National Cup Cake Week

Start-ups: Hiring Staff (5)

By Mellissa Morgan, aka Ms Cupcake

Most start-up businesses start with one person who has an idea. They work long and exhausting hours and do everything in their ms cupcake shop staff at workpower to ensure their idea comes to fruition. That's how I started - I had an idea to start a luxury vegan baked goods company and I worked very hard to bring it into reality. However, the long and exhausting hours soon took their toll and it became startlingly clear that in order to grow my company I needed help. I needed to hire staff.

But where do you start? Up until now, it had been only me. I invented the recipes, baked the cakes, decorated the cakes, sold the cakes, and everything in between. I needed someone with a certain amount of skill, the ability to work independently and flexibly and almost more importantly I needed someone who I could trust.

I was also filled with fear. I was working from home at the time, so this new staff member would have to be in my living space, wouldn't that be strange? What about my recipes and methods that I had spent years developing? What was stopping them from taking my recipes and opening their own cake company? Then of course the big question - where do I find them? I don't come from a bakery background, so couldn't just call on an old work colleague for help.

Fast forward a year and I now have six fabulous members of staff who have grown alongside me and weathered the many bumps along the way. They are all godsends. I trust each one of them implicitly and I know that they would do anything for me and do everything in their powers to help our company continue to grow. But how have I gotten to this point?

Consider my top tips for hiring staff in a small business:

  • Get in contact with HMRC immediately. You need to register as an Employer and make sure your paperwork is in order.
  • Look for your staff in the right places. I want to find people who are already passionate about my cakes, so I only advertise on my website, Facebook and Twitter sites. Passion can often be more important than experience.
  • Trust your instincts. You have to work alongside this person, you need to like them, but they need to understand that you are their boss.
  • If you pay minimum wage, you will get minimum commitment. By paying a reasonable wage you will have a much smaller turnover rate in terms of staff.
  • Be clear what their duties are to be. If you need them to stand at a mixer and make icing for 8 hours each day, then let them know at the interview. It is really important to weed out the people who think this will be a relaxing job!
  • Identify what jobs you can 'give up' to the other person. It will be very hard to let go at first, but only you are able to decide what responsibilities you are willing to delegate.
  • Don't hire people who say (or you suspect) want to start their own business,why train your future competitors
  • Ensure everyone who works for you signs a contract and a confidentiality agreement.
  • As the company grows, allow long-standing staff to grow with it, they put in the time doing the grunt work, now utilise this experience and train them to manage newer staff members.
  • Instead of hiring one person, consider hiring two. If you were planning on hiring someone to work two days a week for you, why not hire two people to work one day each. This way, if one person doesn't work out, you won't be left with 'no hands on deck'.
  • Realise that no one loves your business as you do. This is their job, not their life.

Sure, I created my business, but by handpicking the right staff members to be a part of it the business has blossomed beyond my dreams. Remember, your staff can be your most important assets or your biggest liabilities. Be rigorous when hiring, pay them a fair wage and always, always treat them like gold.

>> Read part 6