People Are Your Best Business Investment

I spent last weekend on a birthday adventure for my sister-in-law. We snowmobiled on the Trans-Quebec trails and stayed at a beautiful resort complete with incredible dinners and tons of spa time. This luxury resort has been in business for over 25 years and while much of it’s success is owed to the vision, execution, and business acumen of it’s eight shareholders, I didn’t see any of them over the weekend. It was the concierges, the massage therapists, the chefs, the wait staff, the housekeepers, etc. that made the entire trip an experience that we will remember for years to come.

Back in the office on Monday, I couldn’t help but think about my company. The ideas, the talent, the successes, the challenges, the various perspectives, the skills, and the personalities of the people all woven together to create the fabric of my organization. I’m not thinking about a marketing campaign, a development contract, or a new client testimonial. I’m thinking about Erin, Ben, and Caitlyn.

People will always be your best business investment. 

One of the hardest parts of starting and growing a business is knowing when and how to bring on additional help. Not having the right people in your organization can be the biggest barrier to your company’s growth. Often people wait way too long before pulling the trigger on their first hire. And what they don’t realize is that it isn’t really saving you money not to make that hire. Think about it. As a business owner, your time is usually best spent on sales/marketing, key relationships, strategy, and vision. All other tasks that take you away from those responsibilities are taking you away from additional revenue. People always tell me they can’t afford to hire an administrative assistant, a sales associate, or a marketing coordinator. But I say, how can you afford not to? Look, I get it. Making that first hire is a big step. More money is going out the door and you’re not sure when (if ever) you’ll see a return. But you’re thinking about it all wrong, people aren’t an expense or a cost, people are an investment. And if you are committed to growing your business, then you must master the art of leverage – recruiting, hiring, onboarding, and then leading and growing your employees.

If you are in the early stages of your business and a little gun shy about your first hire, then it’s time to think outside the box. Your first hire does not need to be a $120,000 a year marketing director or a $55,000 a year assistant. Here are some creative ways to add leverage to your life on a minimal budget so you can focus on the dollar producing activities that grow your business:

  1. Interns
  2. Part-time Employees
  3. Family Members
  4. Trade expertise with another sole-proprietor/entrepreneur
  5. Virtual Assistants
  6. Personal Assistants
  7. Outsource projects (like graphic design, social media, or bookkeeping)

The point is, investing time to bring on a virtual assistant or partner with another entrepenuer who you can trade your marketing expertise for their financial advice is only going to help you and your company grow. If I had $5,000 left in the bank, I would hire a part-time team member for 2 months, before ever thinking about spending it on technology or advertising. Why? Because if I went the software route, while I’m trying to build my business, I’m also having to figure out how to use the damn technology which will only slow down my focus on sales! And as we know the CEO should only be focused on the dollar producing activities.

If you are already a small business and understand the importance of having great people on your team, don’t stop! It’s not just a matter of hiring the right people, though, that’s a great first step. It’s continuing to hire great people because they will shape the culture of your organization, which will in turn either attract or repel additional talent. Beyond that, you’ve got to teach your team how to recruit and hire great staff. You must teach them the value of hiring people better than them at a particular job function so that you continue to level up the talent in your company.

This all sounds great when a company is consistently exceeding their revenue goals (sure, hire away!) but what about when a business is struggling? Often, when a business is looking to cut expenses, the first thing managers look at is reducing staff or instituting a hiring freeze. I believe in doing the opposite. I will look at every line item on our P&L and eliminate extra marketing, client events, and office supplies before I even think about reducing staff positions. Remember, your company is made up of the people that you’ve hired and cultivated; it is not built on your fancy conference room, new logo or latest software. Clients and customers care little about what’s going on behind the scenes, just that they receive exceptional value for whatever product or service they purchased and that they had a great experience along the way. People tend to do business with people they like. Invest in amazing people and keep investing in them and you will come out on top no matter the internal or external economic climate.

My mission at Adam Hergenrother Companies is personal growth through business success and that is not something I take lightly. Once you have the right people in the right seat on the bus, you’ve got to keep them engaged and continue to invest in them. Whether it’s an intern or a VP, we carefully select the team member and then pour into them daily so they grow. From weekly one-on-one coaching sessions, to an unlimited vacation and time off policy, to training events and industry conferences, to monthly book clubs – an organization that is committed to the growth of it’s employees is an organization that will continue to grow.

People are the cornerstone of your organization and will always be your best business investment. Truly leading through others is a humbling experience and takes years of practice. The hardest part about building a business is finding, hiring, developing, and shaping people. It takes years to really get to know people and to understand if they have what it takes to execute and achieve your vision. It will be painful at times. It will cost you time and money. But achieving success beyond what you are capable of alone and succeeding through others is a gift that keeps on giving.

Do you have a story about a great hire or how one of your team members changed the trajectory of your organization? Share in the comments below!

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