I was in a meeting yesterday attended by small business owners and solo-preneurs. We had so many excellent tangential discussions on marketing, lead generation and advertising as we were going over the primary subject matter, small business finances, taxation and pricing.
One of the things we discussed was how to set your prices, and the factors that influence the price you set, especially in a small community or rural area where reputation is very important and can make or break a business. Setting the right price is vitally important to your business and it can influence the perception of your business. The perception of your business, especially as so much business is spread by word-of-mouth.
After the event I started thinking about something we didn’t really discuss, but would be hugely applicable and is closely related to something we did discuss – perception, reputation and word-of-mouth when it comes to employee experiences at your business and how that can impact your business reputation and ultimately your bottom line.
Certainly most small businesses and entrepreneurs are focused on growth, many with the near or long-term goal of hiring employees. Between now and then many hire casual and part-time labour. But are small business owners, many of whom got into business because they had a passion or skills, also equipped with the leadership knowledge to be good bosses, keeping in mind that your reputation with your employees will spread as quickly and could very well be as damaging in a small, close-knit community, as that with your customers.
We’ve entered a social landscape where people care how a business does business not only with them, but also the other people they work with, such as suppliers and employees. Where communities will come together to condemn a business who mistreats a customer or employee alike.
So what does a small business owner need to know about leadership before they hire their first employee?
You need to know that just like word-of-mouth from customers will spread your reputation and impact the business you’ll do, likewise, your reputation as an employer will get the word out about your business and impact not only your potential to attract future customers, but also your ability to attract future talent and high quality employees.
Here are some more specific factors to consider when hiring, so you can start off on the right foot with your employees and maintain positive labour relations and a good reputation as a great company to work for and do business with:
- Always remember to stay professional and in control of your emotions when dealing with employees;
- Remember that as the employer you have a degree of power over the people who work for you, and with that authority you owe them the responsibility to use it respectfully and effectively, for the good of the business and the employee; also be careful to distinguish what’s necessary for the business with what makes life easy for you and enriches yourself, as this will lead to resentment and dissatisfaction in your employees;
- When you’re getting ready to hire write an accurate job description and stick to it;
- Inform yourself on local labour laws and ensure you’re signed up for the necessary provincial and federal tax and compensation programs;
- Be careful of biases in your hiring process and communicate well and often throughout it;
- Have an initial interview to review the written job description once you make your hire, and go over what your onboarding process looks like and what your probationary period will require;
- Plan your onboarding and training and execute those plans effectively; and
- Gain feedback from your employees and communicate feedback to them.
Overall, just ensure you’re treating your employees with respect and respecting HR best practices and local labour laws. Communicate well and often and be as invested in your employees success and financial well-being as you are in your business’ because the two will go hand and hand.