William N. Topaz
Former President and CEO myownbusiness.org

What mistakes do you find businesses make when hiring people?

I would like to talk about two major mistakes that I find that a lot of small businesses make. When a small business starts out a lot of the owners are kind of prone to hiring maybe friends, families or close relative or people that other people they know recommend and they probably do that because its an easy way to do that than doing the hard work of actually running ads, and screening people and interviewing. And a lot of small businesses will take those peoples who are referred to them and build a box, a job description around that person based on what they can do. Here at My Own Business we talk about the importance of job descriptions, it's really important to describe the job, build the box and that organizational chart, find then the person who fits those abilities and those skill sets and who can do that job. When you build a job around a person you know it almost always leads to problems later on. So that's one thing. Another important thing is as you're building your staff and your employee workforce; really look at it at over a long term, over a continuum over time because whatever policies you set at the beginning you're going to have to live with over one year, two years, five years. A lot of small businesses when they start tend to be kind of paternalistic and perhaps give a very nice, very generous benefits but perhaps those are benefits that when times get really tough have to be taken away or policies and benefits that are appropriate for 3 or 4 employees may not always be appropriate for a place when you have 15, 20 or 25 employees. So really think of the consequences of your policies and benefits 5 years down the line, 6 years down the line. You can always add benefits but employees get very upset when you take stuff away so think through over that time period what to do.