Young lady thinking about design with coloured sticky notes on an outside window

Hiring staff and nurturing talent


The way I approach it is, can we enjoy a chat in a coffee shop?

If we can chat openly as friends in a coffee shop, then I believe we can find areas in the business which will benefit both the business and you.

A small business owner controls many departments from accounts, Human resources and IT. Every decision or potential wrong turn can have detrimental effects. Some of which, might be too large to come back from. If I feel the applicant understands this, cares and is open to learn, grow and offer support to the team. They will succeed. Therefore, so will I.

Then understand the balance between micro managing and allowing talent to experiment, fail, learn and improve –before long, you will identify true gems. Recruit without extensive questions, exams or scrutiny and If they don't fit with your principals, start to micro manage. They will either be a huge benefit to those small tasks or simply leave.

Those who grow with you, learn new skills and go above and beyond your requests to benefit the business are the gems. Keep them, but don’t grip too tight either. Believe in yourself and your principals which got them here in the first place and allow both of you to keep growing.


Corporate difference

Finding talent under the umbrella of a small business or start-up is completely different to hiring staff in a corporate environment.

Picture yourself in a large department filled with people with talent and ambition mixed with others who don't know much or simply don’t care. If you're hoping to scale your small business, there is simply no room for hiders.

I'm in an enviable position of having experienced both. The budget afforded in a corporate meant we went out and scouted talent on the back of the company salary and benefits. Projects came and went, and we grew to understand which management style suited us best and what we disliked. In some jobs, I have fond memories of the team, while in other jobs I barely remember being there.

It comes down to relationships and one sentence that struck me from a previous manager was this. "You get a lot more done with a small talented team"


Growing business

As the business grows and departments expand, things get complicated and hiding places start to appear. Jeff Bezos, an incredible person, entrepreneur and businessman shook up the traditional working environment. He splits his company into smaller start-up companies with their own budgets, targets and communications between them is formal as though it was external. He famously said that a project team should be able to share 2 large pizzas for lunch. I have not worked for Amazon but visited several times in the capacity of a business visit. Their office environment in London was calm, interesting and I believe productive. Something I am striving for.


I wanted to be happy in my job

With corporate experience behind me and the security of a well-paid job, I just wasn't as happy as I felt I should be any more. Not fulfilled. I did not want to reach the heights of the senior directors. The red tape, politics and constant walls needed to break down just to get the simplest thing done. Don't get me wrong, many senior directors were exceptional and very happy, but others weren’t. I knew what I wanted and I got out to start my own business from home, learn a lot, succeed or fail.


I'm proud to say the business has been successfully running for over 5 years now

Privileged to still be going. Financially stable, wages paid, stock growing and happy. A bad move can be lights out, but that’s the thrust and challenge of starting something from new. Having to run all departments of the business from IT to accounts and human resources, we work 24/7. But someone also once said, when you love your work, you stop working. I agree. I'm sitting in a coffee shop, with a flat white writing this article.


Did I find talent? Yes of course.

Everyone has something to offer in something, and I have approached the challenge of building a team this way. Find their strengths, keep a close eye on whether they want to learn, and let it flow.

A visit to a major supplier of ours also taught me something. A multi-million pound company CEO made the effort to come over to me, ask how the business was going and told me he was always learning. Always learning was his point. He was 89 years old and still at the top.

Keep learning. Give your staff the chance to do the same but don't forget the goals. Set them targets, discipline them for being late (either project or shift) and keep to your principals. Good luck in your recruitment.

Finish off with a saying I heard and like. "You don't build a business, you build a team, and the team builds a business"
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