Biggest Small Business Hiring Mistake

So you started your own business and it is taking off.  You’re “living your dream” and the excitement is unbelievable!  You’re busy as hell, need someone to assist you badly and it doesn’t help that you’re totally exhausted, regardless of how passionate you are about your business.  What’s more, the growth potential is phenomenal for everyone in your company and you want to find someone you can trust implicitly.  The one thing you don’t have is time.  Wow, that was me back in 1979.


I violated the first rule of management which is: define the position you are seeking to fill very clearly, create a formal job description including expectations and achievement benchmarks, and annotate the skill-set and other criteria necessary to fill the position.  In other words, clearly know who you are hiring and what you expect that person to accomplish.


Looking back with the clarity of hindsight, I can see that wanting someone I could trust was a desire because I really didn’t trust my own skills at hiring someone off the street to fill the position.  So, I hired my brother.  Under the pressure and my erroneous assumption that he would be as dedicated and motivated as me, our relationship regressed.  There we were on the playground as children arguing and fighting.  Our split wasn’t amicable.  It ruined everything at the time and took over a decade before my brother and I talked again.


Needless to say, the results of violating the first rule of management were disastrous.  Ironically, I have a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a major in management from a reputable university.  Nevertheless, the excitement, pressure, and exhaustion from 14 to 16 hour workdays had compromised what I learned.  As they say, “it is very hard to clean the swamp when you’re up to your ass in alligators!”


I hope this essay helps you stop, think, and avoid my experience.  Ultimately, with a lot of introspection, integrity, hard work, study, dedication, re-invention, and a commitment to doing the very best work for our clients, along with a terrific dose of good fortune, my business has done very well for the past 35 years.  The road I traveled during those early years, however, became much more difficult because I committed the biggest small business hiring mistake.



© 2012  Steven M. Stroum

Steve Stroum

Steve Stroum

Steven M. Stroum, founder and president of Venmark International is a seasoned publicist, marketer, and entrepreneur who has been featured in INC Magazine, Sales & Marketing Management Magazine, Industrial Marketing, OMNI Magazine, USA Today, The Christian Science Monitor, Boston Globe, Boston Herald, The Middlesex News, San Francisco Chronicle, and other media outlets. He has also appeared on numerous radio and television programs, addressed many business and civic groups, and been a guest lecturer at Boston College, Babson College, MIT, and his alma mater Northeastern University.

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