From babysitters to bookkeepers, it takes a small army of support to keep a mompreneur’s dreams alive. In fact, the mom entrepreneurs I work with who are really doing well—the ones who are running profitable businesses and living the life they want for themselves and their families—are the women who know how to build a team to support themselves. When I started my business as a newlywed, my husband used to tease me with talk of the “empire” I was creating. Being the humble young wife, I brushed him off and deflected my own power by telling him I didn’t want to have a business empire. I only wanted to have a successful and profitable business that would give me the income and flexibility I craved to enjoy life as a mom. He would just roll his eyes and say, “You’ll see…someday.” Fast forward 16 years and three babies later…no, I’m not entering negotiations with Donald Trump, but I am very blessed to be surrounded by faith-filled, brilliant and successful women who in some way support me in my business. From my virtual assistant to my graphic designer, from my housekeeper to my business partner…these women lift me up and inspire me beyond my wildest dreams. And it feels magnificent! But in order to “arrive” at this place of feeling supported, I had to let go of some deep-seated desires for self-reliance. And as my perspective has changed over the years, I’ve been able to observe the patterns of other mom entrepreneurs as they reach that point of letting go. From my own story, and the experiences of my clients, colleagues and friends, I have noticed three common mistakes we moms make when building our support systems in business.
- Waiting too long to hire. By the time we hang up our SuperWoman cape and seek assistance, we are so desperate for help that we can’t think clearly. Many times, hiring before you think you “are ready” actually creates the time and space for you to grow your business.
- Following our heart. While a personal recommendation is helpful, hiring based solely on a referral or an existing relationship without regard for job qualifications is a recipe for disaster.
- Taking work too seriously. It’s important to be professional in hiring help, but it’s even more crucial to be authentic! Make sure you evaluate potential team members in terms of how their personality and work style are a fit.
While I am not a recruiter or hiring professional, I have helped several clients build their support systems, and I’ve learned a few things hiring my own team. (By the way, I use this exact same method in hiring a babysitter, and my sitters have been with me for years!) Finding the right person for the job is a combination of practical knowledge and divine guidance. Here are my personal tips for how to hire with wisdom and grace:
- Spend some time defining your ideal candidate. Not a generic group of people who would be interested in the job, but describe in detail the one person who would be a perfect match. Use your imagination and create the ideal employee! Once you are clear on who you are looking for, it will be much easier to find her.
- Consider where your ideal employee might look for a job. In the classified ads of the local paper? Online? Through her church, family or school? This will help you determine where to search for her.
- Determine what would be most appealing to your ideal employee about your job opening. You might have to ask some people about this one because it isn’t always about the money. Once you know what motivates her, be sure to make that a part of your offer!
Don’t make it too easy for someone to apply for the job. One of the biggest complaints I hear from clients about the hiring process is that it takes so much time to weed through unqualified applicants. So let technology help you do some sorting:
- Establish a dedicated phone number for the job search (you can do this for free with Google Voice). In your Help Wanted ad, instruct applicants to call this number, which rolls directly into voice mail.
- When the applicant calls the dedicated phone number, use the voice mail greeting to instruct them to leave a message telling you why they are the perfect fit for the job. This enables you to hear their voice and assess their communication skills.
- Also, instruct them to send their resume via email to a dedicated email address that goes directly to an assistant or into an email box that you don’t check all day long. This extra step will weed out those who don’t follow direction or don’t pay attention to detail.
- If you have a team member who can sort through the voice mails and emails first, you’ll save some time. If not, then dedicate a specific amount of time to work on this rather than dealing with each call or email as it comes in.
- Schedule your phone interviews or live interviews all on the same day so you can focus on the job search for a chunk of time rather than having one interview each day for a week. Consider a group interview if that is appropriate for the position.
- Determine if there is a way to “test” a candidate on a job function in advance. For example, if you are hiring an administrative assistant, you may want to test her proficiency levels with certain software programs.
- Check referrals. This is a warning from Captain Obvious. But you would be surprised how many people overlook this step. Be sure to ask open-ended questions, like “What did the candidate contribute as a member of the team?” And always ask if the employer would hire the candidate again, given the opportunity.
- Trust your intuition. If you have a gut feeling one way or another, by all means, listen to it! It’s most likely your guardian angel looking out for you, so please give her the opportunity to do her job!
Remember that even the coolest babysitters, the most thorough housekeepers and the most incredibly organized assistants won’t stay with you forever. Your job is to treat them well, believe in them, help them grow and be blessed by their supportive presence in your life. It helps to keep in mind your favorite boss, teacher or coach. Take a lesson from that experience and pay it forward with wisdom and grace. So what are your staffing secrets? Please share with us!