Growing Your Business without Growing Your Risk or Losing Focus

by Victoria Lennox

5 min read

BY MARK BURDON (@MARK_BURDON)  |  STARTUP CANADA COMMUNITIES MEDIA

“So be sure when you step, step with care and great tact. And remember that life’s A Great Balancing Act. And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and ¾ percent guaranteed) Kid, you’ll move mountains.” Dr. Seuss – Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

Dr. Seuss, if he had been alive in this Startup era, could have written a great book motivating the entrepreneurs of today. Being an entrepreneur, you do have to make each step with care.

Life is a great balancing act as you prioritize each strategic business move, each relationship, each time you turn off your laptop at the end of the day/night and say “Am I really done now?” As frequently as the excerpt has been quoted in valedictory speeches, it should be quoted on every Accelerator wall, every Venture Capital office.

So maybe you’ve moved the odd mountain. You have brought a product to market. You have secured a round of funding from Angel investors, or Venture Capital, or maybe the 3 Fs (Friends, Family and Fools). You are busy enough such that you can no longer be the CEO, CFO, Chief Developer, Marketing Manager and VP of Sales. Or maybe you and a few partners have come to the decision it is time to bring on more people. Perhaps to fill a skill gap, help to accelerate the development curve, or even expand your product portfolio with another offering.

You will notice that Human Resources Manager, Recruiter, Payroll Manager, Benefits Administrator, Employment Counselor, or Employment Transition Specialist were not included in the list of staff roles above. Your startup is not likely to have these skillsets even if you have grown beyond the first few stages of business growth.

Maybe you are located in Victoria, BC and you’ve found out that a perfect candidate in Charlottetown just became available but they don’t want to relocate to the West Coast. Or maybe they are in Santa Cruz or Calgary. This scenario probably seems very familiar to Alex Glassey, the CEO of StratPad, a company that has employees in these cities and has not finished growing. Alex Glassey also teaches an Entrepreneurism program at Royal Roads University.  I asked him if he found running a growing company difficult with staff distributed across different cities.

“Since this isn’t my first startup, it isn’t as difficult as it was when I was building my first startup out of my basement,” said Glassey. “Back then, more years ago than I care to mention, it was a lot more difficult to sort out the required paper work, financial data, and manage everything else involved in hiring and expanding”.

Glassey said that Canadian businesses have more resources and guides available to them and organizations that can help them through the required steps of onboarding employees and addressing the administration of the day-to-day forms, financial obligations and other human resources processes.

New and growing businesses, from four people to 40 and beyond, can often benefit from outsourcing the recruitment, interviewing, hiring, administration, payment and termination of full-time and part-time staff.PEO Canada, based in Calgary and with offices across Canada, has been providing a spectrum of services to small, medium and large businesses since 1997. Its sister company, Diversified Staffing, has been providing full- and part-time staffing services for several more years.

“When you are a startup, sometimes it can be like you are a 16-year-old that just got their driver’s license,” said Andrew Ward, Managing Director at Diversified Staffing. “You are passionate about your business, you want to be in full control of what is happening, and you want to go fast. Sometimes you might bump into things along the road, or you might get a speeding ticket. Hiring additional staff comes with risks, and if you haven’t hired someone before and managed all the aspects of employment that goes along with it, you might incur costs to your business that you never considered possible.”

According to a study Intuit Canada conducted earlier this year, 33% of small business owners didn’t know the costs associated with on-boarding new employees. For those who did have a good sense of what the associated costs would be, 27% said they expected the tally would add up to $4,000 or more, said the study.

Hiring someone costs businesses more than just the employee’s salary, phone and  desk, said Ward. Employers have to consider costs of the whole recruiting and hiring process, benefits, Worker’s Compensation, Performance Reviews, right through to severance costs.

“It may sound cheaper to do that yourself, but if you make a mistake it can be very costly,” Ward said. “By working with a company like PEO Canada or Diversified, you can focus on your core business, reduce your risk, and we can help you by managing the hiring process and the day-to-day administration of your personnel.”

Dr. Seuss would probably really like the idea of outsourcing your personnel processes, which would allow you to make careful and tactful steps and keep your eye on balancing the other aspects of your business.

StratPad would also make the good doctor happy. StratPad’s iPad app (and soon to be an app on other platforms) helps you put together a business plan and track your business performance against the metrics on that plan. Move a mountain? Check! Brought a product to market? Double check! Hired employees and didn’t try to do everything myself? Triple check!

Have tips of your own to share?

Please comment below and share your advice on how to mitigate risk and manage the costs associated with expanding your team.

To learn more about the results of Intuit’s survey of small business hiring practices, challenges, and trends, you can download the free e-book here.

Earlier this year, Intuit Canada talked to more than 500 small business owners about the top trends and challenges of job creation and sourcing top talent. Spurred by the results of that study, Startup Canada and Intuit Canada have partnered on a campaign to support small business owners and entrepreneurs across Canada in accessing the knowledge and tools they need for better hiring practices and to support the success and growth of their companies. Stay tuned to PIVOT for more conversations with key players and experts in hiring and small business human resources. Also, check out Intuit’s new Google+ Page for links to essential hiring and payroll resources and tools.

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