One of the big problems of working for yourself and running your own business is that you will often believe that you are the one to do anything and everything in your business. If you are still in the first few months of start-up, there is no doubt that you are doing almost everything yourself. From answering your emails and sending out letters and brochures, through to writing your blog posts and maybe even creating your own website, you will have started your business journey being a one-person show.
As you grow your business and start to take on more clients and sell to more customers, delegating often isn’t a natural talent. Some of you are self-confessed control freaks and like to do everything yourself because you want it done ‘right’.
Others of you genuinely don’t know how to hire or how to find the right person, so it always feels easier to keep doing it all yourself until you find yourself so busy that you are too busy to find the time to recruit.
The question I am asked again and again is ‘When is the right time to hire someone?’ My answer is always the same; ‘Three months before you need them.’
There’s a common misconception about hiring people in your business that the day someone starts, is the day you suddenly get more time. But the truth is that if you hire someone for ten hours a week, you don’t suddenly get those ten hours back in your week.
What actually happens is that your workload can often double for a week or two (and sometimes longer depending on who it is you are hiring and what job they are doing) whilst you spend time explaining what you need doing and training them to understand your business systems. Even with technical contractors or marketing assistants who should, in theory, be bringing a level of expertise into the role, time is still needed to get them up to speed and understand your business and the customers you serve. For longer-term hires, expect three months before you fully see the return on investment from their contribution to your business.
But don’t let this put you off. If you genuinely want to grow your business and play a bigger game, then your People Growth Pillar is instrumental to your success.
Who are your dream team?
Your dream team are the people you need to help you achieve your Big Vision. They are the people you hire, as well as your strategic partnerships, your suppliers, business buddies and supporters. You may even find that you need to include people who can support you in your home and personal life, particularly if you are a single parent. I’ve often seen my clients need to include a housekeeper to enable them to manage their home, as well as their business.
Your business will have specific needs, but there are three core areas where I believe you need to focus on. As I take you through each one, use the image in Figure 2 to write down the names or profile of the person you feel you need in each of the hands. There are nine hands there; you may need more hands, but you certainly won’t need less so it’s important to recognise the level of support you will need for your future growth. If you want to download this worksheet, you can find a copy in the True Profit Business Workbook that accompanies my book, True Profit Business. Here’s the link to access it.
PA and administrative support
This is usually the first area in which you may wish to hire in your business and they generally fall into these three categories.
- Diary and email management: not only does a personal assistant help save you time in doing your admin, but their presence also helps with your positioning. For example, if you are a consultant working with larger organisations, having someone else confirm your meetings, agendas and send follow-up paperwork can help with your professional image. In addition, having someone act as your gatekeeper helps you avoid unnecessary sales calls.
- Invoicing and financing: bookkeeping, VAT returns and invoicing are all administrative tasks that you, as the business owner, should not be doing as your business grows.
- Client management: if you run group programmes or run events, having someone take control of the day-to-day communication can free up your time and mental energy hugely. Th ere’s always going to be someone else who is far better at managing email follow-ups and producing client reports than you will ever be.
Marketing and sales support
If the first person you hire is a personal assistant, don’t make the mistake of assuming that whoever you took on can simply take on more tasks in other areas of your business. The skillset needed to run marketing and sales support for you will be different from that of someone you’ve hired to proofread your proposals, organise your diary and hire meeting rooms.
Plus, you don’t really want to rely too heavily on one person to do everything for you. You run the risk of abdicating responsibility, rather than delegating, and if the relationship goes sour or they move on to another opportunity, you’re left with a huge gap to fill.
It may be that you need more than one person in this category, too. Again, you can’t assume because someone is great at researching and writing blogs that they will be good at managing your social media sites. Be very clear on what skills you need to bring into your business, as well as experience in the digital tools you use.
- Creating consistent content: researching and writing blogs, as well as writing and sending out email marketing broadcasts.
- Social media management: scheduling posts, images and blog posts, as well as potentially managing a busy Facebook group. This role is different from hiring an ad specialist. If you plan to run advertising campaigns, do hire at the right level because of the skills and expertise needed to run high-quality campaigns are often far more then a social media admin manager can offer you.
- Pre-prospect phone calls: if you hate the thought of cold or warm calling, then hiring someone in this field can have a huge impact on your results. Several members of my Momentum business growth community have done this and they are now regularly securing meetings with organisations interested in what it is they offer. If you work with individuals, then a sales administrator may be able to conduct the initial enquiry call and make sure they are a suitable prospect before you speak with them.
These people are the members of your dream team who have the potential of impacting your growth potential through partnership opportunities.
- Referral partners and affiliates: other people selling what you offer to their own lists can open up huge opportunities for you. Depending on your positioning, you may have to think carefully who you want to be associated with and what the quality of their database and reach is. It’s not necessarily about the numbers. I would recommend you focus on how engaged and connected they are to their own customer base because this usually gets you better results. You may set up a straightforward affiliate commission for each sale or there may be other ways of mutually benefiting from your relationship. It’s important to consider it’s not always about the money, and what you are able to contribute could actually be more highly valued.
- Community leaders and event hosts: what events or conferences are you able to speak or exhibit at? Leaders of online communities or member forums are often looking for experts to contribute content. Perhaps there are professional associations or trade bodies who would love to partner with you?
- Distribution channels: more relevant for those of you with physical products but it’s worth considering if this is a potential in your marketplace. Perhaps one of your offers could be bundled up and included in another business’s offer, which would allow you access to their marketing channels and database.
Your nine hands
Who have you written in each of the hands?
If you’ve still got spaces, keep asking yourself ‘who else?’ until you find your full dream team. It may be that you need to do some work on your Big Vision, an exercise that you can find in Chapter 3 of my book, True Profit Business. This will help you discover potential gaps and ensure you have the right people to help you with your long-term vision. These people don’t necessarily need to be known to you right now, so if you don’t have a name, use a job title or short phrase to help you focus on recruiting or finding them over the coming weeks and months. Once you’ve completed this exercise, you can then take these thoughts and ideas into your 90-day planning process and decide on what steps you need to take to recruit or find one or more of these people over the coming months.
I’d love to know how this article lands with you and how it has opened you up to the prospect of who to hire over the coming year. If you want to find out more about how we can help you with your business growth plans, then book a call with us. Click here to find out more.
Thank you for reading. Until next time, do less, be more, play bigger.
About the author
Karen Skidmore is a business mentor with 25+ years of experience, specialising in True Profit™; the design & growth of purposeful, profitable businesses. Business Books Awards finalist 2020 & podcaster, Karen uniquely combines the being-ness and doing-ness of business to help scale up, without burning out.
The first step in discovering the True Profit in your business is to take the True Profit Test.