Hire slow, fire fast.
I recently received a desperate call for help from one of my mentees, who is working hard to grow his new clothing company. He sought advice about how to deal with a lazy business partner who is preventing the company from moving forward. My mentee wrote,
I have been working on my company for the past few months and things are going OK. I have a friend who I have known since 1996. He is also working on our clothing line. He says that he is interested in combining our ideas and working together. . . . That was almost a year ago. At the beginning, he was eager and helping a lot. Now, not as much. There hasn’t been much communication about what he wants to do. I questioned him last month to see what ideas he had. Basically, he just said that he is still thinking about ideas, but he’s broke. I don’t have much money either, but I have gotten shirts printed and ready to sell. At this point, I’m lost. It’s like he says one thing and does something else. What do you think I should do? Should I try to work it out by myself or should I cut ties and find a business partner who is not a friend, but who is serious about things?
As soon as I finished reading his e-mail, I replied, “It sounds like you’ve already made a decision, a right decision. You don’t have time to wait. Find someone who is on top of their game.” I hope he takes my advice.
My mentee faced a common challenge for entrepreneurs: finding and keeping the best talent to accomplish their business goals. Other than financial problems, this challenge is probably the most nerve-wracking part of growing a business, especially if you have little in the way of resources to attract and compensate workers. Regardless of the situation, great entrepreneurs find the right people to make their dreams happen.
There are two types of entrepreneurs when it comes to finding talent.
One type of entrepreneur is weak and indecisive on personnel decisions. Such a person is desperate to find a business partner, contractor, or employee, accepting practically anyone without the proper due diligence. Lacking the patience or knowledge to screen people, this type of entrepreneur is quick to enlist a friend or acquaintance and slow to fully assess a prospect’s worth. A person whose performance is poor or hurting the business receives multiple second chances. Finally, the entrepreneur is too scared to pull the trigger and perhaps fire the wrong people on the team. The firing comes eventually, after valuable time and resources have been wasted.
The other type of entrepreneur is strong and resolved, almost ruthless in pursuit of good people and knowing exactly what to look for. There’s no rush to judgment about prospects; anyone who joins the team is the best person for the job. Decisions come without emotion, and nepotism is never an option. Poor performers rarely get second chances. This type of entrepreneur reaches goals more quickly because of rapid, wise, and fair personnel decisions. Every entrepreneur should follow this model.
One of the biggest misconceptions about forming a team or hiring employees is that once you find great people, your personnel problems are solved and that everyone will constitute a tight and effective unit for years to come. Business rarely works out that way, especially for young companies. For reasons ranging from poor performance to recruitment by other companies, you can expect to lose people. Because attrition is inevitable, entrepreneurs and leaders of small companies must be committed to always looking for good talent.
Accept only the best people for your business. If you are most efficient in your search for talent, even the lesser candidates you consider will be above average. As a result, your company will grow faster and last longer.