In this episode of the Sweaty Startup, I sat down with Katie from Jobber to talk about how I pick the right people for my business and building structure and system. I’m sharing how I operate my business. An exciting episode for business owners!
Succeeding with Average Talent
Every business has either one of two problems: a customer problem or an employee problem. For small businesses, for sweaty startups, very rarely is it a customer problem; the pain point for most of these businesses is that they can’t find people, train them fast enough, and retain them enough to meet demand.
Most business owners have the wrong mindset, and they try to find and hire amazing people, expecting a unicorn of an employee to walk through their door. Rather than spinning your wheels trying to hire fantastic people, you’ll have an easier time if you build a company that can thrive with average people; if average people can come in and deliver great service to your customers, your business instantly becomes much more scalable.
The first step of this is to create a structured environment for your employees. Managers and entrepreneurs often thrive in chaotic, unpredictable environments, employees do not. Employees want the tools to succeed and be told exactly why they can do to make their boss and customer happy. A structured environment will also make it much easier to replace employees who leave, rather than finding it difficult to fill in for the one employee who was thriving when there was no structure.
Always Be Hiring
It’s expected that businesses spend money to market to customers, but in today’s environment you need to market to employees as well. If other companies can succeed in a tight labor market, so can yours, but you need to put in the work to attract talent.
The best employees usually aren’t looking for a job, most of them already have a job, but you can set aside time to do things that don’t scale to find reliable help. I used to make fliers showing that we’re hiring, sharing the minimum pay, and other important details for jobs, then go to businesses like Walmart, Starbucks, Panera, or Target and hand them out to the employees that struck me as driven and energetic. I wouldn’t directly recruit them, I’d hand them the flyer and ask if they knew anybody who was looking for a new job. This was a great and cheap way to get qualified employees interested.
For entry-level employees, it’s important that you hire fast and fire fast. You’ll learn more about their capabilities in their first week on the job than you could in the hiring process, and if they’re being trained properly then there’s only so much they can do to mess up.
You often need to hunt for talent in higher-level employees. I always look for salesmanship and communication as my tops traits, if you communicate well you can succeed in almost any environment. Both sides need to be able to avoid overpromising; as a business owner you need to be upfront about the struggles and challenges with the company and role, and the employee needs to be able to tell customers when they aren’t able to do something that the customer wants. It’s very easy to nod along and make half promises to land sales, but that erodes trust over time.
Your Step One
The first employee can be a big step forward for small business owners, but step one before hiring should be to raise your prices. A lot of companies don’t charge enough to set their employees up for success and are then faced with high demand and low margins that will burn people out. Then you should hire once you can’t answer the phone and take on all interested clients on your own anymore. It can be really effective to hire ahead of revenue so that the new employee is fully onboarded when you truly need them, but that comes with its own risk and cost.
It’s okay to never hire, and some people forget that. With Jobber, one person, and a truck you can make a great salary for yourself and save on the stress that can come from scaling a business and dealing with hiring.
Three Key Takeaways
- Raise your prices before you hire, this will put you and your employees in a position to succeed
- Don’t rely on incredible talent, create an environment where average talent can thrive
- The best employees already have jobs, go out and find them
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