You started your business, now what?

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National Small Business Week kicks off on May 4, and this is the time to not only celebrate all that you’ve don’t to get to this point, but also reflect on how you can take your business to the next level. Below are some tips to put you in the right direction.

Hiring the right people

A poor hiring decision will affect your bottom line. Not only will have you wasted your time and money in the recruiting and hiring process, you now will have to spend time fixing the problem. There are a number of things you can do to assist yourself in selecting the best candidate for your needs. Some of the more common ones are resume screening, interviewing, testing and reference checking.

The purpose of screening a resume is to determine if the applicant has the basic knowledge and skills needed to do the job you’re trying to fill. You should establish a list of qualifications that a successful candidate must have in order to do the job. Look for these qualifications when reviewing resumes.

When interviewing, stick to the 80/20 rule: the candidate should be doing 80 percent of the talking, while you ask questions and guide the process for the other 20 percent. Most of your questions should be open-ended to encourage discussion. These questions usually begin with “who,” “what,” “when,” “where,” “tell me about” or “describe.” Closed questions are used only when you require a specific yes or no answer. All of your questions must be related to the needs of your job and not personal.

Administering a test may help in understanding if the candidate is qualified, skilled enough or has the abilities to perform the job for which you are hiring. Testing can range from designing a fake ad to a writing test, so it is important that you determine whether testing is necessary for the position you are hiring for.

Check at least two business references on each finalist. By checking references, you are validating the information you have received to ensure that your candidate has the knowledge, skills and attitude they have presented.

Using social media to grow your business

If you’re new to social media marketing you might believe that a few blog posts, daily, random status updates, and a healthy number of “followers” and “likes” are going to magically grow your business. Serious online marketers know that in order to harness the power of social media you need to incorporate a deliberate mixture of listening to your audience, sharing your relevant message and enabling others to share your relevant message. Whether you’re a large business or a lone entrepreneur, social media marketing can be the most inexpensive and powerful marketing tool in your arsenal to build the trust and authority that, in the best case, helps exponentially grow your business.

Bringing the right team of professionals

Creating a startup and growing a business is lofty task and one that will require an entrepreneur to wear many hats. The question you should be asking is not if you need to build a team, but rather how to build and select the right team.

The first step is the most important. You need to take an honest and frank assessment of yourself. Put your ego aside and ask: What skills do I lack? Get a good lawyer, accountant, and banker. These people can help you protect your company, ensure its viability, and finance your idea. Find professionals who have experience in your industry and understand your company, product, or service.

Secondly, make sure the people working with you actually believe in your idea. You’d be surprised how many entrepreneurs hire or partner with someone who they think has the right experience, but the person doesn’t believe in the idea strongly.

Building a team with fellow business professionals you respect and admire.

Continuing education for entrepreneurs

You need to stay on top of the latest developments in your industry and you only benefit yourself by increasing your knowledge and diversifying your skill set.

If you feel a bit regretful that you didn’t quite make the most of your college coursework, you don’t have to keep beating your 20-year-old self up for missing lectures and skipping classes anymore. Some platforms provide free access to university courses from around the United States. These courses function just like online courses current college students take, complete with lectures, assignments, quizzes, and exams.

You can also search on YouTube to find tutorials or filmed instructions on how to accomplish specific tasks.  Or, get on Twitter or Meetup and search for organized groups and scheduled chats that are specific to your industry (and then participate in them).

You can even listen to podcasts that discuss issues you want to know more about, like finance, entrepreneurship, cooking, etc.

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