Staffing for Scale in Small Business

Exponential growth in sales also means exponential growth in the amount of work to be done. As you scale, it’s important to increase your staff size appropriately to keep up with customer demand. Hiring without a clear plan in place can lead to poor choices and more recruiting work down the line.
These 4 tips will help you make wise hiring choices as you scale your team along with your company. 

1. Hire for the Long Term

If scale is one of your primary goals, your first few hires will be crucial to your success. Each member you bring on will become a key player on your team. During the hiring process, be sure to ask yourself: Is this person someone who can fill a short-term need, or someone who will help me achieve my long-term mission? Hire only the people who fall into the latter category. 

2. Hire Strategically

At first, your open positions will be created to take work off your plate, so you’ll be bringing people on who can do what you do. The next phase of hiring should be strategically oriented to recruit people who have skills or experience that you don’t have. These people will help bring fresh insights to the table and provide complementary viewpoints to your own—two things your business needs in order to thrive.

3. Hire for Culture

When there’s pressure to add heads quickly, it’s easy to take the first qualified candidate who walks in the door. If you want to maintain a great company culture as you scale, you need to keep hiring people who will make a positive contribution to that culture. In addition to considering individual skills and personalities during the hiring process, think about how each person will mesh with your company’s ethos.

4. Hire to Keep Up with Demand

As sales increase, your staff will quickly become maxed out. It’ll make the hiring process easier if you can come up with a formula early on to determine how much work each person can do so that you know when to add more staff members. For example, you might calculate on an hourly basis how many customers a salesperson can help, how many orders a register clerk can ring up, or how many haircuts a stylist can give. These estimates will help you determine when and what kinds of new hires to make so that quality and efficiency remain high during the scaling process.

The Bottom Line

Building a strong foundation of staff members who are there for the long haul, dedicated to your mission, complement your skills and expertise, and mesh well with your company culture is essential to being able to scale quickly and stably. As you project growth for your business, you’ll want to similarly project growth and allocate resources for new heads to ensure that your business continues to operate smoothly.

6 Hiring Tips for Small Businesses

At a small company, each and every person plays a pivotal role in your business’s daily operations. As owner, this means that hiring is one of your most important responsibilities.
Hiring criteria will vary depending on your company’s size, industry, and location, but these 6 tips apply universally to anyone looking to bring on new staff member.

Tip #1: Clearly Define Each Role

If your job description is vague, you’re going to have a hard time finding a candidate who’s interested—at least a candidate that you’d want to hire. Make sure to clearly define the responsibilities of each new staff member you’re hiring for, and tie each role back to your business’s overall mission.

Tip #2: Look for a Good Fit with Your Vision and Culture

Just because someone has relevant work experience doesn’t mean that they’ll be a good fit for your position. When reviewing cover letters and conducting interviews, make sure to look for signs that a candidate will mesh with your business’s vision and culture. For example, if you own a daycare whose mission is to help prepare kids to succeed in elementary school, and a candidate doesn’t really care much about education, they’re probably not going to help you achieve your goals, even if they’ve had previous experience with childcare.

Tip #3: Enlist Your Team’s Help in Recruiting

You’ve already done the hard work of hiring great people for your team, so why not enlist their help to hire other great people? Most employees are happy to recommend potential candidates for open positions, especially if there’s a referral bonus or other incentive in place.

Tip #4: Don’t Settle for a Lesser Candidate

It happens to everyone—an employee quits suddenly, leaving a gaping hole in your staff and causing more work for everyone left behind. But hiring the first candidate you interview just to get someone in the door will likely cause more hiring work in the long run. Take your time and find the right person for the job, even if it means longer shifts for you and your staff in the meantime.

Tip #5: Take Candidates for a Test Run

A candidate can look great on paper, but when the rubber hits the road, they don’t actually have the skills or learning aptitude the job requires. Restaurants, bakeries, and other food establishments already have a stage system in place that makes test runs a part of the hiring process, but other small businesses can adopt a similar system when it makes sense. It benefits you as the employer by seeing how a person will perform on the job, and it benefits the potential employee by giving them a chance to experience what their day-to-day would look like.

Tip #6: Have a Clear Onboarding Process

Once you’ve hired someone, make sure to have a clear onboarding process in place. Throwing someone in the deep end with no guidance, or training them piecemeal over the course of a few weeks, will put the new person (and your business) at a disadvantage. Take the time up front to develop documentation and training plans to make the onboarding process as smooth as possible.

The Bottom Line

People are a key component in a small business’s success. Take the time and effort needed to hire great staff members who will help you achieve your goals and make a positive contribution to the culture and vision you’ve created.

[News] 80% of Mobile Searches for Local Businesses Result in a Purchase

Here’s a highlight of some of the top local-business-related news of the week:

[Mobile News] Study Reveals 80% of Mobile Searches for Local Businesses Result in Purchase

News Source: Street Fight

A new report from Neustar Localeze and 15miles indicates that consumers are increasingly turning to mobile to find local businesses when they’re ready to make a purchase. The key metrics include:

  • 79% of smartphone owners and 81% of tablet owners use their devices to search for information on local businesses.
  • 80% of those mobile searches for local businesses result in a purchase, 75% occurring at a physical storefront.
  • Only 50% of consumers are satisfied with the mobile search experience for local businesses.
  • Survey participants noted that information around products & services tends to be lacking or hard to find on mobile. They also noted that accurate hours of operation are a key piece of information they look for when making a purchase decision.

Key Takeaway: It’s never been more crucial to make sure your business location, hours of operation, and products & services are easy for consumers to access on mobile. Did you know that SinglePlatform provides a mobile-optimized website that includes all of this content in one easy-to-read page? Find out more about how our service could benefit your business.

[Hiring News] Report: Businesses with More Women Perform Better

News Source: Mashable

The Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology recently released a new paper entitled The Case for Investing in Women. This paper pulls together statistics from a variety disciplines to make the case that hiring more women contributes to an overall better working environment. A few key facts from the study:

  • Fortune 500 companies with 3 or more female directors have a 66% higher return on investment and a 42% higher return on sales.
  • International studies across a variety of industries found that teams with more women have greater psychological safety, group experimentation, and team confidence and efficiency.
  • Teams with at least one female member have a higher collective IQ than teams of just men.

Key Takeaway: Many studies, this one included, have proven that more diversity leads to more creative teams, which in turn leads to better businesses. When considering new hires, make sure to look for not just a particular skill set, but also someone who can bring a unique perspective to your day-to-day operations.

[Social Media News] Research Helps Businesses Identify the Best Networks for Social Marketing

News Source: Social Media Examiner

This week, Social Media Examiner shared a compilation of social media research findings around trends in user and brand behaviors across networks. Their four key findings were:

  1. Users spend more time on visual networks like Facebook (6:33 hours per visitor per month), Tumblr (1:38 hours per visitor per month), and Pinterest (1:17 hours per visitor per month).
  2. While Google+ is not a high priority in terms of audience engagement for most marketers, the social network is becoming valuable as a SEO tool.
  3. Facebook’s News Feed algorithm changes in January are motivating marketers to mix up their content with photos, videos, links, questions, and offers in order to reach their followers.
  4. B2B marketers are finding the most success on LinkedIn.

Key Takeaway: These findings reinforce industry trends that have been percolating for awhile now. Visual marketing has become an essential piece of the overall marketing puzzle for businesses across the board, and taking advantage of less enticing social networks such as Google+ and LinkedIn is paying off for businesses as well. If you’ve been hesitant to take risks in your small business social marketing, now is the time to get out there and try new things!

[News] Small Businesses Slow to Invest in Reviews

Here’s a highlight of some of the top local-business-related news of the week:

[Reviews] Study Reveals Only 13% of Small Businesses Invest in Reviews

News Source: Street Fight

This week, Yodle released a study that revealed a disconnect between the way small business owners view online reviews and the way customers view them. Only 13% of surveyed business owners said that they were actively encouraging online reviews from customers, although 90% of customers find online reviews to be essential in the decision-making process. The majority of survey participants did not see online reviews as important.

The main reason that small business owners don’t invest in reviews is the amount of time and effort it takes to curate and respond to online comments. Most small businesses don’t have a dedicated marketing resource on staff to handle this type of outreach.

Another factor in small business owners’ lack of enthusiasm is skepticism about the legitimacy of online review sites. Many entrepreneurs believe that these sites skew results in favor of businesses who advertise with them.

Key Takeaway: While small business owners may be slow to embrace the online review system, consumers are relying heavily on it to make purchase decisions. In order to remain competitive and make sure your small business’s online reputation remains solid, you need to invest in online reviews by encouraging patrons to provide positive feedback and by responding to negative feedback promptly and respectfully.

[Social Media] LinkedIn Launches Small Business Microsite

News Source: Business News Daily

This week, LinkedIn announced the launch of a new microsite to support small businesses. The microsite will feature tips and advice on branding, marketing, sales, and hiring using the LinkedIn platform.

The launch of this microsite falls in line with LinkedIn’s recent small business social media study, which showed that small businesses find social media to be an effective marketing channel. By providing better support, the social network hopes to garner more active participation from small business users.

Key Takeaway: This new resource will help small businesses make the most of the LinkedIn platform, which has historically focused on large corporations with established brands. While the microsite’s content is tailored specifically to the LinkedIn platform, some of the branding and marketing advice will be applicable to a variety of social media channels. If you’ve struggled to make the most of LinkedIn, these resources will help take your LinkedIn profile from meh to magic.

[Hiring] More Small Businesses Outsourcing Work to Contractors Abroad

News Source: NY Times

A recent paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research indicates that outsourcing isn’t just for big businesses any more: Small businesses are also jumping on the outsourcing bandwagon in order to cut costs.

One-off tasks such as website design, translation, and software development are being outsourced with the help of online marketplaces such as oDesk, Freelancer, and Guru. These marketplaces make it easy to review candidates’ experience and portfolios to find the right fit for the job, saving small businesses both time and money.

Key Takeaway: Finding contractors to complete discrete projects is now easier than ever for small businesses, and online marketplaces make international labor an accessible and cheap alternative to US freelancers. But is it really a good thing? While small businesses may save a bit of money by outsourcing, this decision undermines the “shop local” ethic that they themselves encourage patrons to follow by not supporting local freelancers. 

Other news catch your eye this week? Leave a comment and let us know!