The power of being positive – part three


I’m making good progress with my book, with the working title One in Ten – How to Survive Ten Years in Business. Click here to read part one of this chapter and click here to read part two.

The right way to recruit

The E-Myth Revisited, by Michael Gerber, is a book that talks about how many people start up a business, doing what they are good at – they are the Technician. The next level of the E-Myth is the Management of other people as the business grows. The top level is that of Entrepreneur, with the business owner looking for new challenges and new business ventures.

Like many businesses, I started as the Technician. I enjoyed writing marketing copy, so I set up a business doing exactly that. When I started my business I did not think I would ever take on staff; there would always be just me and I would never grow the business much. This was partly because I did not understand The E-Myth when I first read it and did not see how I could grow the business. I was a good copywriter, building up great relationships with my clients. How could I outsource that to someone else?

Many businesses start this way, set up by people who are good at what they do and who want to make a business out of it. Many businesses carry on this way and never grow beyond what one person is capable of doing. There comes a point when there is not enough time to do all the work that is available and decisions have to be made. Do you turn the work away and risk losing clients, or do you look for someone to work with, to share the load and help you grow your business?

The first stage is to find other people who can do what you do, just as well as you can. For me, this was about working with freelance copywriters. Then you start learning to manage the relationships between your clients, your ‘writers’ and your business. All of a sudden, you find yourself heading into Michael Gerber’s Management level. In 2006 I knew I would be moving house the following year, to a home with a separate office, so I knew it was time to take on my first member of staff. Instead of using virtual administration support to help with the smooth running of the business, I decided to employ someone to do the work that I did not want to do.

So how do you find and recruit the best person? If you have never recruited someone before, the task can seem rather daunting, so the best thing to do in these situations is to ask an expert for advice. When I needed some help, I asked an HR specialist who needed some marketing help in return. We developed a recruitment process that I have been using ever since.

The first thing to do is think about was what the job of your new member of staff will entail. You need to write a detailed job description and you can start by compiling a list of tasks. Every time you find yourself doing something that you are not good at, or that you do not like doing, put it onto the list. It will not long before you have a long list of tasks that need to be done. Look also at the personal attributes you are looking for; this can be as important as the skills. You might need someone with lots of initiative, self motivation and a sense of humour. For your first member of staff, you may need someone who is up for a challenge, to help you grow your business.

Next you need to think about where to advertise the job. Depending on who you are looking for and whether the job is full time or part time, you may realise that your new member of staff might not even be looking for a new job. Advertising in the recruitment section of the local paper, or with recruitment agencies could be a waste of money. Think about who you know in the local area – schools, groups, places with notice boards, your own newsletter if you have one.

Once the applications start coming in, what do you do with them? If you have a process to follow, regardless of the number you receive, you will be able to deal with them, without it taking up all our time. Telephone interviews are a great way to start, as they allow you to assess their verbal communication skills first. How do they come across on the phone? Some people find it easier to answer questions in a face to face setting; some people do not like using the phone, so you might want to know how your applicants can cope without first meeting you.

Telephone interviews are also the first stage of the selection process. It allows people to ask you about the job and your business and some applicants may decide the job is not for them. You may decide they are not for you, especially if, when you ask them why they are interested, they tell you that they are not really bothered about your business and they just want a job! Those who impress you can be asked to send a letter and CV, so you can assess their written communications. Badly written emails and spelling mistakes should not pass the test.

Next you have to make decisions about who to invite for an interview. You should be able to narrow it down to three or four. Think about the questions you want to ask at the interviews. Look for tools you can use to gauge things like learning styles and motivation more accurately than just asking what motivates someone. These tools are useful for assessing different applicants against the same criteria and they make the process of making your final decision much easier.

The process of taking on my first member of staff went very smoothly and the choice was a simple one. Dianne lives close to my office and has a lot of experience, heaps of initiative and self-motivation and she is always up for a challenge. She joined the company in December 2006 and is still with me, as I write this in September 2010. She is the rock within the business. She is always there, always dependable. She keeps us calm in times of stress and tells us off for swearing; she works brilliantly with our clients; and she has us in fits of laughter on a regular basis. I recently nominated Dianne for an award to recognise the contribution she makes to the business and she won the regional final.

Successful businesses need people and they need support. Whether you decide to work with freelancers or take on staff, work out a process for doing it, work out exactly what and who you need and you will be able to grow a team around you and move up the E-Myth ladder.


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