First Person: Staffing a Startup

Yahoo Contributor Network

Startup of a small business can be extraordinarily exciting and rewarding. It can also be incredibly stressful. One of the main stresses involves staffing challenges. Having consulted with over 170 clients and having run my own company for six years, I have found entrepreneurs often rely on family and friends to get their new businesses off the ground. I know I did.

I was fortunate because my wife had the management and accounting expertise to manage and handle both administrative systems and accounting. Best of all, she was extremely supportive. Entrepreneurs are often not as fortunate. Therefore, before I cover ideas regarding staffing your startup small business, here are the challenges.

Problem with Hiring and Staffing

- Trying to fit a body to a job he or she has no aptitude for and no interest in

- Creating the job to fit the person - very common problem

- Conflicts over who reports to whom

- Feelings of entitlement

- Resentment by other employees who aren't family or longtime friends

- Glass ceiling for other employees

- Hiring relatives who really don't care for the business

- Hiring people with no prior experience to draw upon

- Spend all of your time training instead of managing

Many of my small business consulting jobs were to solve problems from family conflicts. Others came from hiring friends who weren't experienced in the jobs to be done or didn't want to do that job.

Hiring Competent, Experienced Employees

The best idea would be to hire someone really competent and knowledgeable to do your key jobs. However, there are three potential problems with staffing your startup that way:

- Hiring good, experienced people is expensive

- You may need to develop greater self-confidence to manage them

- You may find it necessary to give up a large percentage of your business to attract them

Staffing Solutions Available

When I started my small business, I was pretty much locked into the idea of needing full-time employees plus subcontractors to fill in during times when we couldn't cover the load on our own. Over the years as a small business consultant, I have seen lots of ideas that I would use next time. Here's a list of options:

- full-time

- part-time

- piecework, i.e. employees paid by the unit, like for installing a window or doing car repairs

- subcontractors

- virtual assistants (remote workers)

- consultants

- interns

Keys to Reducing Personnel Problems

- Define responsibilities and authority

- Hire for the job skills you need

Define Responsibilities and Authority

There are three tools to help you clearly define responsibilities and authority. Having worked for a small business that lacked these, I know the pain of being an executive without knowing my authority or responsibilities beyond selling.

These tools are the following:

- An organizational chart showing the key jobs, who has what position and who reports to whom

- Job descriptions for managers and supervisors to spell out job title, reporting to, positions supervised, responsibilities, tasks and measurement of performance

- Task sheets for non-supervisory positions to include their supervisors, tasks, and measurements of performance

These ideas for staffing your startup small business will get you started with options. You may not need full-time employees. There are so many choices. Whatever you do, develop an organizational chart to clearly show reporting and supervisory positions. Then have job descriptions and task sheets so people know what to expect and what's expected from them. These steps will reduce headaches as you grow.

*Note: This was written by a Yahoo! contributor. Do you have a story that you'd like to share? Sign up with the Yahoo! Contributor Network to start publishing your own finance articles.

More from this contributor :

First Person: Small Business and the Challenge of Delegating

First Person: Beware Your Assumptions When Hiring

First Person: Learning to Manage Well Takes Practice, Not Theory


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