By Kirk Waldfogel
Starting and growing a business are always challenges, even without a global pandemic knocking on your door. It often comes down to fostering a delicate balance — a balance between trusting your own passions and abilities while also trusting others to help you bring those passions to life in a functional, scalable way; a balance between expanding into other markets while still staying true to those markets that got you where you are; a balance between work and life itself. Establishing — and properly maintaining — that balance during uncertain times will not only help you successfully start a business but also help you successfully run and grow it.
First and foremost, those setting out on a new venture need to set goals. When we talk about setting goals for any business — new or long-standing — there’s an adage in business to ensure business goals are “SMART;” meaning they are:
Whether you’re working on year-end goals, monthly goals, or other short- and long-term goals, they should be fairly specific but well-rounded enough that you’re improving yourself and the business at the same time — financially, physically, spiritually, and emotionally. Either way, it’s essential to make these goals tangible so that, whether you succeed or fail, you’ll be able to take something away from the experience. As you start to look at what’s working and what isn’t, you’re in the perfect position to start thinking of your goals not only in terms of how you’ll achieve them but also in terms of who can help you get there.
Hire the Right People
Many entrepreneurs, especially those in startup mode, want to hold on to every little aspect of their business, everything from the spending to marketing and implementation to customer experience — you name it. Holding tight onto those reins is a natural reflex, which only increases when times are uncertain. To really position your business as self-sustaining and geared for long-term success, your best first step is to hire the right people for the right roles. If you can’t scale, you won’t grow — and one person can’t scale anything.
As with any business, it’s the people you put in the right places and empower —that’s when the magic happens and you see true success and growth. It’s the keen ability to be that guide — that mentor — that influencer creating an environment to help your business succeed. It won’t matter if it’s one project or ten. Put the right people in the right places and lead the charge.
While it’s incredibly fulfilling to strike a balance between your area expertise and bringing in the right people, it could also be one of your biggest struggles. Partnering and hiring people who are at the top of their fields elevates your trust in them. It can be hard for business owners because you want to touch, review, and advise on every project, but it comes down to what works and what doesn’t. If things aren’t working, address the challenges as they arrive, turning them into open conversations. It’s about measuring success, and it can come in different ways.
Create Teams Within Your Company and with Customers
Once you create the processes and efficiencies to grow and scale your company, it’s the teams within the company that are vital to preserving those efficiencies. Partnerships within the company could — and should — extend well beyond your core marketing and into sales, software, and business development. Plus, it’s always recommended that you consider ways to partner with your customers. Without considering their feedback, you might be providing them a product or service they don’t need or can’t use.
When we first started Model Match, Hammerhouse was already incredibly successful in mortgage recruiting, placing billions of dollars in production in branches across the country. But I wondered how their best practices could be turned into a software solution for recruiting — going beyond the mortgage industry. From a business perspective, we’re providing a solution backed by a proven revenue model. From a technology standpoint, we believe in letting the customers guide the product development. Too often, if you let the development team build the product, you end up with something that it thinks is useful but that the target customer doesn’t want. To mitigate that, we spend an enormous amount of time talking to our customers about our products. The result is that our backlog of product development is driven by the customers’ needs and not by what my team or I might think is the next great tech feature of all time. Understanding and implementing the importance of this dynamic can help expand skill sets and provide industry insight on important aspects of your business.
As an entrepreneur, it’s only natural to take a personal stake in the success of your business. The real secret is to be the business — sharing your passion with customers as well as partners — without becoming the business. When you can create that essential balance, you’re already a few steps ahead. It is that carefully crafted balance that will see you through whatever storm, pandemic, or crisis that may come your way.
5 Ways to Effectively Expand Your Business Through Recruiting
Most companies grow in some combination of two reasons: 1. They want more people to keep up with the capacity of business they’re doing; or 2. They need more people to drive additional business. If you wait until the time you absolutely need to hire, you’re already too late. Recruiting should be part of a consistent, collaborative process that takes a close look at what your company model is, what opportunities match that model, and what predictable process provides shared visibility and collaboration across the entire organization — regardless of market conditions.
If you’re recruiting — which is what all organizations should be doing if they’re growing or simply managing against normal attrition — you should be laser focused on relationship building with top talent so you have the ability to be top of mind when the timing is right. Without some basic and essential principles in place, recruiting can feel more like a chore than a positive way to grow your business. Before you set out to add people to your team, make sure you’re ticking these five boxes first.
1. Who are you?
You have to know who YOU are before you can successfully partner with and retain top talent. A lot of companies don’t think about who they are before they start to think about who they want to partner with. There are exercises companies can and should do first to evaluate who they are as an organization.
2. What do you want?
If you can match your company’s core components to the relationships (recruits) that you’re building, you will be able to more confidently communicate and overcome possible objections. Learn to be the expert of your own value prop, and you find the confidence to communicate from a position of leadership and put yourself in a position to build trust.
3. Have a process
Recruiting and relationship building are processes, not events. The best way to start building the type of collaborative recruiting environment that will really provide value is relatively simple: Have a process — one in which you and other key members of your team are actively involved. If you think you already are, ask yourself these questions first.
4. When something works, scale it
If your company successfully recruits someone from XYZ Company, and there was a specific reason why that person joined you, then everybody else in your company should be able to see how that happened. If they can relate that to their own pipelines, then they can leverage that initial success toward having more success of their own. Utilizing this type of visibility and collaboration also creates efficiency, which saves our most valuable asset — time.
5. Recruit without recruiting
The key to successful recruiting is to stop recruiting. Relationship building is a muscle most already have, and those same skill sets relate to successful recruiting combined with the proper tools and processes. When you start thinking about finding the right people to grow your company, the key is to find some common ground and simply build a relationship. If you do that, and you know your company value proposition backward and forward — as well as your minimum expectations — you’ll get to a point where you can start to bolt those things on to the conversations you’re having.
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