Being exhausted from working around the clock driving your business forward can actually be a good thing. Despite the bags under your eyes, the gravelly voice, and potential spontaneous hair loss, all that stress can serve as a signal that your business has advanced to the point where it’s time to hire some help. As tempting as it can be to continue to assume all the responsibility for your company and reap all the financial benefits as well, it may actually be more profitable in the long term to surrender some of the immediate dividends and take back some of your days.
There are two basic paths to take when hiring someone:
The first, and most obvious is to hire an assistant. Any business has mundane components, or a series of tedious small jobs, that are seemingly unrelated to the main focus of the company. They include everything from answering telephones, sending out emails, filing, billing, laundry, getting coffee, etc. When hiring someone to handle all the jobs you don’t want to do, the goal is often to find someone who’s driven, pays attention to detail, doesn’t sleep, and is willing to work for less than they’re worth.
This method of hiring, especially at such an early stage in the growth of your company, is akin to exploitation and will further limit the growth of your company. The types of people who will end up working for you are those that simply need a job. The kind of employee you should be looking for is one who wants to work for you, not one who is putting themselves in a position of indentured servitude. The reason for the drawbacks with this method of hiring is due to the fact that it means that all the jobs in the company are accounted for. It might be effective to get by on a day-to-day basis, but a ceiling is reached the minute your employee becomes truly effective at their job. The net result will be a former employee who uses their experience at your company as a means to get a job that’s more meaningful to them.
The second method to hiring is to find a partner. Anyone who has seen Derek Sivers’ riveting TED talk from 2010 about how to start a movement knows that as the leader you’ll get all the credit, but the true catalyst to starting a movement is the involvement and commitment of your first followers. As Sivers points out, it’s important to embrace your first few followers, or employees in this case, as equals. When things began, you may have been the very embodiment of the company, but by embracing your first employees as equals, the focus now becomes the company and not the individual roles that are being filled within it. Suddenly, instead of all the jobs in the company being accounted for by you and your various assistants, new jobs are being born through the cooperation and vision of your close circle of followers.
So what is the key to finding a great partner?
The real trick to finding a great partner is to position oneself within reach of people that are like you, but with complimentary skills. For example, an audio professional might want to align themselves with an expert in film and video where suddenly you have a production company capable of offering an array of services instead of focusing on just one. It’s also important that they be at the same relative stage in their career so that you can both grow together without one feeling like they are dragging the other. And finally, your partners should hold the same core values when it comes to what they feel is important for the company to thrive – citing artistic differences as the cause of the destruction of a promising union has almost become cliché.
The very last thing to consider is how you attract the right people to your business. It’s important, regardless of the channels you use to draw attention to your company, that in the job description it clearly indicates that candidates will be immediately positioned at the same level, and be performing the same duties, as the founder of the company. Be forthright about your own abilities, your goals, and your expectations and make it clear to the people you decide to interview that their involvement in the company represents an opportunity to be a part of something that has the potential for real growth.