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An Employer, Not An Employee

The thought processes that an employer needs to follow are very different to those of the employee. Many of us starting out  have been “employees” rather than “employers” and struggle with the differentiation. My own definitions as a business owner for the two are;

  • Employer: the person responsible for creating, managing and maintaining a business.
  • Employee: an individual responsible for participating in generating business success.

The two have a mutual goal – the success of the company. Without the company, neither can exist.

Leaf in a rock

So what does this mean as an employer?

You have made a decision to invest in a role in your organisation. You have weighed up the merits of creating this role and ensured that the motivation is correct. You are certain you can answer the question “what will this role do to grow and enhance my business?” You now must go and find the correct person for that role.

Many of us are tempted to bring friends, family, collegues into the business “as a favour” or because its more cost-effective. This is not ultimately the correct call. You need to bring in the person who is the right person, not a square peg for a round hole. The investment in employing a person is large;

  • Salary.
  • Cost of payroll.
  • Office space and equipment.
  • Pensions, bonus schemes, allowances….
  • Your time or others management time.
  • Training

It is important to bring the correct person on board. So you go through your interview process carefully and select the right person for the job. Hiring done.

But your role as an employers does not stop at paying the employee a salary. You must mentor, motivate, coach, sometimes criticize, expectation manage, delegate and support that employee so that they give the business the 110% that you are looking for.

Where possible, share business decision making processes and reasoning to help them understand the current and future plans for the company.

Remember though, they are there to support your business and to show tangible worth to its success. If they are not, you need to ask yourself why not. If it’s your fault e.g. insufficient resources, lack of support, poor mentoring, then see what you can do to address these issues. If it is the fault of the employee, get them on a performance improvement plan immediately, they will either step up to the plate, leave, or be dismissed on sound ground i.e. the improvement plan agreed and undertaken.

Not nice – but then you are not running a charity to support that person and this is probably the biggest change in attitute that you the employer needs to make over being an employee!

Anyone anything else to add on the mindset differences between the two?

Photo Attribution and Thanks To

Budding entrepeneur working on software product solutions for business. My background is mainly operational and senior management roles in mobile telecoms and software houses. Areas of expertise include professional services, out-sourcing, team management and general operations management. I've made the conscious decision to create my own company having spent the last 20 years learning in the corporate world. In my contributions to this forum, I will share some insights and learnings that I've picked up along the way and hopefully they will be useful to some or all!

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  • Nice one Barney. I believe that definitely too many business owners don’t take the appropriate time to think what having and employee involves. I even hear these days many director taking about hiring interns (that obviously that cots nothing to almost nothing) and I’m not sure why they don;t think that they’ll still need to invest time and a lot of effort in bringing that person up to speed.
    I agree on the performance plan, etc, however what’s crucial in order to avoid this instances, spend extra time training employees and more is that we start looking for potential employees WAY before in advance.
    Rich Schefren says that looking for someone at the very last moment or desperately is what makes us go with “anyone” or like you said Barney… a family member? not the best call indeed.

  • Thanks for your comments Fred. You are quite right – spending time recruiting the right employees so that the training requirement is reduced along with the need to ever take out the dreaded performance plan!

  • Barney, nice reminder!! Getting an individual to let go and share responsibility in a meaningful way can prove very difficult for a great many small biz owners. An unhealthy emotional attachment to one’s business can limit decision making like you wouldn’t believe.

  • This is a great post.
    We must also remember that when a sole trader leaves a business, the business is effectively dead. No investor will touch it without being at least a limited company.
    Business owners can get so caught up in their business, they often forget the possibility of a “legacy”, something to leave behind, and not just die away with them. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to sell on a customer base or niche market when you decide to hang up the boxing gloves?

  • Point well made Elaine. If you are an individual consultant – then fine, the business dies gracefully when you stop. But those with a product or a business that delivers services then the owner needs to ensure he/she has a get-out strategy that facilitates the business continuing without them.

  • Roisin Bell

    In my experience entrepreneurs are almost always great sales people. However many SBOs just ‘end up’ doing what they do (rather than being driven to it by their own entrepreneurial ambitions) and so they probably don’t have these inherent sales skills. Sales may always be an uphill struggle for this group. This post will be useful for them as a simple set of foundation rules to follow.

  • I wholeheartedly agree with this article Adam! I’ve never heard the word “ambassador” used before in reference to a small business owner, yet this is the absolute best word to use! Thank you! When I think about it, I am always representing my company 24/7 and that’s what an ambassador does indeed. This is valuable information that any small business owner should take a moment and reflect on (even if it stings a bit). ;)n nMuch kindness,n nElena

  • As a new business owner, it is always good to get good information. We do wear many hats at many different times, but need to remember we are our business!

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