People are the “secret sauce” of success for most small businesses. Moving a small business forward from a passionate and fervently dedicated one-person operation to a viable business is tricky. The first few staff you hire to join your small business team will be the most important bridge to fuel the next stage of your business’ growth.
1. Find Them
Sounds easy, but it can be the most challenging aspect to building a team, especially as most small businesses are on a limited budget. Competing for the best talent on a limited budget is not insurmountable. Certainly, small businesses, in comparison to larger corporations, tend to offer lower pay, less monetary benefits, less security, and fewer depth and resources.
However, the outlook is not so bleak when you consider the advantages small businesses can offer. Small businesses tend to allow broader autonomy, more individuality, more flexibility, more creative opportunities and a lot of professional diversity in the typical workday. From my experience, small businesses must hire a staff deeply connected with the mission and vision of the company. This is not to suggest that pay or benefits are negligible, rather the type of people who will invest their highest energies and give their best efforts may be the most passionate about your mission, and not the most compensated.
2. Hire Them
Now that you’ve found the right fit for you next staff member, what next? Be sure you onboard them seamlessly and professionally. You want them to take this position seriously, right?
After finding the right fit for staff members, be sure to treat the orientation, training process, other business matters and their new position professionally. They will respond in kind. Getting started on the right foot is imperative. I suggest providing new staff with a professional and formal offer letter and, if appropriate, a well-organized and professionally presented orientation package.
In advance of their start date, thoughtfully prepare a written onboarding plan that includes training and orientation, and in advance of their arrival, prepare all equipment, computers, passwords and access, desk and office supplies in advance of their first day. The first impression will set the tone and the expectations of how your new staff will perceive their role and the professionalism of your small business.
3. Engage Them
Once staff is on board, seek to understand the dreams and plans of each of them individually, and how you can help them realize these—ideally through their employment in your business. Be conscientious of how you may adapt and adjust your most talented and valuable staff to fit within your business. I found that the best people tend to demonstrate these basic timeless traits: reliability, diversity and loyalty. These are the individuals who help you out in tough times, are not preoccupied with punching in and out, and simply get stuff done when you need help.
Finally, and maybe one of the most difficult things to do, is to take heed to these wise words, which I was told once: “Hire Slow and Fire Fast.” Especially for a small business, this may be the most concise soundbite of advice I have ever had when it comes to building a team.
Photo: Arielle Thomas