Common Mistakes of Hiring at a Small Company

Discover essential hiring strategies for small businesses, highlighting the balance between skill sets, the importance of a structured process, and how fractional leadership at Ideal Rev can drive long-term business growth.

Kyle Ferguson
January 10, 2024
6 Minutes

Hiring the right people is critical  for small businesses - you can either waste precious time, money and effort or make the hire of a lifetime that can single handedly make your business a success.

Most small businesses overlook its importance and the effort required to do it right, opting to wing it but hiring isn't something you want to wing.

Early hires determine your business's growth trajectory, making it crucial to approach hiring not just as a necessity but as a skill that requires dedicated time and effort.

You either need to invest the proper time it needs to do it right yourself or lean on recruiting experts like at our team at Ideal Rev or ideally a combination of both.

Lack of a hiring process 

Many small businesses falter in hiring due to a lack of a defined candidate profile and defined roles & responsibilities. Once you define your candidate profiles, you have to work hard to attract top talent.

Without a dedicated recruiting process to identify candidates and reach out to the ones who are an ideal fit for your company, you are stuck with whatever comes to you.

Once they do get candidates in the pipeline, they lack a thorough interviewing process.

It's not that small business owners can't be good at interviewing; it's often that they don't invest time in developing a structured hiring process. 

I get it, you business owners are busy but you don’t want to rush a major hiring decision.

Avoid 'winging it' in interviews - instead build out a playbook based on proven strategies which you can research online or consult an expert on.

Lack of Onboarding, Training, and Employee Development

Investing in onboarding, training, and development process for new hires pays dividends.

Onboarding should go beyond mere introductions; it should immerse new employees in the company culture & systems, clarify their roles and expectations, and provide them with the necessary tools for success. 

Continuous training keeps skills sharp and relevant, boosting job satisfaction and productivity. 

I get it, every teammate at a small company has so much work to do.

It's hard to train the new person but it can be as simple as inviting them to shadow you or other employees or taking some extra time to explain how your systems work in your team meeting.

Find ways to make it easy, review past clients with your new hire and encourage them to ask questions and take notes.

These efforts not only help employees thrive but also contribute significantly to the overall health and success of the business.

The risks of chasing unicorns  

While looking for a 'unicorn' hire with a wide range of skills is tempting, this approach can often be unrealistic.

In these cases, you are also likely setting unrealistic expectations in terms of responsibilities for your new hire.

The more focused, the more effective they will be.

Small businesses need versatile individuals, but it's important to focus on candidates who bring the skilla that are most essential to your business now. and soft skills.

Overlooking soft skills

Technical skills can be easier to interview for so companies often overlook soft skills since they don't know how to vet them in interviews.

A strong passion for your mission, a willingness to work hard, a cultural fit, and a coachable attitude are fundamental to succeeding at a startup.

Balance is key; you want team members who can grow with your business, not just check all the boxes on paper.

You can often train technical skills, but soft skills are harder to develop.

If you need a variety of specific technical skills, you are likely better off hiring freelance and consultant specialists to take on specific needs.

Hiring Friends and Family

There are situations where hiring friends and family can work, especially if trustworthiness is a priority. 

However, if they lack the necessary expertise, it can lead to uncomfortable situations, especially if you need to make tough decisions about their employment in the future. 

Don’t hire friends and family just because it's convenient. 

Instead, invest time in creating a clear candidate profile and prepare for the interview process, including checking references diligently and running a similar process for each candidate.

Hiring from Big Companies

While hiring individuals with experience from larger corporations may seem appealing, it's important for small businesses to recognize the potential pitfalls.

Employees from bigger companies might struggle with the agility and varied responsibilities required in a smaller business environment.

They are often accustomed to more resources, clearer role definitions, and a different company culture.

Assessing their adaptability, comfort with a broader scope of work, and alignment with your startup's pace and culture is crucial to ensure a successful integration into your team.

Remember, the right fit for a small business goes beyond experience; it's about flexibility, entrepreneurial spirit, and the ability to thrive in a dynamic environment.

Avoiding Premature Full-Time Hires

It's tempting to bring in full-time staff to address immediate needs, but this can lead to increased overhead and reduced flexibility. 

Before committing to a full-time hire, consider if the role can be temporarily or partially filled by a freelancer or part-time expert. 

This approach allows you to scale your workforce based on current demands and can be a more cost-effective solution.

It also gives you the flexibility to adapt as your business needs change, ensuring that you're not overcommitting resources prematurely.

Do it right, the first time

Effective hiring in a small business context is about finding the right balance of skills, attitude, and fit for your company culture. 

By dedicating the necessary time and effort to the hiring process and avoiding common pitfalls, you can build a team that not only meets your current needs but also contributes to your business's long-term growth and success.

At Ideal Rev, we provide fractional leadership which can help you grow faster for the fraction of the cost of hiring full-time and connect you with talented part-time talent that can scale with you. 

If you lack the time and skills to do hiring the right way, you can lean on our fractional experts to help.

Understanding Your Market

The success of any startup relies heavily on understanding the market it operates in and identifying the ideal customers within that market. Understanding your customer and becoming a subject matter expert is key, especially at the formidable stages.

By having insight into potential customers, you know what problems you should be solving with your product and how to communicate in a way that appeals to them.

The market is the broader industry that you serve. The ideal customer dives deeper into who your product is the best fit to serve. It's a way to segment your customers.

You might not know who your product best serves yet, and that is okay, but it's important to hypothesize and test who is.

Make some assumptions about what would make a customer a good fit for your product and test those assumptions otherwise, use your current customer base and data to guide you.

Here are some of the key steps to understanding your market and identifying your ideal customers:

Understanding Your Market

1. Research industry trends and news: Stay updated on current and emerging trends in your industry. Search Google news, read articles and follow the right people on social media to gain insights into customer preferences and potential opportunities.

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