Now that your ecommerce business is growing steadily, you realized that it is becoming difficult to handle orders and requests. Sales are skyrocketing, and you’re becoming busier than ever. Congratulations! Your online store is definitely on the road to success. What does it mean to your company? Well, if running the store can no longer be performed by a one-man team (that’s you), it could mean that you have to decide whether you need additional hands or not. This is a critical stage for your business as hiring people could make or break your company.
The best thing about running an ecommerce store is that you are not stuck with traditional employment. You have the option to outsource part-time assistants depending on the workload. So, the first thing that you have to consider is the estimated amount of work involved. Is your need for additional manpower short-term or long-term? During peak seasons, sales would dramatically increase but the situation is not always the same. Hire only when there is a necessity to do so, and hire the best that you can afford.
If you need a team of full-time employees, creating a human resources department might be necessary usually when you get to more than 35 employees. The HR personnel will be responsible for hiring staff, writing job descriptions, handling payroll, etc. The most important thing is to choose a cost-effective solution that would meet the needs of your business.
Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of hiring someone and expecting that person to learn the job on his/her own. This will result to plenty of errors and even costly mistakes. Make sure that your new staff gets proper and complete training and provide a detailed description of his tasks. Demonstrate the job first, and don’t hire him as a regular employee right away. Start off as a probationary contractor if possible and if things go well, you may then consider him for permanent employment.
Hire slow and fire fast – this mindset is very true in running an ecommerce business. Don’t hesitate to end the employment contract if you happened to hire the wrong person. If your staff is not performing well, you’re not doing him a favor by keeping him in your company. He might succeed in another company so don’t think twice in letting him go. However, be human about it. Sometimes,you have a great employee just in the wrong job position, find a different post within your organization if possible the key to avoiding this misfit is understanding the job and right kind of person for the job in the first place.
You must also keep in mind that the success of your staff is also the success of your company. So, provide valuable information to your employees and make sure that tools are available to help them develop their skills. A company handbook will help your manpower understand not only their respective jobs but as well as the vital information about your company, benefits, holidays, work protocol, work ethics, policies, etc. When you’re first hiring your initial concern might be cost, but make sure you pay enough to remove the question/concern about making enough money for your employee. If they are too busy thinking that they are not making enough money to earn a living, then they are not focus on doing the work for your company, so ensure you’re paying fair market compensation for the position.
As your ecommerce store grows, it is important to create a training program that is specifically designed for each department. If your team is not constantly updated with information, and if their skills are not continuously developed, then you are setting them up for failure. My point is that without talented people to execute your business processes, it is difficult to succeed in ecommerce not to mention the high cost of a bad hiring decision.
I also tell my clients that instead of creating a work environment where employees compete with each other, it is best to build a company culture where team members share their ideas rather than see each other as a rival at work. Encourage everyone to collaborate. Motivate your staff to always do their best. Be generous with praises when they deserve it, and give constructive criticism in private when necessary.
You’re probably thinking okay, fine everything written here is nothing new, of course having talented people working for me is better. Here is my hypothesis, most employers don’t want to micro-manage their employees. However, lots of employers do micro-manage their employees. To avoid having to micro-manage your employees, that is a different conversation, but suffice to say that if you have proven business process in place, having to micro-manage anyone goes away. The key however to having hiring and cultivating talent is actually about hiring employees who are willing to make decisions. I find in my years of owning my own business as well as in consulting that the hardest aspect of running a business is someone owning the decision process. Owners hesitate in giving authority to employees, and employees hesitate in taking ownership. So here in lies the need for talent. Talented managers and employees are not afraid to make decision in the best interest of their customers and the company.
Employee retention is always challenging in small and big companies alike. Monetary rewards are a great way to motivate and retain employees to achieve targets and goals. Create a rate increase structure where in each staff will receive a bonus or a salary raise according to his performance at work. In order to do this, you must first have a written job description and the employee must have a clear understanding of his responsibilities. This will be your guideline / criteria in assessing whether a particular staff is meeting the company expectations. Ensure that the metrics your create to measure performance are understood by your employee.
As I’ve mentioned earlier, you need the best talents to execute your processes and business plans. No matter how great your marketing strategies are, if your employees are not skilled enough to carry out and implement those strategic plans, your ecommerce store is still heading to Ecom Hell. You need people who can help you perform your processes.
Hire for talent and train for skill.
Written by: Shirley Tan