To hire or not to hire… that is the questionJul 30, 2020
Finding the right balance between
One question that many, many business owners wrestle with is when to invest in outside support. Spending money is not something any business owner considers lightly but when does the value of external expertise outweigh the cost and when should you hire and when should you sub-contract?
Most business advisors will say that you should outsource most business functions that are not ‘core’. By that we mean the delivery of the product/ service that your business is set up to do.
For example, if I make shoes then the making of those shoes is my core business. The marketing, customer service, order taking, finance and operations are all non-core. That said however they are still necessary and need to be done properly and professionally.
Most businesses will try and strike a balance between retaining some of these functions in house and outsourcing others to independent experts for whom that service IS their core business. Hiring may be easier to control and sometimes cheaper, however it is less flexible and the depth of knowledge will not necessarily be as great.
Small businesses will not have the resources to hire in-house for every job they need doing. What often happens is that you end up asking people to take on a bunch of different roles. So your account director ends up doubling up as your social media manager and occasional copywriter. Your sales guy teaches himself to use Wordpress and becomes the website manager and you, as business owner, are CMO, CFO, CEO and COO as well as HR lead and general office manager/ tidy upper/ coffee maker and pen orderer.
There comes a point however when the different functions need more focus then this approach can deliver and you start tipping towards jack of all trades, master of none. Then you need to decide on your hiring strategy.
The first thing to ask yourself is what exactly is it that you need to do? Let’s look at marketing for example. Many businesses make the mistake of jumping into hiring a marketing manager before they have really considered what it is that they want marketing to do for them. A good marketing manager is worth their weight in gold but only if they have a clear marketing strategy and business-aligned objectives to follow. On the face of it, a marketing manager feels like a good compromise. You can’t afford a marketing director (and if even if you could you need someone willing to do as well as strategize and plan) and a marketing executive would need too much hand-holding. However, unless someone on the senior team has got strong senior-level experience in marketing this could be a wasted investment because to deliver effectively the marketing manager will need clear direction, expert feedback and someone to learn from.
A better route might be to bring in a senior freelancer part-time for a few months to get under the skin of the business, create an effective marketing strategy and build the right foundations. They can then take on responsibility for hiring the marketing manager (they will know what to look for so are likely to hire better anyway) and then step back to a fractional role of maybe 3 or 4 days a month to keep an experienced hand on the marketing tiller. This might increase your costs slightly in the short to medium term but you are far less likely to waste money on the wrong hire and the wrong tools.
The needs of your business are constantly evolving and so will the skill-sets you require to move your business forward. The idea of bringing experts in to fulfil certain short to medium term requirements - to take you from point A to point B - is not just confined to small businesses. Larger organisations do this all the time - it’s what the entire management consultancy industry is built on. Bringing in outside experts to deliver on a particular objective or project makes sense. It means you are not taking focus away from the core business but neither are you committing to headcount that you can’t really justify at this point in time.
Raising investment is the perfect example of a one-off project where it makes sense to bring in some expert advice. Unless you have worked for a VC, are a serial entrepreneur or an investor yourself the chances are this isn’t something you will have any experience of and even still your knowledge might be limited to one area. On the surface Crowdfunding on a platform might seem relatively straightforward but the reality is the chances of you hitting your target are much higher if you invest in the right support. Most of our clients don’t just meet, they exceed their targets with our support so in this case the old adage that you have to spend money to make money definitely rings true.
Fundamentally the future of your business and the ability for you to take it where you want to go rests on your ability to get the funds to invest. This is far too important for you not to ensure that you have the right help and support on board to achieve it. Whichever fundraising route you decide to go down there will be people who are experts in enabling businesses to find investment. Use them! And if you have decided Crowdfunding is the right route for you… you know where to find us :-)
Emma Sinden, Marketing Director, ISQ Crowdfunding (and one of those freelance fractional types just to prove we take our own advice!)
At ISQ we help business leaders to plan, prepare and launch successful equity-crowdfunding campaigns by coaching and guiding them through a proven, disciplined and structured methodology.