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'Don’t make the same mistakes that I did': Employing People for the First Time

Fri, 08 February 2013

We asked some of our former Shell LiveWIRE winners what their experience was of hiring and managing people as a young business owner and, now all successful companies, what advice they wished they had received then!
Employing people for the first time can be a big challenge for young entrepreneurs just setting up in business. From the complexities of the legal framework on employment to the interpersonal skills required for effective management and training, being someone’s boss is not easy.

We asked some of our former Shell LiveWIRE winners (now all owners of successful companies) what their experience was of hiring and managing people as a young business owner and what advice they wish they had received then!

Here are some snippets from each case study:

Mandy Scott of AA Flags
‘I was 24 when I set up my manufacturing business, and most of the potential employees at the time were older women, who have been machinists all their lives. I could sew, but these ladies have vast experience in the textile industry that I could not dream of equalling. So the saying ‘don’t tell ya granny how to suck eggs’ was appropriate in my case! Explaining how I wanted flags made was awkward at times, as these women had been used to sewing collars on shirts all day every day, and flags require a little attention to detail. They couldn’t understand why they were being asked to slow down!’
Read the full case study here >>>

Andy Mead of The Finishing Line
'A key part of any business plan is the people plan, 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.’
Read the full case study here >>>

Patricia Hay of First Base Employment
‘You can employ the most qualified and experienced candidate but if they don't have the work ethic you're looking for (if they're not on the same page) and if they don't fit with your existing team, they will fail. Obviously there are some sectors whereby skills are compulsory, such as IT or engineering, but in the vast majority of roles, skills can be taught. You can check for someone's base or most significant characteristics using profiling but I find it equally important to get them in to spend time with your team. How do they interact? Gut instinct gained through watching them in this environment and talking to your team will benefit you and the individual. How did they feel? It has to be a two-way thing at this stage. They may well feel as if your organisation doesn't fit them and it’s really important to qualify people in or out at this stage.’
Read the full case study here >>>

For more advice and information, see our section on Employing People in the Business Library.

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