Use Incentives Instead of Salaries to Recruit Early Hires

April 13, 2009

carrot-incentiveMost companies start with nothing.  But it takes people to run a company.  So what should you do?  You don’t have any money coming in to pay your employees, but you can’t hire anyone with any talent if you can’t pay them.  You’re stuck.

Not if you are creative.

Instead of offering competitive salaries to the first round of people that you hire, offer them a chance at even higher earning potential down the line.  I have always been one that thought that giving your employees a vested interest in the success of your company will lead to better results.  When people see that their work directly leads to the company’s success, and they are rewarded based on that productivity, they are much more likely to increase their effort.

If you hire a salesman, consider higher commissions than he expects.  Consider allowing the sales team to make suggestions to the marketing and development teams that will make selling and customer communication easier.  Reward them for suggestions that they help get implemented.

If you hire marketers, tie their earnings potential in with revenue that can be tracked directly to the marketing campaigns that they controlled.  If someone helps to create a strategy that works out in a big way, don’t hesitate to let them in some of the revenue that the strategy brought you.  For more ideas on creating a successful employee incentives program, check this out.

Your employees are much more likely to take an active role in the building of a new company if they feel some sort of ownership role.  They will stay with you longer, produce better results, and work harder to turn your new company into a stronger, larger one.

Anyone can offer a competitive salary.  Only the best and brightest companies offer a sense of responsibility and reward system based on the various roles played by employees.  Those companies will continue to recruit and retain A Players.

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Fire Yourself

March 1, 2009

youre-firedDo yourself a favor, fire yourself.  You are not good at handling those customer service calls, it takes time away from your day when you could be doing much more important things.  You are not good at collecting marketing and press related leads, and you don’t know what to say when you get a hold of them.  You are not good at filling out your taxes and handling the accounting, and you make too many mistakes.

As an entrepreneur, you may be good at a lot of things, but you also may be in dark when it comes to many tasks.  You should never be afraid to admit to your flaws or shortcomings.  Once your business is up and running, look for help.  You can always find people to do the things that you are not so good at.  Hire interns, hire friends, outsource your work, it all works.

The main reason that entrepreneurs don’t do this is because they are afraid.  They are afraid to let go of certain areas of the business because they don’t think that other people will try as hard.  As long as I am responsible for that, you’ll think, it will get done right.  The problem is, you will get so tied down in those menial tasks that you won’t have time to evaluate the business on the large scale and find new opportunities for growth.  You will stay as small as you are right now, forever.

When things stay the same, you are not innovating. You are not giving yourself a chance to grow, or try new things, or find new customers.  You are limiting yourself.

As an entrepreneur, the best thing you do is probably sell, or network, or market.  Focus on growing the business, and find people you can trust to handle the day to day tasks.  You will find yourself to be a lot happier at work, and you will free yourself up to continued success.

It takes a real forward thinking man or woman to fire yourselfDo it today.

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Hire a Social Media Manager and Start Talking

January 15, 2009

social-mediaWhy would a company need to hire someone whose job it is to manage social media?  To me, the answer to that question is obvious.  And if you know anything about the social web, you probably agree.  The problem is that the majority of companies out there don’t know as much as we do, because they are either out of touch or just don’t care.

The emerging world of social media offers networks like Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace.  It offers an endless array of blogs and other sources for news and opinions.  It offers the sharing of information, videos, pictures, thoughts, and ideas.  This is where people are talking.  This is where people are learning about new things.  And this is where you need to be.

But you can’t do it by yourself.  There are too many areas that you need to be aware of and on top of at all times.  And there are too many resources out there to help you to ignore.

Step 1: Evaluate the Social Media landscape and find out where you fit in. As Marc Meyer (twitter.com/Marc_Meyer) says, not every company or customer may be a fit.  In addition, not every company needs to be involved in every aspect of social media.  But there are areas you can capitalize on, whether you use it for customer service, contests and promotions, ideas, or brand building.  The key is to understand it.

Step 2: Define your customer from a social media perspective. Are your existing customers using social media, and in what way?  Are there potential customers on the social web that present an opportunity?  The better you understand your customers’ habits on the web, the more you will understand how to reach them.

Step 3: Spend the money. The reason I say to hire someone whose primary job it is to manage your social media efforts is twofold.  One, you want to give them control to communicate, interact, and adapt on their own.  Two, for brand building, one clear message across social media channels is important.  As “SMcuter” (twitter.com/SMcuter) would say, too many cooks in the kitchen leads to inconsistency and poorly laid out plans.

Seth Godin reminds us that if no one is talking about you, you’re boring.  But the truth is, you can start the conversation.  And you can take part in the conversation.  This is as true for large corporations like Microsoft and IBM as it is for local businesses like clothing stores and restaurants.

Hire someone who understands the web, someone with vision and creativity.  It takes a combination of different backgrounds, such as technology and marketing.  It’s a new job role, and one that many people will be looking to fill.  Give them freedom, give them a voice, and put them to work.  In the end, this will be an inexpensive way to create a buzz, to build your brand, and to seek out new customers.

Do you agree?

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Hiring and Team Leading for Innovation

August 19, 2008

There are a lot of ways to inspire, empower, and encourage innovation and innovators within your company.  The trick is finding the ways that work for you and your employees and sticking with them.  Ride the wave of innovation for as long as it takes you.

For both small and large organizations, hiring can be a great time to create new innovation.  Most times, at any level of the company, a fresh pair of eyes can do wonders.  They can help you see problems that you overlooked, or opportunities that you could never find.  Being in one place too long has a numbing effect, and sometimes all it takes is a fresh outlook on a business to generate new growth.

Innovation within proven organizations and teams can come from a lot of places, but it almost always is a product of great leadership.  There are multiple ways to inspire your “A” players to continue to innovate.  First, create brainstorming meetings across departments and allow people to connect to one another.  Generate many ideas and then focus on narrowing it down to one great new idea.  Then select a team and give them the full responsibility for that new project.

This will give them a passion to get things done.  It will also highlight the work they are doing and provide guidelines for which they will be judged and rewarded.  “Innovation Teams” within the scope of a larger organization should have the freedom to operate on their own while utilizing the many assets available to them within the company.  A little freedom can lead to a lot of creativity.


Intelligent Design

July 28, 2008

In today’s world, it is people within a company that add the value.  Whereas in the past, companies were built around their superior production and manufacturing, now everything depends on people.  Ideas come from those people within the company, and that is what drives a company forward.

It is up to the company to empower people at all levels.  Ideas can come from anyone, in any position within the organization.  The best ideas need to have a way or working through the system and implemented quickly.  So the question becomes, how do you reward this type of innovation so that you can encourage your employees to continue to create?

Many companies are trying out new ways of compensation and rewards to help their employees feel like they are valued.  A yearly salary used to be all it took, because it made people feel comfortable and secure.  But today, that will not work because it will not lead to real growth and development.  More direct encouragement is needed to give people a reason to think outside the box.  Reward those people that bring the best ideas forward, and let it be known throughout the company that this is how you do business.

In an age where personal branding is just as important as a company’s branding, a little recognition can go a long way.  Think about how much more likely it is for someone to come forward with a revolutionary idea if they know they will be given full credit.  This will limit turnover, encourage personal and professional development, and lead to a more fulfilling employee/employer relationship.

Ideas must be cultivated.  The people with those ideas must be advanced.  And systems need to be implemented to allow this to happen seamlessly within an organization.  The companies that do this will not only cultivate a better corporate culture, they will draw the best young talent to continue to move the organization forward.