As an entrepreneur, you probably know by now you’re comfortable working with big-picture scenarios. You’ve got the drive, creativity, and inventiveness to pursue a new idea no one else has before.
But how are you with the details?
Because when it’s time to bring a new idea to life, it’s all about the details and your capacity to manage them.
Don’t worry if this doesn’t feel natural to you. With the right planning, you can learn how to set up business operations like a pro, so you can stay focused on all that big-picture thinking you love.
If you do consider yourself someone who enjoys digging into the details, this guide will help you dive even deeper into building and maintaining operational plans so you can continue growing in your skillset as a leader and manager.
Establishing business processes
Operating a business primarily means building a team of people around you to support business functions. This frees up your time to focus on the most important aspects of your small business.
To operate effectively, you need each of the following processes in your back pocket, no matter what type of organization you run:
- An employee handbook: A one-stop-shop for company policies, processes, and rules. Your new hires will use this to learn about your company values, expectations, and legal obligations.
- Key performance indicators (KPIs): These help you understand what efforts are effective and which ones aren’t. Your KPIs should be quantifiable, easy to understand, and scalable.
- Service Level Agreements (SLAs): Contracts for clear communication about the scope of the work owed and the results you expect from external vendors. If written correctly, SLAs give you standing to pursue legal action if terms aren’t fulfilled.
- Operating Level Agreements (OLAs): An essential resource for communicating your expectations to internal staff. The goal is to help staff understand their roles and motivate them to succeed.
Set up your business processes like a pro by using pre-designed templates and checklists, all contained within our handy guide.
Preparing to hire
People are attracted to work for businesses that are well organized and communicate clearly. If designed well, your approach to hiring can help you attract higher quality candidates over time, with less effort and money spent.
Does that sound too good to be true? It is if you don’t put in the leg work up front.
Before you can benefit from these advantages, you’ll need to put together a well thought-out hiring roadmap. A hiring roadmap helps you figure out the positions you need to hire for and when you need to hire for them.
We recommend the following steps to create your hiring roadmap:
- Line up your business objectives with your hiring needs. Start the process by figuring out which of your objectives needs human resources right away. Keep notes about what you’ll need to hire for later on.
- Define the types of talent you need. Next, you’ll need to define the specific roles to hire for. You’ll also need to consider the overhead positions that become essential as your team scales, such as human resources, operations, and finance.
- Create a budget. Do your research on the average salaries for your talent needs in Eastern Kentucky. Websites such as Glassdoor and ZipRecruiter can give you a feel for average salaries based on job title and location.
- Write job descriptions. This should include a summary of responsibilities, required tasks, KPIs, and who the employee will supervise and report to. List the education, training, and experience requirements for the position. Many employers also show a salary range and benefits when they list job descriptions online.
- Create a hiring timeframe. While you might need these hires ASAP, the reality is that hiring takes time. Allow yourself 2-3 months from listing a job to finalizing a new hire.
Not all roles need to be full-time positions. You can look to colleges and universities in your area to source talent eager to gain experience.
Hiring the best and brightest staff
Hiring is one of the most important things you’ll do as a business owner.
Your people can make or break your opportunities to succeed.
Investing in the recruitment process will pay you dividends, because hiring and firing costs time and money. Employee turnover may cost you 30-50% of an entry-level yearly salary or up to 150% for a leadership-level role.
It also costs precious time and resources for training and onboarding.
Employee retention improves productivity, revenue, and customer service. The best way to hire and retain an all-star team is to have an excellent process to guide recruitment from start to finish.
We recommend listing your job opportunities online.
When designing your candidate application form, keep in mind the types of information you want to know about prospective hires. It’s standard to ask for a resume, a cover letter summarizing their experience and qualifications, and 2-3 professional references.
Don’t forget to take advantage of LinkedIn.
You can use it to find great-fit candidates. And it’s an easy way to see red flags in prospective hires. These may include inconsistencies in dates of hire or responsibilities, or lengthy employment gaps that aren’t explained.
Recruiting takes time.
While hiring is absolutely critical to your business, it’s certainly not your only priority. You might want to consider working with a staffing agency so you can focus on other areas of your work. Just know this convenience will come at a cost.
Conducting effective interviews
From here, it’s time to take all your hard work and preparations and put them into practice with a highly-effective interview process.
Start by defining your hiring team and criteria for the role.
Make sure your team gets on the same page about what you need from this new hire. Next, send out a pre-screening email with a few questions for the candidate.
Reiterate your requirements.
After you review this information, you’ll need to conduct a 30-60 minute phone screen that confirms the information in a candidate’s application and pre-screening questionnaire. If a candidate provides impressive answers to your questions, you can include the person in the next round of interviews.
If not, you can provide a rejection letter out of courtesy for the time spent.
From here, you’ll want to ask your most qualified candidates to participate in an in-person interview. Interviewers can use these questions as a foundation for the discussion. If you’re having trouble making a decision, providing a candidate assignment can help you get a more practical feel for their capabilities.
Your last step is to close the deal with an offer letter.
It’s important to craft it with consideration to the law, especially by including language that Kentucky is an employment-at-will state. This helps avoid the problem of becoming contractually required to pay a terminated employee.
Retaining excellent employees
By now, you know you want to make the most of all your efforts that go into hiring.
Your best chance of retaining your investment in hiring is by having a strong training and onboarding program. If you do, you’ll increase employee retention by 82%.
While a small mountain of paperwork is inevitable, your training and onboarding program should be people-focused. Give your new hires the chance to connect with their teammates early and often. Provide plenty of structure to guide them through the process.
While many companies only offer seven days for orientation and onboarding (if at all), the best programs last between 30 to 90 days.
Create a week-by-week training and onboarding plan that details your expectations from a new hire. This includes facilitating introductions, setting up recurring 1:1 meetings with their supervisor, reviewing their KPIs and OLAs, and setting up their technology accounts.
Conclusion: The foolproof way to operate your business
To design a world-class training and onboarding program, and to follow through with all the helpful tips you just read, download The Complete Guide to Entrepreneurship in Eastern Kentucky.
Part 4 of this free resource covers operating best practices in depth for growing small businesses in our region. You’ll get practical checklists, templates, and access to local resources.
Every entrepreneur knows they can’t scale their small business without more hands to help. What they don’t always know is the best way to do it.
We’ve got you covered.