I’m pretty good at picking the right people, and I’m sure the ones we have will grow with us.” (Lesson 2)

If you don’t have the right people, your business is going to struggle to grow – in fact it might struggle even to survive. The trouble is people are the hardest thing to get right, and the hardest to change once you have them. If your marketing plan isn’t working you can rewrite it. If your pricing structure isn’t maximising profit you can fine-tune it. These things, when it comes right down to it, are words on paper. They can be updated, and then you follow the new ones.

People are different. People have their own ideas and a bit of a habit of doing their own thing. As a business owner you need to make sure that their thing is lined up with your thing, which is growing your company. Get that right and your people will be a massive asset – your biggest. Get it wrong and they’ll just slow you down.

The problem is far too many businesses get it wrong. I see this all the time; a company is trying to grow, but it’s being held back because key jobs are filled by the wrong people. Sometimes these employees need to be given some help and training, so they can contribute towards growing the business. Sometimes they’d do better in another job. Unfortunately, sometimes they just aren’t a good fit for the business and it’s best they move on and try something new.

How do the wrong people end up working for you in the first place? This is going to be uncomfortable reading for some, but maybe the biggest source of problems is hiring family or friends. Lots of people do that, because it seems like a safe option. After all, you’re hiring someone you know and trust, right? What could go wrong?

The short answer is, pretty much anything. The only thing that matters when you hire someone is finding the right person for the job. That has to be your top priority – in fact it should be your only priority. If you don’t get the right employee the outcome is going to be bad for both your business and whoever you hire.

Why is it so tempting to fill key positions with friends and relatives? Probably because it’s easy. I already mentioned how convenient it is to hire a person you know and trust, but it’s simple too. Instead of going out to look for someone who suits the job you just choose someone you’re already familiar with.

Unfortunately there’s a big problem with doing this. What are the odds that your friend, cousin or some bloke you’ve been seeing at the pub for years have exactly the skills and attitude you need in that position? Not very high, right?

If it isn’t vital to your business that a position has the right person in it, you need to start asking yourself if you need that position at all. The chances are you do, though; so we’re back to the challenge of finding someone who can do the job the way it needs to be done. That means having a proper recruiting process, and following it strictly – every time.

To your success,