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Hire Up; Hire Employees for the Business You Will Become

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Hiring employees for a small business owner is tricky business. Chances are, the existing staff (that includes you!) are performing tasks beyond the typical job description and encompassing several disciplines. For example, you may have an assistant who takes care of administration, accounting, customer service and maybe even some marketing.

As you plan your next hire, if you’re like most business owners, you’re just looking for some relief! An extra set of hands will provide some relief. Trust me, though; it will be short lived.

To begin – stop and think about where you want your business to be in 6 months or a year down the road.

  • What will that business look like?
  • What expertise will you need to run that business well?
  • What experience will help you get there more quickly?

That’s the person you need to hire, not just an extra set of hands for what you need today.

Hire up. Hire the expertise you will need in 6 to 12 months; hire someone who is an expert in something you are not. Hire someone who can teach you and help your business grow. Hire someone you will grow into, not someone you will quickly outgrow.

It can be an ego buster to have an employee who knows more about part of your business than you do but honestly, if ego is an issue you need to get over that fast! To grow your business rapidly to a level of excellence your ego needs to take a seat and let experienced, educated staff takes its place.

When you’re talking to potential employees, look for those that make you wonder “am I ready for this?” or “I don’t think I need this level for awhile”. If they talk about a system or business practice and you don’t even know what they’re talking about, give them a second look! Your business growth is waiting. Hire the expert. Hire up.

 – Helen Dutton, Business Coach

Beginning, Middle and End

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With all that you have on your plate as a business owner, it’s easy to get lost among the open projects. The projects are often large with multiple elements, many requiring input or participation from others.

What’s more, most small business owners wear several hats and chances are, you’re not an expert in all of the areas. It’s easy to get bogged down in a project when we don’t know what the next step is or how to complete it. And as if that wasn’t enough, many of us like the flexibility of jumping from one project or task to another. What do we do when we get stuck or uncomfortable? Move on to another project! There’s always something that can use our attention.

The problem arises when we continually start projects but struggle to complete them.

I’ll never forget what a former client’s dad told him as a kid: “You’re a first rate starter, second class finisher.” Ouch. The truth is that most small business owners have a tad bit of ADD juice in our veins and starting is fun (I speak from experience!).

When I find myself getting bogged down with a project, I stop and remind myself that there is a Beginning, a Middle, and an End to each task and we need to move through each stage. Just yesterday I ran into this; recognizing that I was at the beginning of my project let me know it was okay to not be done. Once I acknowledged what stage I was at, I made rapid progress and am now at the middle of the project. By simply acknowledging where I was, the project moved forward more quickly than it had in two weeks.

Stuck on a task that’s not budging? Determine if you’re at the Beginning, Middle or End and you’ll reach your destination before you know it.

 – Helen Dutton, Business Coach

Set The Table

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Company’s coming! It’s time to set the table.

Of course I don’t literally mean that people are coming to break bread, but if you have a compelling offer and you’ve done your marketing well, you ought to be expecting company – a stream of new prospects leading to customers and clients. If you were expecting company for dinner, you would plan your menu and get out the napkins and goblets (or picnic table and skewers!). To set your business table for company, you need systems and structure. Too often I’ve seen business owners create demand and then not be able to service that demand well. What do the customers do then? They go someplace else where they are treated like honored guests.

To set your business table, put yourself in your customers’ shoes. What do you want to see? What do you want to hear from the owner or staff? A great dinner host invites guests to talk about themselves; your business guests want that same experience. Pay close attention to how you interact with customers; if you’re telling them a story about you or your family, stop. Let them talk about what’s important to them. What experience do your customers want to walk away with? Build a system to deliver that unique experience every time. If you can’t write the system down, then it’s not a system yet. Your structure needs to be so well laid out that it’s transparent to the customer. Reflect and recall a business experience so enjoyable that you can’t remember the “how”; create that same feeling for your customers.

When your business table is set and you’ve created a path to your door, somehow the perfect customers always appear. Be ready – it’s time for dinner.

 – Helen Dutton, Business Coach

Can You Start This Afternoon?

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I don’t have a lot of rules, but I do have a few when it comes to business. Perhaps I have just a few because when I say “rules”, I mean RULES – something to be followed 100% of the time. Not 90%, not something that’s close to the rule.

When hiring any employee, I have a rule that I (or my clients) must be so excited for that person to join that it begs the question, “Can you start this afternoon?”

Now I almost always sleep on a hiring decision (that’s almost a rule!), but that doesn’t change my excitement, my knowing-ness that they are the perfect fit. Is your mind racing with ideas of how they can add significant value to your organization? If the potential hire causes you to see goals achieved, a company with well-run systems, and an easier future for yourself, then chances are you need to be putting together an offer.

More than at any other business life cycle stage, employees of a small business represent your growing brand as well as you personally. They need to exude the professionalism, passion, values and technical skill that your customers have grown to expect from you. If your business goals include hiring more staff, consider the earliest employees the DNA of your growing organism. Those first few hires form the culture, demonstrate to future hires your expectation level, and drive either continuing business growth and brand recognition or decline.

The next time you are in the market for an employee, make sure they cause you to say (to yourself), “Can you start this afternoon?” Never, ever settle for less.

Helen Dutton, Business Coach

Step 20 or Step 1-19

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Over the years, I have asked just about every client “Are you a Step 20 Person or a Step 1-19 Person?” You see, we each have a preferred view; looking out and defining what step 20 is first, easily understanding what you will accomplish when you reach step 20. Other people are skilled at defining their next step (and the step after that and the step after that) but the longer view is fuzzy. There are more eloquent ways of defining each view, but I think asking yourself, “Do I easily understand what my next steps are?” is a pretty simple way to quickly understand your point of view.

Figuring out whether you are a Step 20 Person or a Step 1-19 Person is fun, but it becomes critical to understand when you hire staff. Fill a room with people who primarily see the long range, and I see a crew with great ideas and not a lot of follow through. Alternatively, put a group of Step 1-19 People together and they will be great at taking small steps, but those steps may not be in the same direction or even to a place you want to go! Details will be defined before they’ve created their vision. Imagine painting a picture; you select your colors without knowing what the final picture will be – do you need Caribbean blues or Southwestern oranges? Big difference in the final product.

When it’s time for you to hire staff, understand first your point of view. Consider taking a behavior profile, such as the DISC profile or the Kolbe A. Index. Each will tell you what drives your behavior, your typical mode of action, and your strengths. Ask prospective staff to do the same and hire only those who complement you. A room full of visionaries or a room full of detail-oriented folks won’t give you a business full of results; make sure you have both in the room.

 – Helen Dutton, Business Coach

Helen Dutton, A Vision of Your Own, has provided business and personal coaching for small business owners since 2000, providing online and face to face coaching for entrepreneurs, small business owners, start-up businesses as well as established businesses across the country. Clients come from New Hampshire, her home state, but she has also acted as a mentor to business owners in Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, the Denver area, and closer to home in the Boston area. Helen helps her clients develop their small business ideas, create marketing plans, improve operation efficiency, build customer service systems, build management and leadership skills, and develop confidence as a business owner. Helen provides business tips and resources through her blog and her newsletter, where you can also find business templates to help your business prosper.