The Human Factor in Small Business

One of first steps in scaling a business is putting more people on the job. Whether it’s contractors, freelancers or permanent staff, the move to adding human resource to a business is a defining milestone. Here are six things to consider when taking the next step.

Do you recruit or hire?

The first question to ask yourself is whether you need to recruit a new member of staff or whether your needs can be met by outsourcing or hiring a freelancer. In today’s business marketplace there are a multitude of disciplines available to hire: including accounting; manufacturing; website design; marketing and more. Outsourcing can be a smarter, more flexible and cost-effective solution if your need is either not ongoing or can be structured to specific time or outputs.

Know the law

Whether you decide to recruit a permanent staff member or hire a consultant, you need to make sure you have a working knowledge of the law. Take some time to learn about key areas such as wages, employee rights, leave, tax etc. This will provide a valuable background to your role as an employer, and potentially save you from headaches down the track.

Boil it down

What position to fill first will differ from company to company but don’t go recruitment mad. Condense your staffing plan into a core team who will focus on getting your product/service to market. Avoid high level positions and focus on roles that will work cross-functionally to get the job done. In small businesses there are often no set jobs and everyone has to do a bit of everything.

Take time to define the role

Time taken upfront to define a role carefully will both ensure you get what you want, and show the candidate that you have placed importance on their future position in the company. In your role description you should define day-to-day tasks, salary and benefits. Remember to explain how the role fits in with company goals and specify necessary skills.

Practice smart recruitment

Your best bet for effective recruitment is your own network and that of your existing employees, associates and advisers. This short cuts much of the screening and gives you more chance to find a candidate who will fit well within your company.

If you do have to recruit outside your sphere of influence, remember that recruitment can be a very time consuming process. Narrow your recruitment to candidates with the right skills by advertising your role in niche locations such as blogs, industry websites and magazines. Consider whether the cost of a recruitment agent is a worthwhile investment: balance it against the time you will save when they place the ad and screen your candidates for you.

Be picky

Choose your candidate carefully and make sure you screen them and introduce them to your business at interview so there are no surprises for either of you. Your team is small so one person has a huge impact on the success of your business and the culture you develop. Focus on finding someone who will work well with you and any other employees, and add value across all areas.

Time taken up front to explore exactly what you want from recruitment will be time well invested in the growth of your business. Being part of a small business is an exciting opportunity for an employee, so don’t forget to sell the positives. Where else can you be part of something from small beginnings to beyond? Small business roles combine breadth and exposure to the top of the business with opportunities that don’t.


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