By Jennie Wong
The Charlotte Observer (MCT)
As your business grows, so will your team. How do you find great employees without spending a fortune?
Good people tend to be expensive. If someone is willing to work cheap, there’s probably a reason for that. The trick is to find staffers that are affordable for the right reasons.
TRAIN YOUR OWN: One time-tested way to bring affordable talent into your small or medium business is to hire for potential and do your own training. This requires you to invest extra time and effort into teaching and developing someone who has little to no experience in the job. But there are several advantages to this, in addition to the price tag.
Starting with a blank slate allows you to indoctrinate your employee with your company’s processes and protocols. And you can more accurately estimate the training time required to bring that person up to speed. With a newbie, you know upfront that you’re responsible for getting them from zero-to-60.
LOOK FOR TRANSFERABLE SKILLS: So how exactly do you “hire for potential?“ Look for someone who likes to do the type of work the job requires, even if they haven’t done that particular job professionally. If you’re hiring for a sales role, you might find your perfect “rookie“ leading a church fundraising committee, because fundamentally they like talking to people and persuading them. Likewise, if you’re hiring for a Web administrator, your ideal candidate may have been working on the PTA website for quite some time without pay or a formal title.
CONSIDER CONTRACTORS: Another reason your next great employee might be affordable is because they aren’t an employee at all. More and more skilled professionals are striking out on their own, and this trend towards self-employment is poised to continue.
This is a boon to any business owner keeping an eye on cash flow. There is a thriving marketplace for skilled contract labor which will help meet the project-based needs of your business without adding to your fixed costs and overhead.
Make sure you speak with former clients before signing on the dotted line, just as you would before writing an offer letter. The best freelancers will have long-term clients who can speak to both their technical and relationship skills.
Sometimes, you can get lucky with someone just starting out. If you find a potential resource that needs to build up their portfolio, they may be willing to give you a sweetheart deal in exchange for a good reference.
TRY VIRTUAL SOLUTIONS: Also consider using a virtual workforce, where contractors work from their homes and stay in touch via technology.
Studies show that virtual workers often work harder and longer hours than “regular“ employees, according to the National Federation of Independent Business. As technology continues to improve around screen-sharing, video conferencing and real-time document editing, you’ll have a hard time noticing whether your worker is across town or across a continent.
If you go this direction, the NFIB suggests setting some guidelines to manage virtual workers effectively. Among the tips: Stay in touch with virtual workers through Web meetings or shared calendars so they don’t feel isolated, and set clear goals and expectations regarding work hours.
At the end of the day, you get what you pay for, so think hard about what you really need in a team member. Then be a smart shopper by opening your mind to outside-the-box options.
Jennie Wong is an executive coach, author of the e-book “Ask the Mompreneur“ and the founder of the social shopping website CartCentric.com. Email her at TheJennieWonggmail.com.