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Moving from solo operator to running a team

Discussion in 'Small Business' started by Simon Hampel, 7th Jun, 2016.

  1. Simon Hampel

    Simon Hampel Founder Staff Member

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    Just wanted to kick start some discussion around making the move from being a solo operator to employing a team of staff. Not after advice - just general discussion.

    Does anyone have any stories to share about the process they went through from starting out as a solo operator in their business to growing their team?

    Where did you start?
    What type of people did you employ first?
    What were the challenges you faced?
    Where did you find your staff?
     
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  2. Bran

    Bran Well-Known Member

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    Interestingly, I just fired my team yesterday, and start afresh in a month. I'm looking forward to people who are willing to grow with my business instead of holding me back with their own superimposed protocols.
     
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  3. Bayview

    Bayview Well-Known Member

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    My first stint at employing anyone was as a Golf Pro running a proshop (did this at two different locations).

    I have found that getting young folks who may not have the experience, who you can train to do things your way; was good.

    Of course; there are certain industries where the staff need to have some training, so the balance of younger with experience is harder to find.

    Not saying older folks aren't valuable, but the training of the them for the systems you want to implement may be a bit harder, because folks can get "set in their ways" a bit more.

    Worth keeping in mind, but at the end of the day it is a case by case evaluation.

    Another point; always be thinking oif the Staff's welfare to get the best out of your Staff in terms of productivity, punctuality and loyalty. It is no guarantee, but it definitely helps.

    Not everyone is there for the paycheck as their no.1 motivation.

    Good luck
     
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  4. MTR

    MTR Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Sim
    good post

    looking forward to responses, as we have just set up business.:)

    MTR
     
  5. Ace in the Hole

    Ace in the Hole Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Got a business coach and did what he told me.
    Trying to work this stuff out yourself is slow and often results in more mistakes and setbacks.
    Leverage off what's worked for others.
     
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  6. larrylarry

    larrylarry Well-Known Member

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    I employed one through LinkedIn. Poaching you may say. I look for specific quality such as integrity, honesty and host of others. I place less emphasis on skills as these can be learned.

    I employed another for specific skillset which compliments the team.

    Informal interviews are my preference... Over a cup of coffee and let their guards down. Skilfully cross examine them without them feeling the heat in the witness box.

    Informal meetup with people in the profession that I might one day need their expertise.
     
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  7. Xenia

    Xenia Adelaide Property Manager Business Member

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    I find that it's all hands on deck for me and staff while we are going through another growth phase. For about 6 months to a year, there usually isn't enough profit to create another full time job but too much work for the people there.

    I have a dedicated team that are focused on the job and results and on board with my mission statement for the company.

    We push through until there is enough growth to create another position then everyone relaxes again. ... Until the next growth phase where it's all hands on deck again.

    I believe in continuous growth not comfort - there are new systems to write and new rules to make with each growth phase and we also focus on introducing other services as client base grows.

    We are at a growth phase right now and aiming to add more full time positions at a kpi of 300 rentals. Until then my staff are working their butts off.

    This happens in every business.

    Initially however I used start up capital to fund the business and hire staff which launched the growth.
    If I didn't do that we would have been a very small company working from home.
     
  8. chindonly

    chindonly Well-Known Member

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    Hire for attitude - you can always teach the skills.

    Hire slow and fire fast. Take your time in selecting the right people, or it can end in a lot of pain.
     
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  9. Simon Hampel

    Simon Hampel Founder Staff Member

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    That's why I asked - looking to leverage what's worked for others and help other people do the same.
     
  10. MTR

    MTR Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Curious, how many people do you employ?
     
  11. Ace in the Hole

    Ace in the Hole Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Well there's a whole procedure to it.
    From writing the ads to screening and evaluating, to the induction process and beyond.
    Could write a small book on it.
     
  12. Simon Hampel

    Simon Hampel Founder Staff Member

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    Not particularly looking for aphorisms - I'm looking for people to tell their stories and share their experience.
     
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  13. Simon Hampel

    Simon Hampel Founder Staff Member

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    Not that interested in the technical side or details of actually hiring people at this point - more curious to know about the state of your business before you hired people, what motivated you to hire, what type of people you looked for, where you looked for them, how the change from solo operator to manager impacted on what you do day-to-day, how you budgeted for staffing costs, etc.
     
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  14. RPI

    RPI Property Lawyer, Town Planner Business Member

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    ^ This x 100

    Chind is on the money. You just can't teach attitude.

    If they are young uns then I also always use an extra curricular activity as a filter

    As in, if they have not
    played competitive sport;
    danced;
    played an instrument; or
    some sort of longer term extra curricular activity.

    Then they don't make my shortlist. Any of the 4 above indicates someone should
    - set goals
    - work hard
    - commit to difficult tasks
    - not need instant reward
    etc etc

    By no means definitive but when you have an entry level job the volume of applicants are enormous.

    My worst hires have always had
    - an outstanding academic record
    - no history of working a crappy job

    So your graduate with honours that was supported by the parents through uni and didn't have to work will not normally do well in the workplace.
     
  15. Xenia

    Xenia Adelaide Property Manager Business Member

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    4 staff members at the moment plus myself for property management.
     
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  16. RPI

    RPI Property Lawyer, Town Planner Business Member

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    There is only 1 of you.

    Reason to Hire
    How much money do you make
    1. spending an hour on gaining a new client;
    2. spending an hour on doing your technically difficult bit.

    When to Hire
    Can employing someone be an almost instantly cashflow positive situations because of the time it frees you up to do more of above?

    Have you thought about outsourcing to start with? I have previously employed people full time in the Phillipines. When I grew more and could afford it I then hired Australians instead.

    A virual assistant working full time only for you from home ( I don't recommend part time) costs about $200 per week.
    Then if you move to a staff leasing model (they work only for you but in an office of a provider with their computer and is co managed) $300 - $500 a week.

    The best thing about outsourcing is it absolutely will not work unless you systemise everything they need to do. Use project management software like ASANA, time tracking software like HARVEST and you can develop procedures and systems for all the tasks you need done in your business and know how long those take. You can an employ an Aussie to do a job and not have it systemised and they will normally do okay, but it can take a lot more supervision and be no where as efficient as it could be.

    I think we Australians have a natural inclination to be busy, look busy etc. Someone can easily fill their time in a 40 hour week in your business, how many of those hours are necessary and productive is a whole other question. The bigger you get the easier it is to have busy people filling time.
     
  17. Ace in the Hole

    Ace in the Hole Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Our first employee was out of necessity, purely to assist with labor.
    Wife and I were making a half mil in income after just a year in biz, but killing ourselves physically. I figured we could squeeze another mil out of it before burning out and giving it up, or make the big uneasy jump at the time of employing others to help with the workload and drag out more long term profits.
    10 years later up to 8 employees and making more money, but just cruising now and still growing.
    Just thinking about how hard I used to work back then makes me feel tired, it was super hard work starting out.
    Budgeting for staff was never an issue, have always been highly profitable from day 1 as costs have always been kept minimal, and continues to this day.

    Best part of all is not just the fantastic profits we've made over the last decade, but the fact we built a biz from nothing and can now sell it for a nice amount leading into retirement.
    It would be much more difficult selling a biz with no employees and the val would be much lower.
     
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  18. RPI

    RPI Property Lawyer, Town Planner Business Member

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    Chind is very experienced and employs a lot of people. He was being succinct but what he said would be based on his experience.
     
  19. MikeLivingTheDream

    MikeLivingTheDream BCOM MCOM MTAX CPA CTA Registered Tax Agent

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    RPI

    i have been involved in the outsourcing industry for some time now both for current clients in various types of industries and also for accounting firms seeking low level processing staff and admin functions e.g. asic company lodgement management etc.

    its a reality of life now. its like saying dont use a dishwasher as that takes away a job. the reality is a lot of the work being done by the teams ive employed do work which australian people hate e.g processing bank statement entries and the staff end up doing low level work which can easily be done elsewhere when you could have them doing much higher level value work. outsourcing isnt just about cost its also about freeing up your team to focus on high level value added work, marketing, strategic work etc

    i am managing a team of people now for various types of industries and client types and it works well if inplemented properly. if not done properly the results will be poor. i think it is critical you see the outsourced person as a member of your team just working elsewhere. build them, work with them, train them and reward them and the results can allow you to free up time for so many other things.

    speaking to a few brokers on this same forum the basic hack work for many of their work is also outsourced to the philippines. note i have no team members working on their accounts.
     
    Last edited: 7th Jun, 2016
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  20. DaveM

    DaveM Adelaide Buyers Agent & KFC Strategist Business Member

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    Biggest change for me was to let go of "my clients" and allow them to become "our clients", and trusting staff to do the right thing within the boundaries of their role. You do 70-80 hours a week while staff twiddle their thumbs and get the scraps that you cant do while you burn out.

    Not always successful but now have the right team and people.
     
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