Most small business owners fairly quickly get to the stage where they need to hire in help to free themselves up to continue growing their business. Sometimes these businesses are hiring employees directly, but it is much more common for them to build up a virtual team of contractors to support their business needs.

So far, I have contracted the services of an IT company, an accountant, and a business coach to help me along. I am also in talks with a couple of Virtual Assistants to support me in my own business and also, under my direction, to help with some client work.

Finding people to work with

I was recently tasked with sourcing a new Head Chef for one of my clients. My client suggested advertising in the local paper, but after I provided him with some costings he was very quickly converted to the idea of placing an advert on an online job search site. I carefully drafted an advert to attract the best on the market, and we were delighted with the number of high calibre responses we received, and indeed a new Head Chef was appointed within the week.

However it is much more common to find small businesses building their team without the need to advertise and interview. Through face-to-face and online networking, my circle of trusted professional contacts is growing by the week. For example, I know a number of accountants now and I am happy to recommend someone whose style and personality will best fit the client.

Train the one who fits the best

Clearly in the case of the tax accountant it is vital that they possess the appropriate skillset, have the qualifications to ensure compliance and have a commitment to their own continuing professional development, ensuring they are up-to-date and giving the best advice.

But there are some roles where the most important hiring factor is the ‘fit’. Have you ever heard it said that you should ‘hire for personality, not for skills’?

Skills can be taught, but the fit with you, your business and values is essential. Training the right person is often a better long term strategy than hiring someone with exactly the right skills who may already be set in their own ways and not open to the particular circumstances of your business needs.

Of course the ideal is when the person who best fits the business also has exactly the right skills, but don’t waste time searching for this perfect combination, as aptitude, enthusiasm and hunger to learn can plug that skills gap.

The fit is also the key thing I look for when talking with potential clients, and the ones that I engage in on-going dialogue with are those where there is a connection on a personal as well as professional level. I know I will do my best work if my values are in line with my client’s and I share their passion for their business. That is not to say that we will agree on everything, as part of my role is to bring a new perspective, and challenge the accepted way of thinking or doing things, but where the fit is right, that challenge is welcome and productive.

Hiring is not about finding someone exactly like you, but someone who will complement you and your style.

What was the key to your greatest hiring or outsourcing success?