If you’ve just started a new business, you probably have a lot on your plate. Besides the obligatory 3 am panic attacks, of course, you’ve got to spend a good chunk of each week staring blankly at your business bank statements while speed-dialing vendors and suppliers.
There are hundreds of decisions to second-guess, and lots of potential failure to contemplate. And you’ve still got to carve out opportunities for weepy, incoherent sessions with your business bestie!
With so many things on your to-do list, it would be a shame to waste time worrying about “little” things, like how in the world you’re supposed to go about hiring your first employee.
Save your worry for other matters. Here are 3 tips that should help you avoid the most common hiring mistakes new business owners make.
1. Don’t be a people pleaser (please?)
Mistake #1. How many people can I bend over backwards to please today?
Some entrepreneurs are loud and proud go-getters who care for the opinion of no man, but not everyone can be that
insufferable self-assured all the time, especially when they’re just starting out.
If you are someone who is almost entirely motivated by the approval of others, know that you are not alone. There are lots of people-pleasers out there, even in the business world, people who don’t feel good about themselves unless everybody, and I mean everybody, is happy with them.
When Earth is inevitably conquered by lobster-like alien overlords, people-pleasers may spare a regret or two for the fate of humanity, but their overweening thoughts will be I hope they like us…
Craving the approval of other people is an often harmless quirk, but it can be a deadly flaw in a new business owner. On the whole, no one is going to care about the health and success of your business more than you do.
If you hire someone simply because you don’t want to disappoint them, or because you’re worried they might be mad at you otherwise, you’re going to regret it.
The same thing goes for firing people. Keeping someone on because you can’t bear to hurt them may be the easy thing to do, but it’s not the right thing to do, and it’s not even the kind thing to do, in most cases.
Don’t get me wrong; you want to be the kind of person that truly cares about the well-being of your employees. But what’s good for the business must come first, or you won’t end up with any employees at all. Everybody loses when people-pleasing becomes your focus.
2. Listen to your gut (especially during interviews)
Mistake #2. Well … that red flag can’t be all that bad.
Fairly obvious advice, right? But you’d be surprised how often people ignore their instincts. You may not think it’s quite fair to reject a perfectly qualified applicant just because something seemed a little off about their interview. But nine times out of ten, that feeling is spot on.
New business owners often make the mistake of hiring in haste, either because they’re afraid they won’t find someone else, or because they desperately need the help right away. Resist that urge.
It may be difficult or inconvenient to wait for a better applicant, but your other options are to live with someone you dislike and/or don’t trust, or to terminate a bad hire down the road. Let me tell you from experience, working day in and day out with a dud employee is the worst. The worst.
Firing people is no picnic either. You actually need sufficient grounds to terminate someone (if you don’t want to be sued). And “this person is the human equivalent of nails on a chalkboard to me” is not a legitimate reason to start handing out pink slips.
Save yourself some paperwork, and get it right the first time.
Bear in mind that there are always going to be people who don’t interview well – nervous types who sweat or forget basic words. With experience, you can learn to discern the difference between a candidate who’s dealing with normal anxiety and a candidate who just feels off, for whatever reason.
When in doubt, do a second interview. But never make a hire if you don’t feel good about it.
3. Don’t let your pride get in the way
Mistake #3. No one can do this like I do it.
The majority of entrepreneurs are forced to fill every role in their fledgling company, at least initially. But at some point it becomes necessary to bring on extra hands. When you’re accustomed to doing every job yourself, from paying the bills to making the coffee, it can be agonizing to give up control.
Your business is your baby; you’ve poured hours of backbreaking labor into keeping it alive. And now you’re supposed to just dump it, willy-nilly, into the sweaty paws of some employee?
Well, yes! That’s the whole point, right?
If you need to hire people, presumably your business has become too large for one person to handle. That’s good, by the way. That’s what supposed to happen.
Maintaining a death grip on every aspect of daily operations doesn’t make you a strong leader; it makes you a dolt. Refusing to delegate is stupid.
A wise boss knows how to take full advantage of the skills and knowledge of her employees. You can’t be the best at everything, so learn to delegate jobs to people who can do them better than you can.
The world will go on revolving even if you don’t personally stuff all those envelopes. Humankind won’t suffer if someone else balances the books. You are vitally important to the success of your business, but you’re not God.
Relax a little bit. Relinquishing control will hurt like hell at first, but my advice to you is to suck it up, make like a Disney Snow Queen, and let it go.
Go forth and prosper
Don’t allow simple hiring mistakes to get the best of you. You don’t have to be just another startup statistic. Make good choices now, and you’ll save yourself trouble (and paperwork) later. Plus, you won’t have to work with someone you hate.
Good luck, and happy hiring.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Julie Titterington is a freelance writer and the managing editor of Merchant Maverick, an SMB software and services review site. She specializes in POS and project management, but her expertise extends to most areas of small business technology. Julie lives in Portland, OR and spends most of her non-work hours reading British mystery novels, watching reruns of MST3K, and chasing her two small children in circles. You can follow her on LinkedIn. Connect with @merchantmav on Twitter.
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