flexibility needs a lower level of compliances, making work more dynamic, got signed contracts, retainers or MOU's?

By Anju Kanodia

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Entrepreneurs by habit are problem solvers. This skill is acquired over time through personal experience and sheer determination make their business better. Behind every great disruptive business is a solid untapped idea that has been nurtured, tested, chased, optimized and improvised. That's why it's called "building a business." For your idea to fructify and achieve the vision, you need the right team working seamlessly.

Businesses move through various stages, from inception to an IPO or perhaps even a lucrative acquisition. While the end goal or exit for every entrepreneur maybe similar, time plays a crucial role in how and when you get there. If all goes extremely well, you get acquired in less than a year. Think Instagram. There is the common adage that you should be mentally and emotionally prepared to commit a minimum of 5 to 7 years to any start-up/venture. If you consider this time-span, that's a lot of hiring, restructuring, and overall people management that needs to be done well.

Building your business with traditional full-time hiring comes with its own set of challenges. You need to have a solid HR department tasked with creating all sorts of guidelines, documentation, compliance and employee-related policies. All of this consumes time and costs money. While we are not dismissing this approach completely, especially for key employees and to maintain a compliant organisation, there is another viable complementary path open to entrepreneurs to look at. Accessing and working with a flexible, on-demand pool of talent to assist with the various needs of your business has become an essential ingredient to grow and stay competitive.

This led to my realisation that not all "jobs" are equal and neither do they have the same urgency. When you hire long term, you are putting faith in the ability of an employee to deliver over time across all mandates. But what if there is a skill void for an urgent project or task that needs completion? Is hiring full time necessarily the only solution, especially when the labour marketplace is pivoting to on-demand across the world? It would be foolish to be so rigid. We want jobs/tasks/products/services to be delivered on time and with the desired level of quality. As an entrepreneur, it's your job to work that much harder and smarter than incumbents. This trait gels well with tapping into the flexible workforce to accomplish certain milestones and deliver value to your customers wherever possible. The secret is not just flexible hiring but not missing out on harnessing the power of this new-age workforce. Allow me to elaborate in the following sections:

The Cost of Not Knowing

As entrepreneurs, we have the tendency to be a jack of all trades. We may excel in a certain chosen field but there is a responsibility to be a so-called "all-rounder" when running a business. If we see a knowledge gap, we should fill it at the earliest. The cost of making ill-informed decisions can be sky high. As this flexible work phenomenon & the gig economy take shape and grow, we must stay in tune and up to date about this industry. Knowing what's out there, the differentiation within the market, the technology being developed, and what it takes to implement this for your organization indicates a level of readiness. In fact, most statistics in this sector clearly outline that businesses are leveraging this workforce already in growing numbers. You can't afford to be in the dark.

The Revised Cost of Expertise

Flexibility needs a lower level of compliances, making work more dynamic. Got signed contracts, retainers or MOU's? Well, then you are locked in or getting there. When we look outside for help or expertise, it usually means consultants or freelancers. Certain functions that require expertise need to be outsourced from time to time so we can focus on the core aspects of our business model. Having access to a flexible talent pool affords you the opportunity to limit your costs while looking outside for expertise. Before diving headfirst into a larger investment, perhaps try the leaner approach of getting your needs addressed at a smaller scale. At the end of the day, if you can achieve your milestones by using part-time job seekers, you would have avoided potential sunk costs and time management strains.

The Cost of Not Having Clarity

Traditionally a business will operate with fixed time frames and periodic milestones, like quarterly targets. Your teams will work to deliver the desired outcome that is measured on such timelines. It can become difficult to pinpoint individual outputs or monitor progress at the micro level constantly. If things don't get executed as planned, then you debrief and try to figure out what went wrong. To minimize this risk, creating well defined narrow projects wherever possible that can be assigned on a part-time basis leaves you with a much shorter time frame to measure output and accountability. If you can manage to identify, define and plan such projects, tapping into the flexible talent pool will give you a much smaller loop from start to finish. Analysing such projects can be simpler and more insightful to your core team.

The Cost of Firing

This is straightforward but often overlooked. The costs associated with a larger than needed team can be catastrophic. Not having well-defined roles or clear employee requirements can lead to mismanagement and overstaffing. Time and money are spent on employee on-boarding, training and monitoring. Do you need to have "bench" strength? Being an entrepreneur means knowing when to say no and when to pull the plug. Tapping into the gig economy reduces your propensity to make such errors.

All of this follows back to the chain of thought that not all jobs are equal anymore. When talent is actively seeking to try out this model of employment, businesses must follow suit. You are no longer guaranteed to find what you are looking for nor should that be the required approach anymore. Sitting down and forecasting your needs while keeping this shift in the job market in mind will serve you well in the future. Your business can succeed and grow, both with a mix of full time and part-time arrangements.

Anju Kanodia

Business Head, Wakency

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