A micro business is a small business of under ten employees and is the smallest type of small business! There were estimated to be 5.6 million private-sector UK businesses in 2021, and 4.2 million of these were not expected to have any employees. So, that's over 4 million micro-businesses right there! Micro-businesses might be start-ups, young companies or family businesses, but regardless of their roots, there are some simple ways to build and develop strong micro business teams.
The highs and lows of running a micro-business
There are pros and, of course, cons to running a micro-business. You can grow and develop as you choose and build a culture that you want to work in. There's also the simple operation and lack of hierarchy, both of which reduce red tape, prolonged decision making and company politics! However, running a micro business can mean a lack of experience in certain functions, a small budget to pay potential employees and the need to be a jack of all trades!
What are you?
Firstly, you need to consider where you see your business going and which functions you can manage, and which ones need dedicated support. For example, will you manage your HR, marketing, finance and IT functions, or should you delegate to an expert?
If you're looking to grow, what are your expectations for employee growth and over what period? It's vital to consider this early on because you don't want to go out and hire lots of staff only to realise it doesn't fit your business model, workload, culture or budget!
Consider what help you need
So, once you've established that you want to grow (but remain as a micro business), it's time to get cracking on the growth.
When running a micro-business, and there's only you or just a couple of employees, assess what functions you need help with. Think hard about what you're missing. And once you pinpoint where you need assistance, you can decide whether to hire an employee or outsource to a freelancer or consultant.
Ignore the myths in your head
You know your business plan, budget and projected earnings. You know that you can expand and afford to take on individuals to help you grow. Ignore the thoughts and fears that tell you you shouldn't be taking on help. Ignore others who might convince you to 'play safe'. Banish the worries that recruiting and employing others is too stressful or expensive.
It's doable; you just need to know-how.
Write a job description
It doesn't need to be perfect but do write down what the job is and what it entails. Then, you can decide on the essential skills and experience the ideal hire might have. Be careful not to overlook the person specification so consider your culture and a 'cultural fit'. If you need help with this stage, an HR specialist can assist and advise on it.
Where and when?
Next, consider other factors for the job description, such as whether it's a full-time, part-time, contract or permanent role. Think about the location and whether you need someone to work on your premises or whether they could work flexibly, remotely or in a hybrid role, spending time remotely and in your workplace.
Add these details to the job description.
How to hire
It's easy to be overwhelmed by the options available as there's recruitment agencies, websites, social media, amongst many. So, consider where your ideal candidate might be searching for work and then try these suggestions:
· Networking – If you belong to networking groups, chat with people to see if they can help you or recommend someone. Find your local Chamber of Commerce and get talking!
· Social media - LinkedIn might be the perfect place to find what you're looking for or other social media channels.
· Job sites – Again, consider where your type of recruit might be searching. If it's a niche role, you may have to search specific websites. Alternatively, there are many general job sites. And advertise it on your company website, too (it's a double win if you find someone that way and attract more traffic!).
Or, if this sounds too time-consuming and you're not sure you have the expertise to hire someone, outsource it to an HR specialist and let them come to you with the shortlist. They can also advise you on interview skills, how to create contracts, payroll etc.
Don't underestimate cultural fit
Don't hire the first person you see or like! It's essential to spend time investing in hiring the 'right' person, but this is especially important in a micro-business as there's nowhere to hide, and turnover can be costly!
When you're sifting through CVs or discussing with a recruiter what you're looking for, rank cultural fit high on your list. Yes, you need someone with the right qualifications and experience, but you also need someone who will fit in your (small!) team. You want joiners who contribute to your culture, drive it and thrive in it. If you're dynamic, fast-paced with open communication and a passion for growth, you need people who want this culture and will fit in.
Once you have a team member/s
Whether you've taken on a freelancer, consultant or employee, the next step is to adapt your mindset from working either alone or with a couple of others. This is a crucial stage, as you've invested in hiring the right person, but you can't necessarily leave them to get on with everything without some initial discussions and regular catch-ups.
· How do you include them in decisions and day-to-day productivity?
· How do you communicate with them, update them and delegate?
· What culture do you want to build, and how can they be included in this?
· How do you work alongside them, and how often will you need to catch up on work and progress?
· Have you set them individual goals, and do they understand how they contribute to the business?
· How are you giving them feedback?
You're small, you're a micro-business, and there are huge pluses to that. You can openly communicate with all team members as you're not dealing with masses of employees! Communicate with them regularly about where the business is (in terms of financials, growth, plans) and create an open culture where your people are used to asking questions.
Keep your people engaged by updating them on big and small wins, be honest about losses and ask for feedback. For example, if a team member sees an opportunity for growth or believes there's an area where you need more support, listen to them. In micro-businesses, team members can spot the daily threats and opportunities often lost in a large company.
Lead by example
We've all heard the expression, 'walk the walk' but don't underestimate it! Be a role model for your people and be friendly and approachable. If you've never led a team before, it might be worth investing in some management training to help you. And remember that you've all got different skills and you can learn from each other.
Motivate your team with get-togethers (you don't have to hit your budget hard to socialise!) and encourage team members to spend time getting to know each other. And it may sound simple, but talk about the business team as 'we' rather than 'I' to create a sense of togetherness that can build engagement and trust.
Micro businesses are exciting, and it's up to you to grow and nurture your micro business and shape the way you want it to develop. If you've taken over a family business or a business that's been run the same way for years, it's time for a change of mindset. Don't be afraid to hire either new people or establish new roles if required. Start thinking about working on the business rather than just being in the business, and don't underestimate the power of a strong team.
If you need help to grow your micro business, please get in touch as we can help!