Hire slow, fire fast – building the right team

Nearly a quarter of businesses fail because they don’t have the right people in key positions. You shouldn’t be in a rush when it comes to hiring staff, says Mark Wright

Successfully scaling a new business can be a precarious undertaking and having the right team in place can make or break your company as you start to scale and grow.

A recent survey from CBInsights that found 23 per cent of start-ups failed because they lacked key talent to run the business, while the business department reported incompetence and lack of management skills as being responsible for 56 per cent of corporate failures.

It’s therefore critical to get the right talent in place to manage growing demand as you start to scale. However, resources are particularly limited in the start-up phase, and with hiring and onboarding new staff being a costly undertaking, it’s important to get it right the first time and ensure that initial investment of both time and capital is best placed.

>See also: Overcoming obstacles to start-up success

Vision and values

It’s important to set out your vision and message for your company and ensure this is retained through every step of your growth and expansion, as your vision and values are the foundation for everything else in your business – including building your team.

As a founder, you want to hire people who are “on the bus” – that is, people who believe in your business, and are there for the ride despite potential challenges. Consistent communication of your message works to establish a team where everyone is pulling together towards a common purpose, while ensuring the overarching goals of the business are being met.

Get this right, and you are more likely to attract those who truly want to be a part of what you’re creating, while turning employees into advocates for your business.

Don’t do it all yourself

Entrepreneurs, especially in the early stages of a business, are used to juggling almost every aspect of their business. As you expand, this is impractical at best, and at worst can severely limit the kind of growth you can achieve.

‘Hiring the right people is a tricky process’

Avoiding the temptation to simply do it all yourself is difficult and requires being willing to hand over an element of control to your team and allowing them to carry out the roles you hired them to do.

Once you’ve established that all-important vision for your company, you must be prepared to put in into the hands of your employees, and move your focus from managing the day-to-day tasks of the business, to managing your team who will take care of the day-to-day for you.

>See also: 5 steps to bolster your business finances

Hire slow, fire fast

Though often misunderstood, the old adage “hire slow, fire fast” can save many new start-ups from potential hiring disasters.

Hiring slow does not mean delaying the hire of new staff until it can no longer be avoided. Instead, it means hiring with intention, and deliberating exactly what you need from a potential hire to fulfil a role, including experience, skillset and their personal attributes. Taking this approach will ensure you plan for the long-term, and don’t make snap hiring decisions based on the immediate issues the business might be facing.

While it might be hard to admit you have made a mistake in the hiring process, when your business is at stake it is necessary to confront these issues head-on, even if it means taking a temporary hit in the short-term, and this is what firing fast means.

Take advantage of the probationary period for new hires, and if you know they are not a fit for the organisation, it’s better to act now to reduce the potential long-term negative effects on your business and your other employees.

It takes time

You cannot build the perfect team for your business overnight and bringing in too many people too soon can quickly create problems – especially without the cash to sustain a rapidly expanding payroll.

It takes patience to build a successful team, so place your focus on acquiring key hires with the critical skill sets your business needs in the early stages. As your organisation starts to develop, hire those with the right management skills to manage your growing team and make scaling much easier further down the line.

Shaping a winning team

Hiring the right people is a tricky process. Establishing clear roles for potential hires will help you find the right people, but this is not enough. To truly unlock the capabilities of those hires, you must shape them into a winning team.

Getting this right will ensure you not only avoid the headache of a high staff turnover but have the structure in place for additional hires as you scale your business.

Mark Wright is a winner of BBC’s The Apprentice and director of digital marketing agency Climb Online

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Mark Wright

Mark Wright is a winner of BBC’s The Apprentice and director of digital marketing agency Climb Online.

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