Are you ready to grow your small business? For many small business owners, this may mean growing your team. Here’s some insight from three business advisors and experts about how to go about cultivating an employee base to help your business succeed.
If you ask Laurie Benson, CEO of executive consulting firm LSB Unlimited, “probably one of the most powerful elements in creating success is a powerful team.” So how can you do that? According to Benson, one way comes from empowering your people – let them know that you’ll invest in them with training, tools and valuable experience in exchange for their talents, knowledge and enthusiasm for making the company a better one while they’re there.
Another way Benson encourages employee empowerment comes from ownership of the decision-making process. In her experience, granting the ability to make decisions to the employees “closest” to the work and customer is effective and efficient. She asks that they evaluate the impact on three things: the customer, fellow employees and profitability. Empowering your employees and instilling a sense of responsibility – to the degree that it can work for your business model – gives them a sense of ownership and frees you up from being in the weeds.
Another insight comes from Tony Bracali, President of Friday Architects/Planners, Inc. When it comes to finding folks to add to his team, skill is important – but not necessarily the most important trait he looks for. Finding someone who is “energetic, enthusiastic and wants to grow personally – that’s almost more valuable than having the highest skill level.” Skills can be improved with training, Bracali reminds us. So look for people who want to be challenged and want to step up; those intrinsic qualities and driven personalities can’t be taught the way you can train someone on an advanced computer program, for instance.
Speaking from the Maryland Small Business Development Center as a Retail Industry Manager, Casey Wilson also provides some quick-hitting answers to questions about growing a great team.
What’s the best way to write the job posting? A position description doesn’t have to be complicated. It should be direct and to the point, listing the main responsibilities of the person in the position. Remember the big picture: that the goal is to fill the position as it contributes to your business’s growth and success.
How do I interview prospective employees? Described as objective behavioral interviewing, ask open-ended questions about how that prospective employee has acted in other positions so you can get an idea of how he or she will act at your company. The basic premise of this approach is that past behavior is the best indicator of future behavior.
How do I foster teambuilding? Conduct regular meetings with a fixed agenda that reflects the vision and mission of the business, but always have room for new business and new thoughts. These meetings and brainstorming let employees know they’re being heard and that their contributions are valuable.
How else can I motivate employees? Incentive programs are a great way to let people know they’re esteemed and that their hard work is appreciated. Raises and bonuses are nice, but motivation doesn’t always have to come in the form of big financial incentives. Use your imagination and talk to experienced people in your industry about what they do for their employees. Time off early, recognition in front of peers, taking someone aside for a sincere, affirming conversation – these are just a few ways to help keep your team motivated.
Whether you are a small business owner or new entrepreneur, deciding whether or not you should handle your own business finances can be challenging. In the SCORE Small Business Success Podcast, “Finance and Accounting Tips for Your Business,” SCORE mentor Hal Shelton offers his advice: “Go for your dream. Unless you are an accountant starting up an accounting practice or financial service practice, it’s unlikely that accounting is going to be your thing.” A long-time mentor of over 1,000 businesses, he says it’s important to stick to your strengths and spend your extra time doing something that adds value and potentially cash flow to your business. Shelton shares tips along with questions you should ask when looking for the right accountant or bookkeeper for your business.
When it comes to choosing the right accountant, asking specific questions is very important. Taking time out to understand who your future accountant is and their strengths will be beneficial for your business in the long run. For example, “Do you know my industry?” No matter what industry you are in: retail, consulting, healthcare or any others, it’s important to know if the accountant has specifically worked in that industry. Asking if they have clients in that particular industry and if they are up-to-date with industry practices and trends are great ways to gauge their knowledge and experience.
During your first meeting, be sure to ask what their fees are and how are they calculated. Find out if you are allowed a certain amount of hours/minutes quarterly or monthly to ask questions. Some accountants my charge during the first meeting. Understanding their fees in the beginning will help you determine if the amount of time they have to offer coincides with your business goals.
Before contacting an accountant, decide how you plan to use their services. Will they help you with payroll, tax returns, data processing or any other functions? Do your homework and find out if they have good references as well. Understanding what you want, who they are, and what they can offer plays a huge role in the success of your business.
Want to learn more finance and accounting tips for your business? Listen to the full podcast of “Finance and Accounting Tips for Your Business.” Interested in learning more finance tips for your small business? Check out SCORE’s Finance & Money resources page!