188 brilliant start-up
hours. If you make a good sale or call give yourself the rest of
the day off. Go and see a matinee at the cinema, go for a long
walk in the country. You’ll come back refreshed, energised and
far more effective.
‘Throw a sicky. You know the days when things just don’t
look so great. If you force yourself into work you’ll only pro-
long your illness. And don’t scrimp on holidays. It’s a shock,
but you’ll often find you are not as irreplaceable as you thought
you were. Which brings us nicely on to staff and delegation…
Where to find good employees
Recruitment can be an expensive process, so it’s best to start off
using your own channels first.
Free options
Ask around your own network. This can be larger than you
think. Ask friends and family, but don’t automatically employ
them. It might seem an easy answer in the short term, but
become an emotional minefield longer term.
Ask suppliers. They’ll possibly be dealing with your competi-
tors, and know a disgruntled staff member. Ask customers.
Again they might know your industry. Put an advert on your
website, or try web forums and newsgroups in your industry.
Ask the local enterprise agency and/or council.
brilliant tip
Don’t become irreplaceable. Many people console themselves that
they’re the only one who can do a job perfectly. While flattering
to the ego, that’s not a good place to be. You’ll never grow the
business and might have just bought yourself an expensive job.
Taking on staff 189
Social media is also a help here. Put a note on your LinkedIn
profile, Facebook or Twitter.
You might also want to incentivise people to find staff. Large
companies pay thousands for staff referrals, but in a small busi-
ness a nice bottle of wine can be a sufficient token of appreciation.
The government can help you. The most obvious place to look
is Job Centres, but local enterprise organisations often have pro-
grammes such as ‘women returners’
or schemes for placing enthusiastic
graduates with local companies. Also
consider local university, college and
school career offices.
Commercial options
If the above don’t work, consider advertising. Look at online
job boards. Also consider smaller line adverts in the recruit-
ment sections these can work as well as larger display adverts
at a fraction of the cost.
For highly skilled jobs, don’t rule out recruitment agencies.
Sure, they’ll charge you a percentage of the person’s first year
salary, but you can negotiate hard on this. They’ll save you
the cost of advertising, and hopefully have a good stock of very
suitable candidates.
How to interview for staff
This is not an area on which to cut corners.
Draw up a detailed job description
A sample is shown overleaf.
Ensure that as well as the tasks they’ll do and skills they’ll need,
make sure you also include the attitudes. These can often be
more important.
the government can
help you
190 brilliant start-up
Job description Shop assistant
Person interviewed Jennifer Hopeful
Attitudes needed Friendly and likes working with people
Reliable – will turn up on time
Previous shop experience
Enthusiastic – will muck in
Skills needed Ability to work with customers
Basic maths
Notes
Score out of 10 Friendliness Enthusiasm Reliability Experience
Beware of hiring a clone of yourself. Sure, your new production
manager is a hoot. They laugh at the same jokes as you, and
love to go around chatting to clients. But what happens if they
share the same lax attitude and scant attention to detail as you?
If you’ve done a good analysis of your skills and weaknesses
(Step 1), you won’t actually have much in common with your
new employee. But the pair of you may just be the perfect fit.
Also, be wary of the softer skills staff need in a small business.
They need to be self-motivated, trustworthy and able to work
on their own. Someone coming from the relative security (ha!)
of a large company might freak out at what’s required in a
small business.
brilliant example
You are running a café. The most important skill I would imagine for a
waitress is a pleasant and outgoing personality. So what if they don’t have
experience or food handling qualifications? You can teach those. But you
can’t teach the right attitude.

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