Recruitment isn’t something to be approached casually or treated as an afterthought. If you want to bring your business plan to fruition, you need to make it an urgent priority way ahead of time.
Growing a business is about far more than just identifying goals and setting out a plan to reach them with the resources you currently have. It’s about adapting over time to yield better results from whatever you bring to the table, and finding ways to bring more to the table. Recruitment is all about the latter — fleshing out your company with brilliant workers to define your future.
But even though we all know (deep down) that a company without a talented team behind it will fail, plenty of companies still approach it in a casual and ad-hoc fashion — occasionally deciding very suddenly that they need fresh talent and expecting to bring them in rapidly.
If you have lofty business ambitions that you intend to not only meet but also comfortably exceed, then you need to be extremely proactive, launching the recruitment process well before you need it to pay off in your business plan. Here’s why:
Your employees are your biggest investments
In ideal circumstances — you treat them well, reward them fairly, and give them room to grow — an employee will stick around indefinitely. If your company endures, someone could be with you for decades, and over that time their value to the business will grow and change. Though there are exceptions, long-term employees of good companies tend to be highly skilled, knowledgeable about all areas of the business, and fantastic company representatives.
The latter quality is particularly important in the B2B field, dominated as it is by business relationships. If someone is technically competent for horribly uncomfortable speaking to clients, their utility will be limited. There’s a common temptation to imagine that these traditional 1-to-1 interpersonal discussions are outdated in modern business, but the truth is that they’ll always be valuable.
Then there’s the matter of finding the hidden gems: the candidates who aren’t highly-rated by prospective employers, and might not have much confidence or experience, but who have all the potential in the world (and are suitably motivated). If you can find such a gem, they’ll return enormous value over time — firstly through not being in a position to require a large salary (though their bargaining power will increase as they demonstrate their skills), and then through being loyal to the company that gave them a chance.
Done optimally, the recruitment process takes time
Unfortunately, you can never fully predict the employment market. At any given point, there may be a huge range of candidates looking for work, or barely anyone. This means you always need to give yourself plenty of time to hunt for new hires — the more time spent looking, the more likely it is that you’ll find someone great.
Also consider that a candidate can drop out for any one of many reasons. They might get a better offer, decide to change career, or become ill, for instance. Couple that with the potential of scheduling issues to delay final hiring determinations, and you have a drawn-out process that can send you back to square one at any time.
You must account for onboarding and business integration
Even the best new hire needs time to learn company systems and policies, and this process can last for weeks or even months depending on the exact nature of their role and the size of the business — what’s more, that phase can only begin once they’ve been onboarded (registered on all necessary systems, given all the resources they need, etc.).
During onboarding, you need to get them on payroll (ideally using a suitable payroll system), and deal with any paperwork that comes along with the position, such as a contract. You then need to get them registered and up to speed on all necessary systems, which itself can take a while depending on their level of experience and the nature of your business.
Do you use an HR software solution like BreatheHR to book leave? Use specific team communication tools to assign tasks and discuss procedure? In particular, the modern business world is rife with tools built to digitize and automate the sales process, and these tools can be integral to companies (particularly in the B2B realm, where a B2B-targeted ecommerce system like Shopify Plus or Virto Commerce can be used for everything from content production to complex personalization).
The more complex and essential the tool, the longer a new hire will need to learn it. Make sure there is enough time (and available documentation) for new staff to get to grips with sales platforms, customer experience tools, databases, and all of your company’s technical resources so that you don’t encounter any service disruptions.
New employees don’t always start strong
Sometimes a new hire will have things scheduled ahead of time that will prevent them from joining you full-time right away, so you might need to get everything set up for them then wait a month for them to arrive — but that’s not the only threat to their early productivity.
Even when a new hire has fully caught up with the demands of their role, they still need to become comfortable with their colleagues — initial awkwardness negatively affects communication and lowers morale. In essence, this all means that a new team member can easily be a drain on resources in the short term, and that drain can cause problems if you don’t account for it by launching the recruitment process as early as possible.
There will always be complications
The business world is complicated, and you can’t account for everything that can go wrong: for instance, a promising hire might not work out due to a culture mismatch, ultimately leaving within a month without achieving anything for you. It isn’t always about core performance — there are other factors that can make someone a bad hire.
Of course, you also can’t account for everything that can go right: your business plan can be accelerated due to unexpected successes, leaving you scrambling to take advantage of the opportunity. Because you don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow, you need to grant yourself as much leeway as you can in how you operate.
The sooner you get a candidate picked out and embedded in your team (having made it past the long hiring process and the testing ground of the first month), the sooner you can rely on them for important elements of your business plan.
Overall, there’s no logic in allowing your hiring process to lag behind your business growth, or even just keep pace with it. It introduces so many factors that you can’t control, and operates at such a delay when it comes to delivering value, that it needs to be given priority as early as possible.