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10 Hiring Tips for Small Business Owners

As a successful small business owner,you're accustomed to long hours; non-existent holidays and weekends spent working.

When was the last time you went to your dentist? When was the last time you had an uninterrupted night out with your partner?

Whether your goal for 2005 is to find more time for family or personal enrichment --like attending classes and conferences -- you'll want to consider bringing on some help.

The following tips can help you get started whether you want to bring on a team of 10 or an occasional backup!

Don't expect to hire a replica of you! Each person you meet and interview will be a living, breathing human, with their own habits, mannerisms and even ideas! This is fine - -as long as their ideas and habits are not philosophically opposed to yours. My first hire, Jen, was pursuing a graduate degree, had just moved to the area and is nearly 20 years younger than I am! She's detail-oriented and relies on schedules to get things done. I'm a bit more 'seat of my pants' type of operator. She's a perfect fit because she complements my way of working! Over time she's grown into managing portions of my business that I neglected - like maintaining scheduling and billing.

Know exactly what you expect from your new hire. Before you advertise for help, sit down and write a job description. List your goals for the new hire - do you want someone who can fill in on short notice when you need to take a day off, or do you want someone who can work a regular schedule? Do you want someone who can meet with clients, set their own schedules and attend meetings and events on your behalf or do you simply need someone who can pick up your overflow? By spending time working through your thoughts on hired help you are setting yourself up for a great working relationship. If you can clearly articulate the job to all applicants, they will have the opportunity to determine if this is a mutually agreeable fit. Be sure to concentrate on specific job-related descriptions, and not subjective information.

Determine what type of manager you are! It's imperative that you're honest about your workstyle. After all, if you say you want an independent thinker, but really do a lot of 'checking-in' you may end up with an unhappy helper. On the other hand, if you hire someone who needs lots of feedback, you need to be sure that you are cut-out for the 'people part' of the management process.

Set aside time. If you expect to hire someone by the 15th of next month you may be setting yourself up for failure. Just as you can't expect to find a perfect replica of you - you can't always put a deadline on your hiring process. In other words, plan to advertise, interview and train until you find the RIGHT person. (SECRET TIP: If you find the right person - Hire them right away and then find work for them! Never pass up a great hire!)

Ask your insurance carrier about your responsibility for insuring your team members. Whether you hire Independent Consultant's or Employees is a topic for another article, however, you need to make certain that your company is covered.

Determine your time-off policy. Just like you, your team members will need time off - whether to recover from the flu or just to re- charge. How will you handle these absences?

Create a disciplinary and review process. Whether you need to tackle issues of poor performance, or chronic absenteeism -- have a policy in place before you bring on your first team member. Questions to address in this process include: How many emergency absences are acceptable in a given time period? How will you deal with customer complaints and concerns? How will you reward outstanding performance? What format will you use to communicate with your team?

Find a reputable company for conducting background checks. If your company's product or service requires your employees to access clients' homes, children or possessions do not overlook the importance of conducting a background check. You can search on the web, ask your insurance provider, or talk to your local police authorities for recommendations on companies to conduct this check for you. In each instance, you will need the applicant's signature and understanding that you will have a third party conduct a background check as a condition of employment.

Create a Fact Sheet for Applicants that you can provide along with an application to interested candidates. This sheet should cover your basic job description, expectations and hiring process.

Create your training program. Whether a detailed manual or one-on-one training for a specified period of time - make sure you have a written outline. Your training program should include all aspects of the job you expect your new hire to complete. Many misunderstandings and frustrations occur simply because a new hire didn't understand the expectations of the boss.

By following these tips, you are well on your way to a happy and productive working relationship with all your new help!

Small Business Success Coach, Peggie Arvidson-Dailey, is the author of "How to be a Client Attraction Guru" and the creator of the Pet-Care Business Success System?. To learn more about this step-by-step program for making your pet-care business stand out from the crowd, and to sign up for FREE how-to articles and FREE teleclasses, visit

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