Behind every successful business is a well thought out structure. A structure of your people and how your business is structured internally. A good structure is based on the foundations you put in place from day one of the business. Who’s responsible for each department and what their role is within the business. We touched on the importance of this in Chapter 4. In this chapter I’ll talk into this in more detail along with how important employees are to the success of any business.
Your structure of people starts with an employee organisation structure. At this point you may be the only person in your business, but this doesn’t stop you creating an employee organisation structure as shown below.
Start with a blank piece of paper and right at the top centre of the page, draw a square box, and in that box, write Director and your name inside it. You are top of the organisation structure because you are the owner and major shareholder. As you’ve already thought about and written your company vision, you’ll know how many different positions you’ll need to fill with employees for both present and the future. For now, you may find that you have your name in every position within your company, but don’t worry, the good thing is that you’ll identify the positions that need to be filled with other people (employees).
|Head of Finance||Head of Sales||Head of Production|
|Your Name||Your Name||Your Name|
|Book Keeper 1: Your Name||Salesman 1: Your Name||Production worker 1: Your Name|
|Salesman 2: Your Name||Production worker 2: Your Name|
|Production worker 3: Your Name|
|Production worker 4: Your Name|
As new employees come in to fill the positions, keep the structure updated and visible for everyone to see. For example, below I have used an organisation structure from one of my businesses, Concept Pools. It identifies management positions with technicians below them in varied positions.
|Head of Finance||Head of Service||Head of Contracts||Head of Sales/Marketing|
|Adam Thorpe||Andy Thistleton||Dave Nightingale||Adam Moffatt|
|Book Keeper 1||Service Engineer 1||Installation Engineer 1||Salesman 1|
|Service Engineer 2||Installation Engineer 2|
|Service Engineer 3||Installation Engineer 3|
|Service Engineer 4||Installation Engineer 4|
At the top we have me, Director/major shareholder. Underneath me we have management positions, which we prefer to refer to as Heads of Departments, as these are leadership positions which include coaching and mentoring employees, they are responsible for within the company; not just managing people by dictatorship, telling them what to do and how to do it.
Next comes the individual employees for each department, the technicians of the business. So, in total we have 4 management positions and 9 technician positions. This structure is based on a service business with a turnover of 2.5 million pounds to give you an idea of staff required versus turnover. Every business will be different, but this will give you an idea of what you might need as you scale.
For each position, roles and responsibilities are carefully thought about and written. These responsibilities can vary from who is responsible for acquiring a new service contract, to simple things like, who keeps the coffee and milk topped up in the kitchen. People don’t know what they don’t know, but if it’s written down on a document by you at the start and then given to each employee to read, understand and sign, then this should get your people singing from the same hymn sheet and help the businesses run more smoothly and efficiently with a high level of control.
So, who would be your first employee within your structure? I think you’ll be very surprised with what I’m about to share with you. The first person through the door as your first employee should be Head of Finance. Somebody who can take care of the money, invoices, suppliers, banks, setting up of supplier accounts, chasing outstanding invoices, just to name a few of the task involved within this role.
If you’re like me, I hate numbers and wasn’t very good at maths. I think I walked out of school with an E, so numbers are not my strongest point. This is why I only employ people who are better than me.
Doing the accounts department work is often overlooked, and not on the top of everyone’s list from the start, but from experience they should be the first employee, even if it’s only part time.
Often start-ups will say to themselves, well I can do the invoicing and supplier bills at night time or on weekends. But if this isn’t your strength, then why would you want to it. You should be concentrating on the activities that earn you more money. Activities that only you can do.
If employing someone to do the accounts puts you off or you say you can’t afford them, then a good option would be to find somebody part time to start with. Maybe someone who has retired and is looking for some extra income on top of their pensions. But most importantly has experience that you don’t have and keeps the money side of things on track while you are busy doing what you are good at; while also growing and planning the future of your business.
Employees are the heartbeat of any thriving business. Finding the right people for the right positions is probably one of the hardest tasks a business has to undertake.
Over the years I’ve learned to be constantly on the lookout for new talent. One of my core values when it comes to recruiting is to only employ people who are better than me. I only look for ‘A’ players. It’s not about putting bums on seats. You’re not always going to get it right, but sometimes you just know if the person is a right fit or not. Knowing and understanding your company culture and values will give you a better success rate.
The more you learn, the more you earn
For me, you have to consciously be on the lookout for new talent. Even when you don’t have any positions to fill. You can be anywhere, a restaurant, clothes shop, out at family gatherings, at meetings with suppliers for instance.
One of my best salesmen was originally working as a rep for one of our key suppliers. He came in for a meeting to upsell a new product. During the meeting I thought to myself, I like this guy, his attitude and the way he came across resonated with me. Bearing in mind, at the time he was working for a 2 billion turnover company, and here I was thinking about poaching him. Later that week I planted the seed with him via a telephone call. I then followed this up with an informal meeting where we discussed our goals and vision for the company, and most importantly, where I could see him fitting in to help us grow and develop the business.
At the time I wasn’t really looking for a salesman, so I created the position within the company because I knew this guy could help us scale and scale fast. So, within one month of planting a seed, we had officially started our first salesman. Salesmen are not really the industry norm, so we were going into unchartered waters, which felt brilliant. Twelve months later and he had hit all the targets and goals we set out for him and is currently in the process of developing a sales team underneath him.
Building your team of ‘A’ players is challenging, but very rewarding. Once you have the right people in the right places, your job as a technician working within the business is over. Leaving you time to work on the business rather than in it. Think for a moment, how you’d feel if you didn’t have to work in your business on a day to day basis and it still churned out the results; if not better results than it did when you touched every part of the business. The word freedom comes to mind…. Hmmm.
Develop your employees to develop your business. Just as the owner of the business, you can put a lid on your business by not developing yourself on a consistent basis. It’s the same for your employees. They are only as good as the skills and thinking they currently have. If you’re not investing in your employees, then how can they develop and in turn, how can the business develop.
A favourite and inspiring quote of mine is: The more you learn the more you earn.
Let’s face it, people come to work to earn money. Nobody really wants to go to work, so the least we can do as business owners is to provide an environment where employees can enjoy their work and also be compensated for their efforts. Compensation can come in various different ways, such as holiday entitlement, pay raises and bonuses to name a few.
Every December I give all our employees a bonus and also a pay rise. Even me. This instantly brings a feel-good factor to each individual, which transcends into the company re-start in January. All the staff come back to work and hit the ground running and there’s a feel-good factor around the company. Everyone is pulling together and giving their all, ready for the year ahead. For me this is a worthwhile investment every December.
Employing people can be a roller coaster ride. Back in May 2017 one of my engineers was out riding his motor cross bike on a track at the weekend. He came off the bike and broke his neck and also picked up a few other injuries. Thankfully not life threatening and he’s since gone to make a full recovery.
When something like this happens, as an employer you have several different reactions. First thought is, I hope he’s ok. Then you realise you’re going to be a man down and he’ll need replacing, which will cost money. But you also need to look after the guy who’s laid up in bed incapacitated. What I did in this instance was find out how much his bills were and made sure we covered them until he returned to work 3 months later.
I’m guessing there aren’t many companies that would be so supporting under the circumstances. On his return to work I think he felt somehow indebted to us for sticking by him. He’s since done more than just appease himself. In fact, he has gone the extra mile on many occasions, worked very hard and earned himself a promotion within the company with an 8k pay rise.
All employees are an investment. They lighten my work load and help scale the business year on year, allowing you time to work on your business rather than in it. I am truly thankful for the people I have. I make everyone a promise when they start work for me. A promise that I’ll help them create a better life for themselves and their families. I tell them, that as the company grows, so will the benefits of being part of it. They’re not just a number. They are part of a family.
To be continued. . .