7 things you’ll have to get used to as your business grows
1. Sometimes you’ll hire the wrong person
Most of the time you’ll hire the right person. But sometimes, you’ll hire the wrong one and that’s normal.
When you have 40 employees, one bad hire doesn’t have the same impact as when you have 10. You could strive to be 100% right all the time and be super conservative when it comes to hiring, but it will only slow you down. Just hire the best candidate and be willing to take a risk once in awhile on ones that don’t fit the mold but you think would be beyond great.
Sometimes you’ll hire the wrong person. Sometimes you’ll let the right person get away. Don’t beat yourself up. You will learn from both situations. In my experience, great hiring managers can be wrong 30% of the time. That’s fine as long as you identify where the error occurred and fix it quickly. - John Ciancutti, VP at Netflix
2. Hire interns
Small companies don’t have the resources to train interns, but once you start to grow, they are very helpful for several reasons:
- You can give them low-level work, which saves time for your team
- Interns help you develop leaders. In growing companies, people with no management experience get promoted fairly quickly so they need someone to practice their management skills on. Plus, people will stay more focused because they don’t want to look lazy in front of their interns.
- You’re always going to need talent and the best way to have it is to develop it in-house.
Be sure to pay your interns so they want to work for you and you can attract the best. Interns who are applying for paid positions are generally good enough that they can land a paid position and they are incentivized to actually care about work.
3. Have a career plan for your hires
Once you hire someone, you need to have a solid career path for them, in writing. People won’t feel motivated to work hard unless you show them how much they can grow. You should have a document that outlines the different levels of employment as well as provide examples of what someone needs to do to get from one level to the next.
4. Get used to laying people off
When you’re small (10-20 people), everyone knows each other very well and employees feel like a family - and you don’t fire family. Everyone is in it together and your businesses either works or it doesn’t. But as company grows, rules change.
A company changes from being a tight-knit team, battling for success against all odds, to a big company with hierarchy, titles, finances, lawyers, growth plans, quarterly reports, regulatory compliances, etc. Employees no longer feel like a part of the family unless you build your company around that value, in which case, you’ll slow down growth.
Netflix for example doesn’t build its company around family but team:
“We’re a team, not a family. Netflix leaders hire, develop and cut smartly, so we have stars in every position.”
People will come and go all the time. So growing companies need to constantly be in hiring mode and keep their talent pipeline full. Don’t wait until someone leaves to put up a job ad, because by that point, you’ll already be behind schedule.
5. Even founders become replaceable
As the company gains momentum, it becomes bigger than any individual. Slowly, people start to adjust around the company. This goes too for the founder, who slowly loses the power to shape the company according to their vision. If the founder isn’t careful, they can even be fired from the company they started.
In smaller companies, when founder-CEOs do really well, they’re going to be replaced with an individual skilled to manage the growth. It’s a lose-lose position for startup founders: if they perform poorly they’re out, and if they perform very well, they’re out. It is precisely their success that has increased the need to replace them at this point. - Noam Wasserman, a professor at Harvard Business School
6. Plan your talent needs in advance
Keep in mind that the bigger your company gets, the longer you’ll need to fill an open vacancy. When you’re small, you do all hiring yourself so you can move fast. The minute you get a resume, you can call the candidate and hire them if they’re the right fit. But growth introduces processes and they take time.
You’ll typically need 2-3 months to hire someone:
- 2-3 weeks for the position to be posted online
- 1 week for sorting applications, sending them to hiring managers, and waiting for answer
- 1 week for phone screening
- 1 week for skill challenge
- 1 week for scheduling interviews when both the candidates and hiring manager can available
- 2 weeks for interviews and offering the job
7. Be aware of the talent market
Keep in mind that specialists, who you’re going to start needing more and more, operate under different market conditions than you’ve been used to.
Specialists will either be harder or easier to find, depending on your ability to find them. Plus, they cost more and have a number of options so you’ll need to woo them.
The age of candidates matters. Talent in its forties is very expensive. But young talent will be cheap as long as the work is challenging. But once young talent gathers skills and experience, you will need to pay them the market rate.
At this point, you can part ways with and look for new young talent, or promote them, depending on your processes and needs.
Other posts in the series on growing a business
- Part 1: Why entrepreneurs burn out
- Part 2: How to make sure your business can grow
- Part 3: How companies grow and die (Adizes lifecycle)
- Part 4: Setting up a self running business
- Part 5: Introducing processes
- Part 6: Staying relevant
- Part 7: Staying profitable
- Part 8: How management changes (Greiner's growth model)
- Part 9: When to hire first project manager
- Part 10: A practical approach to risk management
- Part 11: Identifying key players
- Part 12: What happens when a key player leaves
- Part 13: Leadership pipeline
- Part 14: When to hire first HR manager
- Part 15: Contractor vs full-time employee
- Part 16: Hiring process for growing businesses
- Part 17: How and where to find talented employees
- Part 17: Hiring advice for growing businesses
- Part 18: Systematic onboarding
- Part 19: Avoiding toxic workers
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