Do you believe that you are the one to do anything and everything in your business?
In the first few months of start-up, there is no doubt that you do almost everything yourself. From answering your emails and sending out proposals 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 instinct for many people. Some are self-confessed control freaks and like to do everything yourself because you want it done ‘right’.
Others get trapped by being too busy to recruit; they simply don’t have the headspace to think about when and how to hire someone.
And others worry that their business isn’t making enough to hire someone.
The questions I am asked again and again is ‘When is the right time to hire someone?’ and ‘Who do I need to hire to help me grow?’
My answer is to the first one is always the same ….
‘Three months before you need them.’
There’s a common misconception about hiring people that the day someone starts is the day you suddenly get back more time. But the truth is that if you hire someone for ten hours a week, no matter what you hire them to do, you don’t suddenly get those ten hours back in to 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 it is you are asking them to do for your business) whilst you spend time explaining what needs 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. And this is why I always answer with the three months before you need someone.
But don’t let this put you off.
As the ‘two best times to plant a tree‘ proverb advises us; you either should have hired many months ago, or you can start to think about hiring TODAY.
So no matter where you are in your journey, let’s start this thinking process from a TODAY mentality. No matter what’s going on, or how busy you may feel you are and that you don’t have the time, if you genuinely want to grow your business and have a business that not only gives you more income, but is easier and simpler to run, hiring the right people is instrumental to your success.
And this starts with working out who your Dream Team needs to be.
Who do you need to hire to help you grow?
Your Dream Team are the people you need to help you achieve the vision you have for your business. They are the people you hire to ‘do stuff’, 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 can focus on to help with your thinking. As I take you through each one below, use the image above to write down the names or profile of the person you feel you need in each of the hands. (Click this link to download a printable PDF worksheet version).
There are nine hands there; you may need more hands, but it’s rare that you will need less as it’s important to recognise the level of support you will need for your future growth, no matter how small a business you want to run. Remember, this isn’t about listing all the people you need today; right now. But the people you need to support you in the future as your business grows.
PA and administrative support
This is usually the first area you may wish to hire in your business because freeing up your admin time is usually the quickest way to speed your progress so you can focus your time on business growth areas, such as business development. There are three key areas where someone can add value to you and your business.
1) Diary and email management: not only does a personal assistant help save you time in doing your admin, 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.
2) 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.
3) 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. There’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 skill set needed to run marketing and sales support for you will be different to 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. Let’s break down the key areas where you may need help as you begin to grow.
1) Creating consistent content: researching and writing blogs, as well as writing and sending out email marketing broadcasts.
2) 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, hire at the right level because the skills and expertise needed to run high quality campaigns is often far more than a social media admin manager can offer you.
3) 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 our Momentum business growth community have through this process 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 are the people in your Dream Team who have the potential of impacting your growth potential through partnership opportunities. There are three key areas to help your thinking.
1) 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.
2) 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?
3) 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.
Whether you decide you need to hire people to help you with delivery will be depend on the business model you want. A well-oiled exclusive boutique business with a waiting list doesn’t necessarily need you to have anyone else deliver your services; you can remain being the one expert in the business. But a scalable digital or training model, may need you to create a team of mini-mes; associates, licensed practitioners, franchisers or employed consultants.
1) Contractors: will there be key parts of your delivery that you can outsource to contractors? You may still want to be the one point of contact for your delivery, but this shouldn’t stop you from thinking about how you can outsource certain ‘behind the scene’ parts, such as research, design or statistical analysis, so your delivery time focuses on the strategic or client facing elements. Your clients don’t even need to know that you don’t ‘do’ everything; they just need to know you can deliver the results. Although don’t let your ‘I do everything’ personal service give the impression that you can’t deliver bigger projects if your client perception of you is that you are too small and ends up giving other pieces of work to other providers.
2) Associates: hiring key people to deliver either alongside you or instead of you, immediately gives you the opportunity to scale your capacity and market reach. To make this approach work, you will need to enjoy leading and managing teams, as well as think through how you are able to become an ’employer of choice’ so that you can attract and retain the best talents. The more you can treat your associates as partners, and not just as people you hire to do work you’re either too busy to do or don’t want to do, will ensure your associates will work WITH you, rather than just FOR you; they keep their diary free for your proposed work, turn down other associate work to make time for you, even when they may be being paid more and will be more loyal, especially when your clients may contact them directly.
3) Licensees or franchisees: Is there an opportunity to leverage your expertise by creating a ‘business in a box’ so that you not only train other professionals to do your work, but also offer renewable licences to access your materials and processes? This will mean a change in business model for you, and your revenue streams then come from selling not just the license or franchise, but also community and CPD membership opportunities.
Which ever path you take, it will be important to consider your legals – contracts will need to be signed to protect both you and your clients, as well as your team member – and employment status – whether you decide to hire them as ad hoc or retained contractors/associates or put them on payroll. Please note the statutory requirements in your country and know what you can and can’t do, but also don’t be afraid of potential red tape; get professional advice and you’ll find which ever path you take far simpler than you may think.
Supporters, mentors, cheerleaders & accountability partners
As well as people who you hire, you will need people around you who support you either as business buddies or paid mentors and advisors.
1) Business coach or mentor: Now you will probably guess that I will, of course, recommend you hire some kind business coach or mentor. Having someone who can show you the easier paths to growth, rather than you trying to figure it out on your own (or even worse, via Google!) will always help your journey forward. But you need to think about kind of coach or mentor you need.
At some points of your business, you may need specific marketing advice. At others, it’s a business coach with commerciality and an eye for your profitability (that’s me, by the way!), or even leadership mentoring or personal coaching.
2) Business buddies: Your friends and family may not always be able to give you the support that you need. If they don’t run their own business, they may not understand what it takes to do what you do. So finding like minded business buddies who you can confide in, talk to and support each other is important for your mental health and wellbeing, as well as creating the opportunities to bounce ideas around.
Do review who you have in this category of your Dream Team from year to year. Often, you will find you out grow your network and you end up supporting others more than they end up supporting you. So do go ‘up a league’ as your grow to ensure you are stretching yourself in to the vision you have, rather than staying comfortable.
Support for home, family & life
Finally, what support do you feel you need for your life? If you have a family, perhaps you need extra child care help after school or during the holidays. Perhaps you have a relative you are caring for that you need to ask for help, either from another family member or paid support. Maybe you’ve been putting off getting a cleaner, or housekeeper or someone to do your ironing.
Women especially are very good at doing ‘it all’ at home, as well as in business. And if you want to thrive within your business, you have to make sure you are putting in the support you need in your life, as well. So, who could be in your Dream Team to support you here.
Your Dream Team
Who have you written in each of the hands?
If you’ve still got spaces, keep asking yourself ‘who else?’ until you complete your full dream team. You may want to revisit your business vision and give yourself the space to help you see the 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 specific name, use a job title or short phrase to help you focus on recruiting or finding them over the coming weeks and months. This is really important because it helps stop your brain telling you ‘don’t know anyone’. You want to open yourself up for the opportunities over the coming months and you don’t need to know exactly who everyone is in order to do this thinking.
Once you’ve completed this process of working out your Dream Team, this is when you take your ideas and thoughts into your next business planning to decide on what steps you need to take to recruit or find one or more of these people over the coming months.
If you need help with any part of this process, then reach out to me for help. I offer an initial call if you want to speak directly with me about this – click here to book a time.
Until next time, do less, be more, play bigger.
About the author
Karen Skidmore is a business mentor & coach, specialising in growth strategies for consultants, service professionals & training providers, Business Books Awards finalist 2020, Menopause Champion & Ambassador for The Hunger Project.
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