What is the most important decision you make as a business owner?  Where to advertise?  Whether or not to invest in more equipment?  Whether to open a new location?

Actually… the most important decision you make as a business owner is who to hire.

Without reliable employees, it does not matter how successful your next marketing campaign is – because you will not be able to handle the increase in demand that you generate.  If you do not have skilled and responsible operators for the equipment you are investing in, it will be of no use.  And if your employees cannot provide quality customer service, it does not matter how many locations you have – customers are not going to walk through the doors.

But hiring well isn’t easy. I’ve learned this from personal experience.  Below are some of the lessons I have picked up over the years:

  1. Value teachability and enthusiasm over experience.  Your goal should be to differentiate your company from the competition, which means your organization needs to do things differently.  That means that you need employees who are eager to learn YOUR ways of doing things, not individuals who have learned a different system and aren’t willing to change.

  2. Hire for values first.  You can teach someone to operate a cash register, or to make a sales presentation, or whatever the necessary technical skills may be.  You cannot, teach an individual to become trustworthy, driven, or passionate about their job.  Many business owners make the mistake of hiring a skilled applicant over a less-skilled individual with stronger values.  It is an understandable mistake, because in the short-term it is easier to hire the employee that does not need technical training.  But in the long run, it is the wrong decision.

  3. Look for the skills you need – not what’s “impressive”.  When you do get down to choosing an employee based on the skills they possess, make sure you are evaluating only the skills that will translate to success in your company.  Identify the most important skills for the position you are seeking to fill, and do not worry about the rest.  I’ve seen many business owners hire a candidate with a world of potential and all sorts of impressive skills, but who is deficient in the areas that actually matter.  Do not pay much attention to the skills that won’t translate to your business, and you will be much more likely to hire the right person for the job.

Each time you make a new hire you are dramatically impacting the future of your organization.  Make sure that you take as much time as you need to conduct your due diligence, this decision is too important to rush!