When it comes to hiring new staff for your business, you could do far worse than listening to the advice of Sir Richard Branson. The British entrepreneur may have a net worth over US $5.2 billion, but he once ran a small magazine and mail-order business with only a handful of staff.

Branson has developed a reputation for inspirational quotes, but there’s one that stands out.

“It’s all about finding and hiring people smarter than you. Getting them to join your business. And giving them good work. Then getting out of their way. And trusting them. You have to get out of the way so you can focus on the bigger vision.”

There’s no doubting that new hires, especially your first hires, are a big decision. And it’s understandable if you are concerned about finding people who have the right skills, personality and cultural fit for your business. Hiring mistakes can be costly, salary payments are a big commitment and you’ll have a whole bunch of new legal and tax obligations.

When is the right time to hire?

It’s usually time to think about making new hires when business growth is being impacted by your lack of time or capacity. In the early days, small business owners tend to wear as many hats as possible. But there eventually becomes a point where you’ll need to expand beyond the ‘one-man-band’.

You may find that there is a skill gap that needs to be plugged or that the business has outgrown the people that initially got it off the ground. If your revenue stream is consistent then making a new set of hires can keep your business moving to the next level.

Who to hire?

The positions you hire for will differ depending on your business.

To begin with, consider whether you really need to hire someone or whether you can rely on the services of outsourced help and freelancers. What will be the most economical?

Look for someone who is going to be a perfect cultural fit. Figuring this out can be difficult, so think of some good interview questions that will help you feel confident that you’re making the right decision.

Where to find good quality candidates?

When it comes to finding good quality candidates, networking can be your best friend. Recruitment agencies can be expensive, especially for top talent, so ask for referrals. Utilise your LinkedIn network and the network of any existing staff, partners, and suppliers.

To attract top talent, you will need to be able to sell the benefits of working for a small business. These can include less bureaucracy, closer relationships between staff and leaders, more breadth in the job description, improved chances for growth and greater flexibility with work-life balance.

Find people smarter than you

Back to the Richard Branson quote, this is the important bit. Find people who can help bring your company vision to life. You want to be able to let people do their job and know that they’re going to do it well. If you’re not confident in their abilities, you’ll spend too much time managing them and setting their tasks. Hire smart peoples who will allow you to get out of the way and spend more time running your business!

You can find out more about hiring new employees via the Australian Fair Work Ombudsman.

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