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Ask James Caan 14th March 2011

Written by Kimberley Startup | March 14, 2011 | 0 Comments

Web RecruitmentThis week , James Caan advises budding business men and women on the basics of employing their first member of staff.

Dear Member,

This week I’d like to turn your attention to some of the issues faced by budding entrepreneurs looking to cope with the current economic period, thanks to a letter I received from Duncan.

Duncan is the Co-Founder of Digital Entrepreneur (, an exciting one stop shop for budding businessmen and women looking to set up online. He contacted me to ask me my thoughts on new business start-ups and when the right time is to employ your first member of staff.

The sad fact is that thousands of businesses in the UK will fail in 2011. It’s a daunting prospect, but the harsh reality is some business owners are not equipped to drive their company through difficult times. Yet I really do think we can stimulate the British economy if entrepreneurship is able to flourish, and if SME business owners take on board everything they can.

Throughout my career I have learnt a number of valuable lessons which have helped me to develop my skills in order to make the most of my experiences.

One of which was knowing when to bring on board an extra pair of hands. For example, when I set up my first business, Alexander Mann, I felt that once I had employed my first member of staff I could really say I had become successful. My first recruit was a PA, someone to deal with all the things I couldn’t get around to. They focused on the operations and organisation of the company, thus allowing me to go out and win more business. It made business sense.

Duncan raised some very interesting points when it came to hiring. The first thing is to keep your eye on your cost base: you still need to pay rent, electricity, insurance etc. So if you are going to recruit someone, keep costs at the forefront of your mind.

Appointing someone full time can be a big investment, so it’s important to map out exactly what function they’d play, and what value they’d deliver. You would need to make sure they can take away the day-to-day tasks from you, depending on their specialism, to allow you to concentrate on growing the business.

Part time workers are another great investment. You don’t have to commit to a full time salary and you could find a really good worker – someone who is near to retirement and wants to take a step back, or perhaps someone who wishes to fit their work around family commitments.

Freelancers are also a terrific way to get special projects underway or inject further expertise. They can, however, sometimes be difficult to manage or unable to meet your deadlines – so if you choose to go down this route, consider your options carefully.

Bringing someone else onto the team can also add so much value, after all, what entrepreneur can honestly say they know it all? The best business men and women recognise this. The difficulty is, however, identifying the skill set your business will benefit from most.

A successful entrepreneur is not someone who is looking to take the easy route and be part of the crowd. They are someone who is willing to stand out and is happy to learn as much as they can, from as many people as they can.

If you’re an aspiring entrepreneur seeking advice on how to run a business, I really do recommend visiting Duncan’s site and seeing just what knowledge and tips the guys at Digital Entrepreneur can share.

Good luck,

James Caan

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