As an SME don’t assume soft skills

As a business owner, it can be hard to expand for a few reasons. One of the main reasons it has been reported is due to the lack of ability to let go of certain tasks (yes you the control freak we are talking to you!). As cited here:

It makes perfect sense really, you had the business idea, you took the risk and put everything on the line to get the business going and you did everything to get it off the ground. As you grow you realise you can’t do everything, so you need to start bringing on other people to do the things you aren’t that good at, so they free you up to focus on what you are good at and continue to grow the business.

And that’s where the panic sets in right? You are taking a gamble by hiring new people into your closely-knit fold and you are going to expose your customers to them. The very same customers you have sweated blood and tears to win and keep. Hopefully, you have hired the right person and they are good at what they do and you can let them get on it with it while you go back to doing what you are good and grow the business.

Its usually about here where the wheels start to come off for one of two reasons; either you are so busy you didn’t follow the correct process to hire the correct person and now you have to micromanage them within an inch of their life while the work you should be doing is piling up or you hired the right person and made a massive assumption they have all the skills needed so you let them go. Let’s face it you are flat out still doing a million other things and spinning plates left right and centre and training is the last thing you have time or money for.

Can you hear that crashing sound? Yes, that’s the sound of your plates all coming off as you realise you need to be firefighting the issues you are getting from you beloved customers because all of a sudden it becomes apparent they aren’t managing or treating the customers they way you would be.

What’s the cost of this very common mistake? A LOT! Your time, frustration, loss of productivity let alone the cost of lost hard-earned customers.

So, what’s the answer? Well as a small business owner I have started a few companies over the years and one thing I always made sure we did was train our staff. Now, this is easier for us because we are a training company, but it made perfect sense to me that before I put anyone in front of the customers I had worked so hard to get I wanted the staff member to know exactly how I wanted them managed. This went for every customer touchpoint of the business from the way the phone was answered to the account management process to the sales process.

Training is the key, don’t assume just because someone is good at the task they do that he or she are automatically going to treat your customers the way you want them to, that’s called ESP and you will pay a lot more for that in your recruitment process!

As a small to medium size business training is hard. You don’t have the time (reference back to plate spinning) you don’t have the budgets to send people off on day-long courses and a lot of the time you don’t really know what they should be trained on anyway so why risk the money on something that may not work?

As a small business owner that’s why I started LearningPlanet, to meet all those fears and remove all those barriers. I wish I had a similar tool to this when I first started, it would have made my life (and my staffs) lives so much easier!