How Entrepreneurs Can Avoid Costly Hiring Mistakes

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I vividly remember a conversation with one my clients — she was building an online community and since it was taking way too long to do it herself, she hired someone to help her. But on this day, she was frustrated that the online marketing service professional she hired was not getting the job done. Ninety days after her desired “go live” date, the contractor still didn’t have a functional site built.

So I started asking her what her interviewing process was like. Her response is pretty typical of most entrepreneurs.

“Well she was a referral so I didn’t really interview her.”

Oy. Not following a solid interview process is a bad start. I’m sure that in 5% of professional contractor situations things will work out fine. But trust me…you don’t want to be in that 95% that doesn’t work out!

This is not the first (nor the last) time I’ve heard business leader complain about not getting the desired results from their contractors. It’s a pretty common issue, and there’s a pretty easy solution.

Hire Smarter

Yep, it’s that simple. So why don’t more small business owners hire smarter? Typically, this is just not the entrepreneurs’ wheelhouse of strengths. When you are evaluating a contractor, or an employee, virtual assistant or other resource, to do a specific project or type of work there is a VERY different way you need to evaluate their ability to deliver.

I’ll share a few of the tips that I teach all my clients in my Build Your Dream Team system to help you flush out weak or bad fit virtual contractors BEFORE you waste your time and money.

1. Ask About Their Service Model

Many service professionals have been learning how to leverage their time more effectively by building a team of sub-contractors. The problem is, most are not learning how to hire, train and manage these people effectively. So they end up with poor quality control. Or miss deadlines. Find out if they will personally do the work or if they are having someone else do it. You’ll also want to know if they have a backup plan if they are away from work for a period of time.

2. Explore Work Availability

Believe it or not, if you don’t have compatible work schedules you can go from “excited” to “distraught” before you pass go. Many virtual service based professionals are balancing multiple roles (working full-time while building the business at night, full-time parent who only does this work at certain times, or some only work a few select hours a week!) Make sure their availability fits with your needs.

3. Ask About Boundaries

Yep, you need to have THIS conversation. You need to know if they have the courage to push back on you if something isn’t right. Don’t hire someone who can’t say no to you. But you also don’t want someone so stringent that they can’t adapt. Ask things like:

  • If you don’t agree with me, what would you do?
  • If there’s a late night or weekend of work, will that be a problem for you?
  • How many other clients do you work with?
  • Do you have a limit to the number of new clients you’ll take on?
  • Is there anything that might happen that would cause you to want to leave?

4. Get to Know their “Energy”

We all have a unique way that we communicate, filter information and see the world. If you hire someone who is just like you but you need them to do tasks that you hate, you are going to be hugely disappointed! On the other hand, someone who is your “opposite” will most likely drive you crazy. Find out what their core processing style is (driver, creative, supporter or details) and how it fits with yours.

5. Vet Out Their Experience

I know it’s tempting to fill that gap in your team quickly, but PLEASE don’t just have a “first date.” A good service professional is trained to sell you on their services. You need to do your “due diligence” and validate their ability to deliver. Ask for samples. Check at least three references. And perhaps even have them perform a sample task for you to see how well it goes. You’ll learn a lot that’s important to your decision by properly vetting out their experience.

Most importantly, trust your gut. If you have a little voice that says, “don’t do it” then listen to it. You might not know why at that time but down the road you will be thankful when you find that perfect person.

When an entrepreneur wants to accelerate growth, hiring support people can free you up for profit-producing activities. You’ll want to know how to hire the right people at each stage of your business growth — hiring the wrong people at each stage can actually derail your progress quickly. Get a FREE copy of The Smart Entrepreneur’s Guide to Hiring for Rapid Growth and you’ll have a quick resource guide to making excelling decisions for profitable expansion.

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3 Comments

  • Kelly Edmonds

    Reply Reply August 4, 2014

    Thank you for this articulate advice as I have noticed more and more people are either asking how to find good VA help or been burned by a service.

  • Sue Harrawood

    Reply Reply August 19, 2014

    Thank you so much Melanie for posting! Referrals definitely need to be vetted. Sadly the words ‘professional’ and ‘business owner’ mean different things to different people. Fit is 100% crucial. In my VA firm I’m on both sides of the desk so to speak. I know what my clients need in their VA teams and since I build their teams I won’t bring anyone on unless we are all a great fit. Long-term relationships are what we all want. As in corporate America hire slow and fire fast.

    • Melanie Benson Strick

      Reply Reply September 13, 2014

      Sue, you are right, and I agree…hire slow and fire fast!

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