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“A business is only as good as the people who run it.”
In 2021, the ‘hire to fire cycle’ has almost become the norm for recruiting and managing talents in the general startup sphere – especially in the tech space. Formalities with recruitment have declined a lot in the past decade since founders can now pluck employees off proposal charts on freelancing markets – quick interviews, a glance over their past work or samples, rate negotiations, and if the tides are in favor, a “welcome onboard” message.
While this easy process certainly has many advantages, it opens up deep craters for founders to be less intentional about the human resource affairs within their startups. Essentially, most upcoming startups would create HR divisions last, if at all, and it usually turns out to be a penny-wise-pound-foolish decision.
Hanson Cheng, an American entrepreneur, and online business growth expert, attributes a good chunk of the problem to over-delegation. Bottlenecked employees always perform the worst – in and out of office hours.
“One of the top mistakes businesspersons make when implementing systems for their startups is hiring too cheaply,” says Cheng, a Bali-based business scaling and rapid skills acquisition expert.
“It’s okay to hire affordably, but requiring one person to do several things above their skill level becomes a problem too quickly. For example, a founder running a company with sales, marketing, accounting, and administrative departments would hire one virtual assistant and expect them to do everything from outreach and customer correspondence to set up personal appointments. While each of these departments should be managed by different people with distinct roles, a lot of founders just hire the first person out of desperation and assign them everything.”
Delegation sounds quite simple and straightforward, but when things go south, many business owners would prefer to run point themselves – total inefficient use of a founder’s time. Over-delegation leaves the unfortunate employees unable to exert authority properly in the founder’s stead, dredges up confusion regarding responsibilities, and eventually, accountability becomes a facade within the operation.
Cheng is an expert in building workable systems for businesses. To ensure efficiency and reduce bottlenecking within an organization, he specializes in dividing every brand’s operations into smaller, well-defined, and more manageable processes. These processes are then automated as far as possible before being assigned to human managers. Cheng recommends that startup founders identify the “big domino” in their businesses and sort it before anything else.
“What you want to do is to take note of the most time-consuming activity in your schedule as the founder,” says Cheng “We call this the “Big Domino”. What is that one thing that moves the needle the most, so much that when you knock it over, it would affect change in as many other aspects of your operations as possible? Everyone’s big domino is different and you must learn which one creates the highest ripple effect and have it handled at the start.”
There’s a fine line between requiring contracted help for one or more tasks and fully employing talent in your company. A business owner may require a copywriter to draft two articles for their upcoming website. Taking advantage of flash-hiring freelance markets makes total sense in this case – skim through samples, examine profiles, compare rates, and decide the best person for the task.
Hiring a full-time copywriter to handle all or most of your written content needs should require a lot more than just scanning samples and hashing out rates. In this scenario, the first step would be to ensure that this person clearly understands your content requirements as a growing brand. Do they identify with your niche? Any prior experience writing in this sphere? How solid are their research skills? How many hours in a week are they available? Does their writing tone suit your audience’s expectations? An employee intended to be part of a long-term growth process shouldn’t just be randomly plucked off a list of freelancers.
According to Canadian-born business founder and software engineer Michael Peres, hiring the right people for your brand will certainly be time-consuming and mentally exhausting. However, it’s entirely rewarding in the long term when the right people come through.
“Scaling a company can be difficult, primarily because it requires an acute sense of foresight. It’s crucial you invest heart, time and effort in the initial structure of your company, precisely when the differences between “passable” and “perfect” seem meaningless. Any minor flaws in the initial setup of your system will be exponentially compounded when trying to scale. Hindsight is always 20/20, and in order to thrive in a competitive market, planning ahead and focussing on the details makes all the difference”.
If there’s any takeaway from the harsh realities of the pandemic for entrepreneurs, it’s the way remote work evolved so remarkably that location, for the first time in global history, became a low-concern criterion for employment.
Cheng is based in Bali, Indonesia, and has employees and contractors from every region and continent in the world handling major tasks and holding down important roles. He explains that some of his best graphic designers, video editors, and ads specialists are Russians – highly skilled professionals with far more reasonable rates than most US and UK contractors. His top copywriters are fluent African professionals who do not have English as a first language. However, they write so remarkably well that the Natives have no advantage in comparison.
“Before the pandemic, a lot of people were hesitant and possibly scared of hiring talent or building systems with people from overseas,” Cheng explains. “However, the pandemic forced a lot of people to start businesses or maintain existing ones while sitting at home. Resourcefulness became a prerequisite for surviving, and most founders discovered how much more affordable and reliable overseas-sourced services could be. You can find very high-quality work in different countries and regions – no single region has the monopoly of any skill or talent.”
Essentially, the best writers are not always in the United Kingdom, the smartest tech people aren’t always in Asia, and the most versatile administrators aren’t always in the US. You can find talent, skill, dedication, passion, and people willing to grow with your brand in any region of the world. It takes time, but it’s always worth it in the long run.
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