“I wish I could clone myself.” As a small business owner, you’ve probably said this before—I know I did at one time.
When you’re starting a small business, it’s tempting to think that you know it all and that you simply need to hire more people like you. But smart hiring is exactly the opposite: It involves hiring talent that is strong where you are weak.
The classic example is the introverted innovator who loves to spend time creating and inventing but who dreads selling and marketing. She might be terrific at explaining the uses of her inventions and eager to demonstrate them to small groups but not so keen on making the rounds trying to sell them to other businesses. If the inventor hired an extroverted marketing director to always carry her message, she would hand the spotlight—and her company’s reputation—to someone else.
Build your best team
Of course, complementary hiring is about more than simply palming off the tasks you don’t like. It requires a deeper understanding of your core abilities and core aptitudes—what you already know and like to do and what you master quickly, easily, and confidently.
The key to building a winning team is first knowing your own strengths and weaknesses well enough so that you can hire complementary talent.
Here are three low-cost ways to gain insight into your own strengths and weaknesses so you can hire smarter:
1. Conduct a SWOT analysis of yourself. SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. While it is often used to assess a business venture or project, you can also use the SWOT method to identify your own strengths and weaknesses.
For the “opportunities and threats” aspect of the analysis, ask yourself what your reasonable chance of success will be when applying your strengths to upcoming business growth challenges. Align what likely are wins as opportunities and what likely are fails as threats.
Say, for example, you find that you are great at developing new products or services but lack the organization to manage the schedule of deliverables associated with bringing them to market. If that’s the case, when it comes time to add a new product or service to your company’s repertoire, you’ll know you need to hire a project manager to handle the deliverables.
2. Use the Kolbe method to find your natural strengths. Developed by Kathy Kolbe, the Kolbe method is widely used by leadership teams in order to assess how to make the most of a team member’s individual strengths. The online version of the Kolbe test is available at www.kolbe.com.
In addition to helping you understand your natural strengths, the Kolbe method can also help you understand your team’s strengths. When you understand each team member’s strengths, you can understand where the holes may be—and what kind of person you need to hire to fill those holes.
You may find, for example, that your team is full of naturally self-motivated individuals who constantly produce quality work but that no team members (you included) are particularly good at confronting personnel issues as they arise. If that’s the case, you may decide you need to hire someone with the personality and skills to navigate critical conversations about performance, attitude, and work habits.
3. Detect your organic leadership preferences. Use the StrengthsFinder 2.0 book and online test to understand your strengths and how to use those to collaborate with others. Based on Gallup research, the book and test can help you develop a leadership strategy based on your strengths.
For example, you may be a strategic thinker who knows how to keep your business competitive, but you may not be as good at attracting skilled employees or investors. In that case, you may find it best to hire a business development officer who can handle these tasks.
Hiring the right people is essential to growing your business and, ultimately, maximizing your profits. By understanding your strengths, you can also understand the strengths, aptitudes, and attitudes you need to look for in potential new hires.
Joanne Cleaver doesn’t just write about entrepreneurship and finance for national publications and websites. As a longtime freelance writer and editorial project manager, she lives it. Her most recent book is “The Career Lattice“ (McGraw Professional, 2012), which shows how lateral moves power career growth.
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