We’ve talked at length in the past about how to be successful when starting an online business: Honing in on a niche, localizing your efforts, and making sure your website is top-of-the-line presentable. The tips are all great and ones that should be taken to heart, but there are also two major obstacles to avoid to ensure that your business runs smoothly and has the best chance of thriving instead of withering on the vine: having unsuitable staff, and having no money. These digital business pitfalls have claimed many businesses – 90% of startups fail – and to avoid becoming a failure statistic yourself; it’d be wise to learn the specifics of these challenges along with the appropriate countermeasures.
As Steve Jobs once said, “Hire The Best.” Having the wrong team is something that is bound to sink a business every time. Your organization is only as good as its components, and if those components are unskilled, lazy, or can’t work as a unit, disaster is bound to strike. There are many philosophies about hiring talent, some of which you may have heard of already.
The “7 C’s” laid out by investor Alan Hall, stresses seven factors. A combination of traits that a good employee should have and external forces that you should use to weigh potential candidates:
- Competency (the right skills and education to do the job)
- Capability (being able to grow and take on new challenges)
- Compatibility (the ability to get along with others)
- Commitment (dedication to your team’s long-term success)
- Character (values and virtues, usually in alignment with your own)
- Culture (does the candidate fit your company’s employee culture?)
- Compensation (does the candidate feel they are being paid fairly?)
It’s a good set of criteria by which to judge, but how to assess these qualities in your potential employees? You can glance at a resume to get an idea of a person’s skills and education, but you can’t do the same to find out what kind of person they are. Luckily, years upon years of business have honed behavioral analysis down to a series of probing questions that can provide insight into the character of a job seeker. How they respond, both in the content of their answers and their mannerisms while answering, will tell you a lot about their personal nature.
Once you have talent, managing them and making sure they work in a complementary fashion is a huge priority. When operating in a digital sphere, many traditional management skills and tactics apply, but since you’re mainly managing remote workers, there is a unique challenge due to the lack of in-person, face-to-face communication. Meaning can get lost in strictly text-based conversation, creating unnecessary conflict and slowing down productivity.
The trick to getting past this? Making things as personable with your employees as possible. Using lots of video calls, shooting the breeze with some chit-chat or small talk, conveying emotion through emoticons and fun animated gifs (you’d be surprised how great they are for alleviating tension in an online conversation). Remain connected and send them a physical token of appreciation once in awhile – this will do wonders for building team spirit and eliminating conflict between you and your remote hires, and among your remote hires themselves. The computer removes some of the human element, so it’s important to remind yourself every once in awhile that yes, they are people too!
Once you have the talent and are growing at a good rate, one thing that has repeatedly dashed businesses’ hopes is not having enough cash to continue operations. Some business philosophies will preach a process of slow growth, which can work in some cases, but ignores the facts that:
- Rapid growth that occurs early in a business’ life is a prominent indicator of continued success
- Rapid growth can help alleviate other fledgling business challenges, such as getting smashed by the competition or losing focus of the goal.
The downside, of course, is that rapid growth can result in a snowball that’s hard to maintain without capital.
Where to turn? The options are ever growing in the digital age, but it’s important to ask yourself the right questions or end up beset with the misery of a bad loan. There are tons of resources out in the ether regarding securing a working capital loan, so make sure you take advantage of them to keep your business on track.
Managing these two potential business pitfalls will be key to ensuring growth and prosperity for your online business, but careful planning will see that you meet the challenges of the modern digital organization with a sound game plan. Good luck, fellow entrepreneur!