This article was written by YEC member Zev Herman. He is the president of Superior Lighting, specializing in energy efficient lighting design and retrofits.
There are two ways to come into owning a business: You either build a company from the ground up or you acquire a pre-existing company. Both options have pros and cons. For example, if you buy a business that is already established, you can potentially avoid many costs associated with starting from scratch. But either way, as a business owner, you can never escape the hiring process, especially if you want to grow.
One of the best perks about owning your business is choosing who works for you — your best friend from kindergarten or college could be the COO of your company if you really wanted him to be. But, when it comes to hiring new employees and deciding who gets to be a part of your company’s journey and success, you must approach hiring with the bigger picture of your business in mind. Here’s how you can achieve this:
What to do when you buy a business that already has employees
I bought my business in 2008, when it was about 30 years old. It had loyal customers throughout South Florida and a few devoted employees, which made my goal for growing it a little bit easier. My plans involved expanding it by reaching larger markets and introducing new products — and I needed a stellar team to help me do it.
Acquiring a business with employees who are interested in staying on the payroll doesn’t happen for every founder. But it can be a fortunate situation, especially if the employees know a lot about how the business works, what it sells and who it sells to. Don’t let the bigger picture slip away: If you buy a pre-existing business and have employees who want to stay on board, then I recommend giving them an evaluation.
I’ve learned that if you want your business to grow and consequently change, then any existing employees must be willing to grow and change with it. Therefore, after I first acquired my company, I re-interviewed its employees. I wanted to know how they might fit into the larger vision I had and how their skills and knowledge of the business and its products would come into play moving forward. When your employees share the passion you have for what you want your company to become, assimilating to new changes you bring shouldn’t be too difficult.
What to look for when hiring new employees
Whether you are hiring your very first employee or your business has over 100 employees, every person you bring on to your team contributes to its overall success. You want to hire people who can do the jobs you are hiring them to do, but sometimes there are more important qualities than experience and skill.
To me, the best quality an employee can have is a learning attitude. I want to be surrounded by people who know what they’re doing, like what they’re doing and want to improve what they’re doing. But I also realize that I can teach my employees a lot as long as they are willing to learn. Therefore, I encourage business owners to hire employees who want to learn and can bring a good attitude to the workplace.
When you are conducting new hire interviews, just listen. Let the interviewees do most of the talking so you can accurately gauge who they are and how they might fit in with your business. Ask them questions about how they’ve approached unfamiliar projects and new learning opportunities in the past.
How to manage workers new and old
The attitudes your employees bring to work goes hand-in-hand with your approach to leadership. Promote learning and open communication in the workplace by welcoming questions. Don’t isolate yourself from your employees too much or you may not know when there are issues until it’s too late to resolve them.
Furthermore, remember why you are looking to expand your company’s team: You can’t do it all yourself! Perhaps you need to hire someone who can do something you’re not the best at. Maybe you don’t enjoy accounting, or marketing is like a foreign language to you. Well, there are plenty of people out there who do like the tasks you don’t, and you can hire them to join your team.
When it comes to expanding your company’s team and hiring and/or re-hiring employees, it all comes down to this one question: Can they do the job? Have a clear idea of what positions you are looking to fill, and understand what tasks need to be done and the skills required to do them. Only the best fits — for both the job itself as well as the business — will enable you to achieve your visions.