Case Study: Andy Mead (The Finishing Line)
Andy Mead was in the UK Finals for the 1988 Shell LiveWIRE Awards with
his business, The Finishing Line. Here he gives some advice on employing
people as a young entrepreneur.
Employing someone because they’re there rather than because they have the right skills and attributes to do the job is an easy mistake for a young entrepreneur to make. As your dream starts to take shape, there comes a point when you have to think about employing staff and often you come across a friend, a friend of a friend or even a family member who is willing and able get started right away. Beware, don’t make the same mistakes that I did, get it wrong and your relationship suffers and so does your business.
My business plans always start in my head but it’s important to get them out onto paper as quickly as possible, only then can you start to think properly about the skills that will be needed in order to grow. You’ll also be able to consider what your values are and the type of person you need to find.
A key part of any business plan is the people plan, the difference between any business is its people so don’t miss the opportunity to get it right from the very beginning. Detailed job descriptions with a clear measurable purpose are great tools. Invest time right from the beginning to develop a structure where people know what is expected of them and what success looks like and you’re on your way to the culture that you want. It’s great to have a friendly environment but as the old saying goes, familiarity can breed contempt so start the way you want to carry on. Get it right and you won’t be small for long so get it right from the beginning.
Training is invaluable but don’t train for the sake of it, make sure it’s linked to your business objectives. Once you’ve got your business plan, job descriptions and people in place you can start to identify any skills gaps. Now it’s time to produce development plans with your staff but don’t just write one and hand it over. Draft the development plan with your employee, explain why you think development is needed and how it will have an impact of the business. Explain that it’s not a punishment and that you want to invest in them. Communication is the key, always involve the key people wherever possible. While I’m on the subject of training, don’t forget yourself, as an entrepreneur I love to learn and I never miss the opportunity to do so. Nowadays there are plenty of offers to attend free government backed training courses, find the ones that meet your training needs and get on them. It’s important to know your own strengths and weaknesses as well as those who work for you.
Of course, a lot of people are put off employing staff because of the increasing burden of employment law but you shouldn’t let that hold you back. That’s another reason why your own training and development is important. You don’t have to be a trained lawyer but having a good basic knowledge is vital.
Consistency is very important, in order to gain your staff’s respect it helps if you’re consistent in how you deal with them. As the leader of the organisation don’t under estimate the effect you can have on staff morale by walking into the office with a miserable face. Even when you’ve had a bad start to your day don’t let that reflect onto your staff, smile be happy!