Running a business is a task that requires expert insight into all sorts of issues, from statistical analysis, to employment law, to accounting expertise, to digital marketing. Unfortunately, you’ve likely started a business because you’re an expert in your industry: you need to be, to find the unique approach, product or solution that your business is founded on.
For some of the questions you’ll face, it’s worthwhile taking the time to research and become your own expert and make your own informed decisions. For others, denying yourself independent expert help is one of the worst false economies you can make, and in trying to save the cost of a consultant, you set yourself up for a far bigger loss in the future. Only the biggest businesses have the resources to sustain their own in-house legal team, and start-ups often do without dedicated HR staff, but today we’re looking at the experts it’s well worth hiring – even if only on a temporary basis.
If you want to start learning from your customers about what you’re doing right and wrong, it’s easy to start: a follow-up survey with purchases, or a random selection of browsers of your website can help you find out about what works and what doesn’t.
The problem with this approach is that you’ll rapidly exhaust what your customers can tell you: they’re already your customers, so they already think you’re doing the right thing. To get true insights, you need data from the people your business is failing to attract. An independent market research or brand tracking agency doesn’t just have more experience at asking questions, and understanding what the answers mean: they also have the reach to survey customers who you don’t have access to, magnifying the value their data has for you!
It’s all too easy to see a Human Resource department as obstructive and to struggle to see their value, especially if your experience of it has been from the point of view of an employee dealing with bureaucracy and refused holiday requests prior to starting your own business and enjoying the freedom that brings with it.
If your HR team is run well, staffed with good communicators and shares values with your executive team, you’ll find them a vital asset because what they do for you is help you retain staff. The longer a staff member has been with you, the more value they have to your business: they’ve grown in experience of your industry in general and your processes in particular and while you can fill their chair if they move on, it will take time for that new starter to acquire the same level of experience.
Even if you’re a lean start-up, with a small, tightly focussed team, it can be worth putting some of the employee tracking and development processes in place that help to create long-term satisfaction and therefore long-term employment. An HR consultant or interim manager can help to educate you about what you need to, and set up the systems you’ll need until your business is big enough to sustain full-time HR staff.