Breaking the Small Business Owner’s Curse: Hiring for Longevity

As a business owner, I’ve frequently struggled with hiring good people and ensuring they last. I’m sure a lot of other people also struggle with it. That’s why I wanted to write this article.

It doesn’t help that we can sometimes give up early in the hiring process either since we get so frustrated. I did that when I first started out and was ready to tear my hair out when I would see more money going out the door on training new hires that didn’t work out. Often, when that happens, you spend even less time on reworking the hiring system. I get it. You might feel like: what’s the point? I’m doomed to sort through crappy people forever.

Hiring: the small business owner’s curse.

In my case, I came from the field and believed that as long as I could work hard as a tech, I could scale and last in the marketplace. Maybe you can relate? Maybe you apply this same logic to hiring? Here’s the catch: using what worked when you were a startup is exactly why you can’t hold onto your people—why you threaten your potential to grow.

If you have aspirations for a business that is more than just you, then you’re going to need to leverage other people’s time and energy. You’re going to have to train individuals in the methodologies, systems, and processes you use that make you great.

But don’t worry, because I can tell you what you need to know…and what you already know—if you read my last article on defining your core values. That’s the secret. To make your people stick, You need to be clear on your core values. This piece of the foundation is paramount if you want to be successful in the long-term.

If your core values aren’t clear, you have the possibility or potential to allow infectious people into your organization. And when I say infectious, I mean people who don’t align with you or your purpose. But you won’t know this from the jump. They might be a skilled person and from the outside seem like a logical fit. But then you’ll find out they’ll always show up late or don’t speak nicely to customers.

That’s why professionalism and communication are two of our core values.

I’d rather have a guy with a lower skill set who is coachable and can be trained and molded into the correct technician that we want. As long as the core values are in alignment and are the underlying foundation within that person’s life, they’re going to align with Top Class.

Even though this is a little bit of a different approach when it comes to onboarding and training people, it’s definitely made a significant difference in our business.

A couple of years ago, we had three really shitty hires back to back to back in a short period. We thought the timing was perfect because we had a big project coming up, and that allowed a couple of weeks leeway to get these guys up to speed. They would know what they were doing and be trustworthy. We felt good about hiring them initially. But in less than 90 days, all three people had been fired, or they’d quit.

Instantly, I was forced back into the field to fill the gap, and since I was working as a technician, it halted the growth of the business.

What I learned is that if you want to prevent what we went through with these hires, then you need to identify your core values and leverage them properly.

If you’re still not convinced, Google employee cost calculators; you’ll see the numbers are absolutely disgusting. Check out what it costs in advertising to get a person on your team, what it costs to train the person, and how long you need to train them. You’ll learn what you are spending when your employees are not producing at the expected level—because they weren’t trained fully. You’ll read about IT costs like setting up email addresses and getting them on your software. And after you look up all the costs you can track, think about what you can’t track. How much time and money did you spend getting them shirts and swag?

After we lost the three guys in such quick succession, I added up the expenses and was blown away by what it cost to hire them—cash right out the window.

Our system was broken.

Unsure what to do, I talked to my coach, and he gave me the kick in the ass I needed to work on the business’s core values. My partner Jimmy and I had some intense conversations to drill down into what we wanted our core values to be. Jimmy believes in a lot of things I don’t and vice versa, but that didn’t matter. We needed to work through these differences to agree on our core values.

Once we did that, our company strengthened. It didn’t happen overnight, but it did happen. Get clear on your core values, and you will be amazed at what you are actually attracting to your business. It changes every aspect of your business, even the bottom line!

You never know when the perfect person for your organization is going to come along. So always be open to hiring people. With your core values in place, your process to bring them on-board will be that much easier and more economical. You will always be in the best position to grow your company and optimize every hiring opportunity.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

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