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Growing your small business with a people-first approach

By MasterCard:

As a small business owner, the growth of your business is most likely at the top of your the agenda. The hard lesson about growth is to understand that you cannot do everything yourself. The time will come, whether tomorrow or in five years, when you’ll need to hire skilled staff to hand over to and manage the responsibilities that you’re probably used to doing yourself, and your way.

The challenge is to find the right people for the role, those you can trust to get the work done with as much passion and enthusiasm as you have towards the business that you built from scratch.

Employing someone in your small business is about so much more than just adding to your headcount. Your first hire effectively doubles your staff complement – and directly impacts on how your company culture evolves. It’s also the first time that you will have to trust someone with your ‘baby’ – and it will be the test case for how you hire staff in the future.

Every new hire is important, but your first few even more so, as they will determine the future success of your company. Miles Jennings, CEO and co-founder of, writing for the MasterCard Business Network Blog says that “your ability to hire and retain great employees will determine the success of your company.”

Here is some useful advice to consider when it comes to growing one of the most important assets of your business – your people.

The team you hire needs to share your values

  • Building a team is one of the most difficult things to do because you need to be sure that the people you hire share your commitment, integrity, agility and determination to deliver quality products or services.

Choose the right people

  • Not everyone you hire is going to be good at everything. Small business owners need to choose the right people and personalities for each role and ensure they are tasked with duties they enjoy, but more importantly that they are skilled at. They also need to choose people that they can trust – whether they are employees or business partners.
  • It’s equally important to choose suppliers carefully. Dealing with unreliable suppliers will put a strain on relationships with your staff and customers. Fortunately, it is becoming easier to deal with suppliers. Portals such as the MasterCard Business Perks website makes it easier for small business owners who are members, to find and purchase goods from suppliers at a discounted rate. This not only simplifies the process of purchasing, but also saves your business money.

Invest time in your staff

  • As an employer, do not over-estimate the skill levels of new employees. Just because they have the skills to do the job on a practical level, they may not necessarily understand your industry, know what you do, or how your company operates. Be prepared to show them the ropes – and be patient as they gain new knowledge.

Set clear expectations on deliverables

  • Make sure that your staff are aware of your expectations, and that they are accountable for their roles in the business. They can only do their job well if they know what they’re supposed to be doing with clear deliverables in place.
  • Job descriptions often give very little information on the day-to-day aspects of a job role, so it’s important that you convey a positive message about your company’s prospects, values and team. Your aim should be to attract potential employees by making the job sound engaging, positive and important to the company’s growth.

You should build your small business with future growth in mind. Your skills and values, together with those of your staff and your business partners, should complement each other so you build a successful business you can be proud of. Make sure that you give recruiting and hiring the attention it deserves as your future, and the future of your small business, depends on it.