Of the many times I have decided to start a business, I have not discussed many that have failed. This is a good week to share one particular experience. It relates to hiring. I had built up a property management company and it was growing quickly. Even better, one of the accounts had a lot of maintenance work to do. There was so much that I could see the opportunity to spin out a maintenance company if I could find the right person to manage it.
Start a Business: Things Gone Right
I can rush into things quickly, so I forced myself to slow down. I wrote the business plan and checked it with those I knew in the handyman/maintenance business. I figured out what the growth cycle should look like. I took the time to incorporate and get insurance. I even created a profile of the first person that I would hire to start the business.
Start a Business: Things Gone Wrong
My hiring process went the wrong way. I usually place a Craigslist advertisement, make at least 20-30 phone interviews, cycle that down to 10 face to face interviews and invite 5 back before I make an offer. I skipped all of this because a few people in my networking group recommended a person to me. I thought highly of the people who though highly of the person. He seemed to have the right background and I thought that I could work with him. I decided to give him a chance. Do you see the error here? I didn’t check his background (he actually left the previous place on a disagreement – warning!).
The person was a genuinely nice guy and a pretty good salesperson. He just fell apart when it came time to deliver. My fault was not seeing that the bad behaviors from the beginning were never going to get better. It took me a bunch of complaints, four months of stress, and around $50,000 in salary and expenses to learn this lesson. I should have set a firm 30 day probation with goals that, if not met, would mean that we’d have to part ways.
Start a Business: You Can Always Adapt
At the end, I finally had to set some clear guidelines. They were things like, “If you don’t bring in payment for that job, we’re going to have to stop.” He ended up realizing that he hadn’t met our agreed upon criteria. I ended up shutting down the maintenance business and going back to how things were before. Note: I still love the idea of that business!
What mistakes have you made when you decided to start a business? Let me know.