Posts Tagged ‘management’
Who should you hire? Such a complicated question – a person you hire could mean anything from your new small business propelling forward in a new direction or your new small business chugging straight toward a dead end.
If you are a small business owner, the people on your team are so incredibly important to the success of your business. It is crucial (and also highly difficult) to hire people that will add value and substance to your business.
So how do you do it?
Share your vision
I recently attended a lecture on entrepreneurship given by William J. Rossi, a program director and professor at the University of Florida. His lecture explored the attributes and mindsets of entrepreneurs. The most important attribute Rossi discussed was the ability an entrepreneur has to share his vision with his employees, and make them feel like a part of something bigger.
The greatest entrepreneurs have a vision. They visualize and imagine a direction they will travel in that will eventually better the quality of life for consumers. So what does this have to do with hiring the right people into your business?
A truly successful entrepreneur understands the importance of motivating others. People in managerial positions give their employees deadlines, expectations, revision requirements, etc. Entrepreneurs however, trust people to do the job themselves, but it’s more than that – entrepreneurs give their employees a reason to do a good job, they are part of the vision.
“A leader focuses on motivation and inspiration. He energizes people to overcome bureaucratic, resource and political barriers because they believe in an agenda and want to accomplish it,” Rossi says.
Hiring the right person
So to tie it all together, when you hire someone who you believe to be qualified for the position, you have to take it a step further. You have to invite your employees to contribute to the overall direction, ask their opinions, take their advice, and allow them to participate in the bigger picture. This could apply to anyone, whether they work in marketing, finance, sales, manufacturing – everyone should be passionate about the “vision” you have created.
By giving people an overall sense of purpose, they are more likely to excel at individual tasks. When someone feels like they are a part of something bigger than themselves, they will undoubtedly do everything in their power to succeed.
Be a leader, not a manager.
Entrepreneurship can be terrifying. Venturing off on your own can be a scary step and it’s important to be confident in what you’re doing. If you’re tired of working for someone else, the suffocating limits, and lack of moneymaking opportunities, you should seriously consider the world of entrepreneurship.
Rosalind Resnick, author of “The Vest Pocket Consultant’s Secrets of Small Business Success,” wrote a great article featured in the Small Business section of The Wall Street Journal. The article is truly inspirational and has hard facts about why entrepreneurship could be the best route for you.
Liberation at its finest
Entrepreneurship can be the key to liberating yourself from that dreaded cubicle. As a small business owner, you’re free to “unplug and work anywhere there’s WiFi reception,” Resnick says. You have the luxury of working where you please–which can increase your efficiency and ability to focus on the crucial tasks at hand.
Give yourself a raise
If you own your own business, you call the shots and you take on all the risk. There’s no limit to your salary and a raise can be dictated based on your own actions and the opportunities you create for yourself.
“While getting a business off the ground is never easy, every dollar that you put in and every hour that you work is an investment that returns profit back to you,” Resnick says.
If you still feel uneasy about the idea of taking on the world with your hands in your empty pockets, think of it this way: a “real” job may only last about four years, and you’re not getting paid enough. If you own your own business, you’re absolutely entitled to reap the benefits of your work. Answering to someone else can only stifle your true capabilities.
If you’re the kind of person that responds better to hard numbers rather than abstract ideals, here’s some information you might want to pay attention to. Recent changes in the tax laws make business expense deductions pretty sweet. “Under expanded bonus depreciation rules, qualified investments in fixed assets, purchased between Sept. 9, 2010, and Dec. 31, 2011, can be fully written off for federal tax purposes,” according to Michael J. Goldberg of New York’s Ganer, Grossbach & Ganer LP.
All in all, starting a business isn’t about the benefits, or the adventure, it’s about you. You can use your small business as a test to show your true potential. Take some risks and see what you can do.
Customer referrals can be one of the most powerful ways to build your company’s reputation. We all know how quickly one dissatisfied customer can contribute to a damaged reputation.
It is crucial to remember how much your brand name and credibility directly relates to your revenue flow. Companies who don’t have returning satisfied customers will suffer in comparison to companies who have a loyal customer base.
Here are a few ways to build and maintain your reputation in order to build a loyal customer base.
Never bad-mouth your competition
Of course it is beneficial to talk about your strong points with your clients, in your advertisements, or on your website, but always avoid degrading your competition. It can even be beneficial to you to compliment your competition. Say things like “they’re great companies, and I’m sure you will be happy with any of us, but I think you will be happiest with my company.”
If a client mentions a company you don’t necessarily respect, you can back out of bad-mouthing that company by saying something like “that company isn’t really a competitor of ours, but the others are pretty good competitors. I just think you would be happiest with our services.”
Be positive at all times
Even if you do lose a sale to a competitor, be able to own up to it and move on. It is understandable if losing a client to a different company angers you – but you need to be able to get over it and look towards the future. One poor reaction to the loss of a client can go a very long way. You should never take short cuts if you feel like you’re going to lose a client. It is very important to always be accommodating for difficult clients, regardless or not if you make the sale.
Do you feel like no matter what you do you can never measure up to par? It can be frustrating to feel like all the work you do ends up going unnoticed or written off. The first step to curing underperformance is admitting it. If your work simply doesn’t cut it, you need to take the necessary actions to change.
If you are a small business owner and you just can’t seem to see results from your efforts, or if you are an employee at a larger enterprise and you seem to be written off no matter what you do, there is an answer. Amy Gallo wrote a great blog post on Harvard Business Review about what to do if you are underperforming:
Ask for help
“If you’re screwing up, you should be open with your boss,” urges Jean-François Manzoni, Professor of Leadership and Organizational Development at IMD International and co-author of The Set-Up-to-Fail Syndrome: How Good Managers Cause Great People to Fail. Many bosses respond better to “I need help” than they do the various rationalizations and explanations that often accompany poor performance. Be concrete about what you ask for. “Others will be more open to helping you if you show them how they can help, and you show them you are taking responsibility for what’s in your control,” says Manzoni.
Involving others — peers, mentors, even direct reports — can also be helpful. Ask for feedback about how you are performing and advice on how you can improve. These discussions serve two purposes. One, they help you gain useful insight into your own behavior. Two, they also let people know you are working on the issue. If they know that, they are more likely to give you the benefit of the doubt in assessing your future performance.
Decide what to focus on
J. Richard Hackman, the Edgar Pierce Professor of Social and Organizational Psychology at Harvard University and author of Leading Teams: Setting the Stage for Great Performances, recommends using a three-part checklist to assess the underlying causes:
- Effort. Am I putting enough time and energy into the work?
- Strategy. Am I working smartly rather than relying on routine?
- Talent. Do I have the skills, knowledge, and capabilities to do my job well?
“Just asking one’s self those three simple questions often will surface some concrete things one can do to improve,” says Hackman. Use the answers to decide where to focus your efforts.
Principles to Remember
- Recognize what is in your control to change and what isn’t
- Sincerely ask for advice and feedback
- Include others in your improvement efforts so they can see and appreciate your progress
- Be defensive about your underperformance and try to blame it on outside events or other people
- Assume that just because you are improving, others recognize it
- Stay at a job where you’ve become permanently labeled an underperformer
If you are a small business owner and you have employees that are underperforming, it is important to be understanding and offer help when you can. If you are underperforming, follow the above principles and restore your reputation. It is important to assert the effort it takes to improve for your company and for yourself.
As a smaller business owner, you have a clear understanding of how difficult it is to find effective employees. As cautious as you try to be, you always end up with at least one employee that isn’t motivated, doesn’t work to full capacity, or simply doesn’t get it.
In addition, it costs you personally to commit to an employee’s salary and benefits. It’s frankly a waste of money to invest in an employee that doesn’t work to full capacity and it sends a poor message to your customers. The first problems to address are who to hire, when and where to find suitable candidates.
Hiring the right person
The most important aspect of hiring the right person depends on your product. You need a staff that can get the product or service to the market. Generally, high-level executives (like a vice president of marketing or sales) aren’t hired until the company has seen growth.
Also, only hire someone if you absolutely need the help. If you can outsource that position to a free-lancer for example, it would be extremely beneficial to you. If you can intelligently delegate work to the right people, you’re already on your way to having an efficient staff.
Focus on hiring flexible candidates that can function and thrive in a small environment. The best candidate only needs a few instructions and can apply their skills to various areas. Small businesses need these kinds of candidates because there aren’t necessarily set positions and everyone needs to take on a certain amount of work in different areas.
According to an article in the Wall Street Journal guide to small business:
“An entrepreneur’s best bet for finding employees usually is networking. Ask for referrals from your friends, industry colleagues and advisers, such as your accountant, attorney, board members and organization members. If one of your advisers or colleagues recommends somebody, they’ve done some of your employee screening work already. Start-ups typically find their first 10 or 15 employees this way.”
Use any resources you can to find the right candidates. Having employees and staff members that add value to your business is crucial for you success as a business owner
As a small business owner, it is important to know everything you can about your business and your industry. So how do you stay informed and up to date about your business in order for it to thrive? You must learn new information constantly in order to keep up with developments in your field.
An article on SBA.gov discusses the importance of staying informed. The following is a list of 10 ways to stay informed so you can learn to expand your network of information resources in order to help your small business succeed.
Ten Ways to Stay Informed
- Subscribe to industry or trade publications that focus on your business or the business of your clients and customers.
- Join a professional association, chamber of commerce, or network with other entrepreneurs in similar industries.
- Look for information on the Internet. Watch for opportunities to interact with business or industry experts in chat room interviews. Put the interviews on your appointment calendar and be sure to show up.
- Subscribe to Internet newsgroups that focus on your industry.
- Read newspapers – local and national – to track business trends.
- Talk to your customers and clients. What issues are troubling them? What is their mission? What factors do they think will affect their business in the future? Ask yourself, “How might this affect my business?”
- Invest in training: attend a conference or seminar on a subject that affects your business. Once there, don’t be a wallflower. Strike up conversations with other participants. If a session is particularly helpful, go up to the speaker to thank him/her or add a comment of your own. Ask for his/her business card. If he/she agrees, you’ll have a resource who’s just a phone call away when you need a fast reality check. Most people are flattered to be consulted – but remember, their time is valuable, so don’t waste it. Ideally, information exchange should be a two-way street. Do you have information that might benefit your source? Share it with him/her.
- Visit or call your city library or check out the library at a nearby college. Find out what resources – periodicals, newspapers, reference materials – they offer for someone interested in a business like yours.
- Recognize that at some point you may not be able to know everything about your business. Learn to use consultants or hire employees who can compensate for the gaps in your knowledge.
- Cultivate your curiosity. Don’t be afraid to try new things. The most important skill you can develop is not the ability to remember information, but the ability to seek out and find the information you need, when you need it and then use it for the benefit of your business.