Your people are your business

One of the greatest challenges to a micro business can be recruiting the right people to enable the business to grow. Both from a cost and time perspective, recruitment can be a significant demand on a micro business. However, it is the single most important element of running a successful company.

During difficult economic circumstances, recruitment can become increasingly complex. Potential candidates can be apprehensive about moving jobs and a cluttered employment market means that filtering suitable candidates is both time consuming and challenging.

French multi-entrepreneur Alain Bosetti has successfully implemented and managed an intern programme within his own business: “A quarter of our recruitment is done through our intern programme. This has several benefits. We get to know the candidate both from a work and ability perspective, as well as personality fit, while also avoiding expensive recruitment consultancy fees.”

However, Alain also recognises that without a structured management process this approach can have limited success: “It is vital to understand where someone will fit within the business and also be transparent with business objectives and performance. Alongside this we pay our interns above average salaries and ensure they have clear performance objectives so they do not become complacent or used purely in an administrative capacity.”

A CV also only tells a small part of the story about a prospective candidate. Meeting them and getting to know them as a person, as opposed to a written series of roles, is critical. When you’re running a business of less than 10 people there really is no room for strongly conflicting personalities. Within a small business it is vital that any new employees don’t upset the existing harmony within your business as this can be devastating to your success. Often, when you live and breathe your business, it becomes clear when the right candidate walks in to the room.

Dr Hasso Kaempfe, German business consultant and former chairman of the board of Mast Jägermeister AG, recognises the importance of stability and longevity of the workforce: “A revolving door culture where there is a high turnover of employees can create a volatile atmosphere of distrust where your workforce does not share your commitment to making the business a success. It is difficult to create a positive atmosphere and culture within a micro business with a constantly changing team as ultimately your people need to buy in to the values of the business and be as committed as you are to its success.”

Italian social media entrepreneur, Marco Montemagno, advises micro businesses, especially web-start ups, to ensure that potential employees understand, believe and are excited by your vision for your business: “For employees joining a start up or a micro business, money and bonus cannot be the only motivator for them to join you. You have to get a sense from them that they can share you passion, determination and vision to make your business a success.”

Jo Fairley is co-founder of Green & Black’s, the premium confectionery range. Jo and her entrepreneur husband set out to market the world’s first organic chocolate. They decided on ‘green’ to represent their environmental and social ethos, and ‘black’ to represent their particularly high-quality cocoa beans. Green & Black’s were amongst the first to highlight the social responsibility of food producers, and the first UK business to earn the Fairtrade mark. Jo Fairley is author of more than a dozen books, contributing editor to the Mail on Sunday YOU Magazine and chair of a Soil Association committee. Unwilling to retire, she and Craig now run an organic bakery and a health centre.