In this week’s podcast, my guest is from London and has a lot to teach about running a business. Mike Southon is a serial entrepreneur, best-selling business author, and one of the world’s top business keynote speakers on entrepreneurship, intrapreneurship, and sales.
He wrote a book, The Beermat Entrepreneur, that I found very refreshing and full of tactical advice for entrepreneurs at any stage of growing a business. I found his description and portrayal of an entrepreneur to be spot-on and his advice about growing a team to be very helpful. I wish I had this particular resource 20 years ago, as I have made many mistakes growing and building my company especially when it came to hiring the right people. Embarrassingly, I have made more mistakes in this department than I would like to publicly admit. From hiring family and friends to hiring people that I liked instead of for experience and skill, I found myself licking my wounds from disastrous hiring mistakes often.
Mike has profound things to say when it comes to making the decision to grow your business beyond 25 people. This is when hiring the right people becomes paramount.
For scrappy entrepreneurs, the last thing you may be thinking about is what the hell happens when I get to the point of growing the business beyond 25 team members. It is truly a pivotal point in the business and will become a time of true reflection for you. You got into the business because you had a passion for it, but now, you are noticing big changes. More people mean more salaries, more overhead costs more expense accounts. It also comes with bigger HR and operational issues. This is the point when things become not so fun. Which is why hiring at this stage needs to be deliberate.
To begin with, when your business grows beyond the first 25 employees, a whole new crop of employees comes aboard that were not part of the “dream team” or the initial founding group. This tends to play out with the new employees not possessing the same spark, loyalty and commitment as the founding team. It is hard to accept that new employees may not have the same drive and commitment of the founders and the founders’ dream team.
Mike’s advice here is to start hiring “grown-ups.” By this, he means industry-specialist managers who are experienced in running departments, keeping projects on budget and on time and above all managing people. I agree but would add that you want to seek out mature, experienced professionals who have a growth mindset and who care about driving the business forward and quite frankly doing a good job that produces results.
My specific advice here is to take some time to document a clear, concise job description that clearly outlines what is expected for any new role. You will want to be explicitly clear on skills and experience needed, and desired outcomes. Taking the time to document this is not just for the applicant to understand the job, but also for YOU to get clear as to what role you are trying to fill and what job duties need to be done and what skills are needed to get the job done right without you telling the applicant what to do. I have made so many hiring mistakes by filling roles with people I liked, rather than people who had deep experience with the skills I needed to fill the role.
After you are clear with the role and the experience needed, post your recruitment ads and begin sifting through applicants. As soon as the resumes start coming in, immediately dismiss any resume that does not meet the criteria outlined in your job description. Do not get excited if there is a fancy company listed on a resume or a fancy university. Stick to what is important: the skills and experience for the position you want to hire!
To listen to Mike’s interview, click here.
To connect with Paula, email her.