Everybody makes mistakes. But when you’re a small business owner, sometimes the mistakes seem so much BIGGER than other kinds of mistakes. There are ways in which small business owners try to be everything to everybody….probably because that’s how you feel when you’re running a small business. So as one business owner to another, and as an expert in the human resource side of business, here are some mistakes you should particularly try to avoid.
1. Treating Employees Like Family: This gets a little weird. You
get attached to your employees, of course and as the owner of the business you can wind up feeling like the parent. You’re not. When employees are screwing up on their jobs because their lives are a mess, it’s not your job to fix their lives or be uber patient with their mistakes. They’re grownups. They’re working a job. You can direct them where to get help. You can give them a warning about how their performance could affect their job so they have a chance to correct their errors. But you can’t carry them indefinitely while they struggle through whatever their issues are. This is dysfunctional. A dysfunctional family is bad enough. A dysfunctional business fails.
2. Oversharing: I know you may think it makes you closer to people when they understand what’s going on in your marriage or your relationship or with your brother’s rehab. Or you may feel like it’s a bonding thing if you become Facebook friends with all your employees and their nearest and dearest. (Until, of course, they post something horrible and you have to be the boss again.) All that intimacy does make you closer but not in the right way. You’re the boss. They don’t need to know you like that. They need to respect you, and, sadly, a little distance goes a long way in helping that happen.
3. Hiring in Your Own Image: There’s a reason you’re the business owner. You’re talented. You’re smart. You’re capable of multi-tasking and managing people and working with clients. That’s great. But if you hire someone because they’re “just like you” you wind up with two people who want to be the boss. The best companies have a variety of people with different personalities and skill sets. One person is the visionary. One is the detail oriented one who checks all the documents and makes sure the deadlines are being met. One is the people person who manages employees. One is the logistics expert who directs traffic. They’re going to be different from you and that’s a good thing.
4. Thinking You Can Do It All: Along the same lines as number three is thinking you can do it all. You don’t need no stinkin’ lawyer, you can download legal documents off the Internet. You don’t need a marketing person, you know your company better than anyone. You don’t need an accountant, you have software for that. Um…okay. But there are things those marketing people know about your audience and the best channels and approaches to reach them. There are things the lawyer and the accountant know that can save you big trouble and big expense. These are not things you can just Google, because you don’t even know what to Google. Be the business owner and hire other people to do the other stuff.
5. Working to Burnout: Again, if you’re doing all of these things, and working 27 hours a day and trying to be everyone’s best friend, you’re going to burn out. In fact, even if you’re just being the business owner, you’re at big risk of burning out. Don’t forget that a lot of insight and creativity happens when you walk away from the workplace and go play tennis or take a nap or read a book. Suddenly the question that was knotted up in your brain is released and an answer flows sweetly through your cranium. This isn’t just me saying this, there’s a lot of research to back it. I know it’s hard to get away but, scientifically speaking, you need rest to be the best small business owner you can.
Everybody makes mistakes. But some of them can be avoided. And if you could use any help sorting out the HR aspects of your relationships with employees, give us a call.
We work with companies on a project basis or on retainer, providing a custom level of HR help designed for your business, with offices in Austin, San Antonio, Dallas and Houston. Contact me at Caroline@valentinehr.com or call (512) 420-8267
One Response to “Five Mistakes of Small Business Owners”
Just want to say how awesome your blogs are. You are a great writer and oh-so-right (IMO). I do not yet have clients big enough to justify the price of HR Consultants (I know, guilty of the bootstrapping thing), but I will someday!
(Advanced Level Professional Bookkeeper)