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It Starts With People

Having a great idea for a business isn’t enough to guarantee that you’ll have a great business. Even taking that idea and incorporating it into a great businessplan still isn’t enough to guarantee that you’ll have a great business. The good news is that the factor that will turn your good business into a great business is completely under your control. So what is this magic ingredient? People.

If you want to realise the potential of your business, you need to have the right people in place throughout. Now this is true no matter what size you are, but it’s particularly important in SMEs, where every person has to pull their weight day in, day out.

How can you tell if someone is right (or not) for your business? Well, you know what your company needs specifically, but, in general, you need to look for two thing: talent and culture.

First of all, is the prospective employee good at their profession? If you’re hiring a designer then look at their work. Do you like it? Do other people like it? Or if you’re looking for a salesperson, then do prospective employees have good track records? Do they already have an idea of what needs to be done to sell yourproducts? And don’t fall into the trap of thinking that experience makes for the best candidate. Yes, sometimes you need someone accomplished and experienced who can come into your company and start doing exactly what needs to be done, but don’t discount people who might need a little training to do what you really need them to do, because there is nothing that stops those people being as talented – or maybe even more – at the job as people who have done it for longer.

The second factor is just as important, if not more important, than talent, but it doesn’t get the attention it needs. As an SME, you need to be hiring people who fit with the culture of your company. Now what that looks like will vary from business to business. For some businesses, your needs mean that you need people who are willing to work difficult hours. For others, you need someone who has a broad skillset and who is willing to take on more varied responsibilities should the need arise. For some others, you might need people who are good at taking criticism on the chin and working with it – or maybe you need someone capable of giving criticism, of being the one who isn’t afraid to say when something isn’t working.

Your company’s culture is unique – a combination of the ethos that has been instilled from the start and is part of how you work, and the personalities of the people that already work there. If you want to turn your good business into a great business, you need people who not only work well, but who work well with the people that already work for you.

So what does all of this look like practically? Well, hopefully your business is already pretty good at spotting talent. If not, then it might be worth focusing more on people’s qualifications, existing work, and track records during the recruitment process. But assuming that you’re good enough at that already, how do you go about finding people that meet your culture?

Perhaps you could talk to people who know them about what they’re like as a person. Maybe you could get some of your other employees in on the recruitment process to chat to candidates and see what they think. Or maybe you could even take the more practical step of inviting candidates in for a day or half a day to do the kinds of tasks that you would have for them and to see how they actually fit into your normal working environment.

As with the culture itself, the process of working out who fits and who doesn’t will change from company to company, but whatever it looks like for you, it’s worth paying attention to. You need to find those people who will just get whatever it is that you’re trying to achieve, and who not only have the talent to help you towards that goal, but who fit your culture in such a way that they pull everyone else along with them.

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