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 have learned to be constantly on the lookout for new talent. One of my core values when it comes to recruiting is

Only employ people who are better than you

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.

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 a meeting with suppliers for instance. One of my best salesman 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 un chartered 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.

Today, before sitting down to write this article I’ve interviewed another potential employee.  We are currently on a recruitment drive and are looking for four new employees for various positions in the first quarter of this year. Today’s interview was for Head of Finance. Again, punching above our weight, we have found a candidate who works in the corporate world for a large UK bank. He’s an A player and is certainly better than me when it comes to finance. This is someone who can help us develop a Finance Department as we scale the businesses. It was a good meeting. Earlier in the week I had emailed him a job description with roles and responsibilities, and he came prepared. Prepared with all the corporate world questions. How much do you contribute to my pension, do we get private medical care…etc. I was also prepared. I had structured the interview process in a way where I could put across the difference between the corporate world and small businesses. I also put it in a way where he felt he was making progression in his career with a company with room for massive growth. I’m pretty confident that he will be joining us and with his help and expertise he will help us develop financial systems and processes.

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 would 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 are 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 ways, such as holiday entitlement, pay raises and bonuses to name a few. In December I gave all our employees a bonus and also a pay rise. Even me. This instantly put smiles on the faces of everyone and in January we have reaped the reward. All the staff have hit the ground running and there is a feel-good factor around the company. Everyone is pulling together and giving their all. For me this was a worthwhile investment back in December.

Employing people can be a roller coaster ride. Earlier this year 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. Thank fully not life threatening and he has since gone on to make a full recovery. When something like this happens, as an employer you have several different reactions. First thought was, I hope he’s ok. Then you realise you’re going to be a man down and he will need replacing, which will cost money. But you also need to look after the guy who is 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 supportive under the circumstances. On his return to work I think he felt somehow indebted to us for sticking by him. He has 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.

I see all my employees as an investment. They lighten my work load and help scale the business year on year, allowing me time to work on my 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 will 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’re part of a family.