Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Hire staff or add a partner

This post is for all the mompreneurs who are expanding faster than they know what do! Nicole of Westcoast Baby writes: As our business has been rapidly expanding, we need to hire staff to help out. I was wondering if you brought on family or friends as employees and how you feel about this.

Hiring family or friends can be a double-edged sword. On the plus side, you know them. You know their strengths, have a clear understanding of their skill set, and enter with a level of trust established. But on the flip side, what if they perform poorly on the job? It can be more difficult to approach your sister or best friend than it is someone you don’t have a lengthy history with. And if things don’t go well this could damage your relationship long-term.

I can tell you that I have had a positive experience regarding the involvement of family at Robeez. In 1999, my brother joined the company as one of my business partners. Later, my husband joined Robeez as a sales rep.

When hiring your first employee(s), you need to consider the skill set you require. Right now, you are probably doing a little bit of everything from developing your website to packaging boxes. Do need to hire someone that packs and ships orders so you can focus on business planning? Or do you need some help with marketing? Perhaps a freelancer would be more appropriate than an employee. Take a look at your budget and your own strengths to determine what will work best.

Beyond the skills your new employee brings to the table, their personality will also have a impact on your company. The most important thing I can say about hiring employees: take the time to find the best fit. In a fast, growing entrepreneurial company, everyone needs to be a team player. Look for someone who isn’t afraid to jump into a wide variety of projects. Early on, I had an employee who was hired for marketing and customer service but if it was a busy day in packaging and we needed to get orders out, she was back there stuffing shoes and taping boxes.

From my experience, these are the key areas to focus on when hiring your first employees are communication and values. What values are important to them? They should be similar to your own. How do they treat coworkers? How do you expect them to treat customers? It’s important that whoever you hire, they need to complement you and your partner’s personalities.

And the second half of Nicole’s comment: You had mentioned that you brought on your brother and a third party to help with Robeez growth, was this complicated? We are currently a partnership but are interested in taking on a silent third party? Any advice?

I believe you need to equate adding a partner to your business to getting married. It is essential that you have the same vision for the future. Don’t enter into an agreement lightly. Be sure to involve legal counsel and draft a shareholders agreement to ensure everyone’s interests are protected.

add to sk*rt


Tats said...

Great advice Sandra. It's great to see that you are blogging.

Shannon said...

I just added three new staff to my business. It's a giant leap to let go, which I think is the hardest thing for most people. After all, you can find the money, but letting go of part of your baby go is tough.