When you started your business you dreamed of creating and serving food, hearing the hustle of a salon or the quiet of a spa, or seeing patients in your very own office. Then you had to hire people, file for licenses, fix a leaky faucet, design your website, plan your office, install IT systems and now you find yourself not doing what you really love. And wasn’t that the point?

I’ve read a ton of articles and spoken to a lot of small business owners and there are a couple of pain points everyone agrees on. It’s exhausting and it’s overwhelming.

As a small business owner you are CEO, CFO, COO, IT, maintenance, receptionist, marketing, etc., etc. It can feel overwhelming. Whether you are just starting out or are at a point where your business is taking off but you’re not ready to take on another employee – what do you do?

The goal is to do what you do best and like to do. If you don’t like to do something, then you tend to put it at the bottom of the list – like me doing laundry, I wait until someone is screaming they don’t have any clean socks. But what if the task you like the least is extremely important like filing your annual business license forms or posting products on your Facebook account to draw in more customers? What if you want to upgrade your salon or office space, but have no idea where to start? Then you need to outsource.

Outsourcing can be a very scary decision. It can feel like you’re giving up some control over your business. But do you have a choice? How much money are you losing by not seeing clients or not growing your business because you’re drowning in administrative work?

First, determine your pain point. What is the task that gives you the most pain? Whether that’s because you hate doing it, you don’t feel like that’s your strength, or you’re simply running out of time in the day.

Second, is your pain point a short term issue? or a long term issue? If short term – then find a temporary employee or consultant that can help you get over the hump. If it’s long term – then you need to determine if this is a task to be outsourced or hire a permanent employee.

Third, sit down and outline what you need help with. Be specific where you can – need help setting up my new POS system or creating business social media pages. Be general if necessary – I need help determining if I need a new POS system and then researching which one is right for me or I need help creating a social media / marketing plan.

Fourth, don’t be afraid to move forward, DO be cautious when interviewing consultants or employees. Be sure to have a predetermined list of interview questions. Know what tasks you want them to handle for you. Outline your expectations including hours needed, communication methods, code of conduct (for both employees and consultants). If you are hiring a consultant, include when reports and summaries are due, an out clause for both of you and who owns the work.

That last part may seem strange, but some companies will cite work product is owned by them even if being performed for you. So if you have them create an HR manual, marketing collateral, policies or procedures – make sure everything is owned by you and they must give you electronic editable copies of all work completed.

If you’re not sure of how to tackle this task or this just seems overwhelming, then brainstorm with friends, speak to someone in your local chamber of commerce, other entrepreneurs or a business consultant that’s willing to do a free consultation.

The important thing to remember is, do you want to run your business? Or do you want it running you?

Hate hiring new employees? Not sure what questions to ask to ensure the candidate will be a good fit for your company? I’ve been interviewing and hiring employees for over 20 years in entry level, supervisory and director positions. What I’ve learned is that past jobs don’t equate to success to a new job. Behaviors, skills and attitudes do. Of course, if you’re hiring a doctor or a pilot, then they need very specific training, but for the rest of us it may be more important to focus on attitudes towards teamwork, the ability to think critically and adapt to change.

What is behavioral interviewing? The concept that past behaviors and outcomes are a more accurate prediction of future outcomes. It’s more than just asking open ended questions, it’s about investigating to determine someone’s mindset.

First, be sure that you understand what you’re looking for in a new employee. What are the required duties? Is there a base educational or previous work experience requirement? What attitudes or skills are necessary? What knowledge does an employee already need to have versus what can you, and are you, willing to teach them?

Second, write open ended questions in advance that require a candidate to explain a situation, what action they took and what the outcome was. This is important to keep you on track and make sure you cover all aspects of the job you’re hiring for such as customer service, decision making, prioritization of duties. It’s also important as you interview multiple people to ensure you are comparing the candidates based on the same set of questions.

When a candidate comes in for the interview, introduce yourself and your title. Ask a few questions about their job history perhaps gaps in employment or reasons for leaving. Do not start giving to much information about the company or the job they are interviewing for – you will very likely give them clues on how you want them to answer the interview questions.

For example, if you say we pride ourselves on customer service and getting back to our customers within 8 business hours and then ask a question on customer service and how they best communicate, if they were paying attention, they most likely will echo you back.

To warm up the interview, ask the candidate what attracted them to the company or the particular job. Share with them, how long you’ve been at the company and what your overall responsibilities are. Don’t go over the job description, they should have done their homework in advance if they really want the job.

Then begin asking your questions. Below are a few examples.

Initiative: Describe a time when you were unmotivated to get a job done. How did you complete the project?

Teamwork: Give an example of when you had to work with someone who was difficult to get along with. Why was this person difficult? How did you handle interactions with that person?

Planning and organization: Describe a time at work where you had to juggle several projects at the same time. How did you organize your time?

Customer service: Tell me about a recent situation in which you had to deal with a very upset customer or client. Were you able to retain their business?

Adaptability / problem solving: Recall a time from your work experience when your manager or supervisor was unavailable when a problem arose. What was the nature of the problem? How did you handle that situation? How did that make you feel?

Make sure you take notes while the candidate is talking. What action did the candidate take? How did they handle the situation? Did they achieve the outcome they wanted? If the outcome wasn’t what they hoped it would be, then follow up with what they learned from that experience and what they would change in the future.

One of my favorite questions and typically the one I ask last is, what do you expect from your manager? The answer is really based on you or whoever the candidate will be reporting to. If you’re hiring for a micro manager, then don’t hire someone that thrives on autonomy. On the other hand, if you have a macro manager that is there to simply support and randomly check-in, don’t hire someone that needs a lot of guidance or encouragement.

Towards the end of the interview you can either give more information about the company and the job or simply ask the candidate what questions they have and see if they are interested or if they did any homework before the interview.

In my experience, you can teach employees how to perform the job you are hiring them for. You cannot however change their work ethic or their ability to learn and change. Questions? Contact me at sharice@CreativeBiznessSolutions.com.