Jane Shelton

Hopefully your efforts will take you to the next problem – recruiting staff. This can be difficult for the small home-based enterprise. Here are some helpful hints…

Go for growth and new leadership

Jane Shelton

Couldn’t help noticing that the slogan of one political party in the federal election campaign is “Go for growth” and the other is “New leadership” at a time when many home business owners are struggling to find the right new staff member.

Successful recruiting of new team members and the adoption of professional human resource strategies will undoubtedly determine who stays a micro-enterprise and who makes it big.

The trouble is that prospective employees have no reason to help build the business because both major political parties have promised to wipe out unfair dismissal provisions for new starts and micro-enterprises, and the Treasurer has indicated the potential to move towards an open field for all employers who can find any reason for a dismissal on operational grounds.

Too often small business jobs have higher levels of uncertainty, are generally of lower quality than bigger enterprises when measured on objective criteria such as wage levels, employment status, job security, employment conditions, and training and career development opportunities (see Barrett and Khan’s report to the 50th anniversary ICSB Conference in 2005).

Let’s face it, marketing and developing a home business raises special challenges for an isolated home business operator. The home business person often faces these tasks alone. Developing the marketing plan, honing the marketing mix, chasing your target market segments and delivering superior value to customers and customers’ customers.

Simply look at the process of recruiting a new staff member for the home business operator. Finding, recruiting and retaining someone who suits the business and fits in with the existing team can be a major challenge.

Ideally steps for recruiting a new worker for the home business team should include:

  • Design/defining the job role and writing a clear job description.
  • Deciding a remuneration level that offers real growth prospects.
  • Advertising the position to attract high skilled personnel.
  • Screening and interviewing candidates who have the drive to succeed.
  • Negotiating a probation period with clear achievement benchmarks.
  • Selecting and engaging the successful applicants.

Finding the right team members involves selecting employees who will fit into your culture and how you work. The difficult part is getting these motivated people at the right price and the appropriate level by demonstrating that you have clear goals, objectives and key performance indicators (KPIs).

Any advertisement should include the job title, application guidelines, and any required skills for a career developing move. Encourage a wide range of applicants by having clear contact details. It pays to get a post box to protect your home address and privacy so that you can go through the resumes before wasting valuable time on people who are just meeting Centrelink requirements.

Be really clear in your own mind what the job specification for the new employee will need to be, clearly structured against specific job requirements. It is important to clarify the role that the new employee will fulfil – administrative assistance, bookkeeping, and production assistance or business development.

If you can overcome the hassle and time it takes to find and recruit the right person then, and even after you’ve offered them the position, they may still need to give notice at their existing job and then have time to learn your business. The process for someone to come on board can easily take three months, getting up to speed with how you do things can take even longer.

You need to think about whether your business affords the costs of engaging a new employee, including:

  • Base salary.
  • Bonus and incentive structures.
  • PAYG.
  • Superannuation.
  • Leave loadings .
  • Additional administration costs – paper work for engagement.
  • Reimbursement of your employee’s work-related expenses.
  • Additional communication costs – mobile phones.
  • Increased equipment costs – computer, software.
  • Furniture and office space.

Your house and workspace may need an overhaul to accommodate an additional person. Consider staff rooms and facilities, working from their own home part-time and fitting in with your schedule.

Or alternatively you may be able to seek an arrangement where your new staff members operate from their home. Don’t forget that before you engage any new employees, you need to check their goal alignment and reduce mismatches between goal attainment and performance.

You also need to decide on the initial salary or wage that will be offered and the make-up of the growth path that will be offered to successful team members.

Will it be a low base salary with a high component of bonus tied to achievement of goals and targets that are clearly stated or a higher average salary on an individual work contract? This is where you will need to ask around to see what the going rate is in the employment market for the kind of job you are offering, and then negotiate individual career development expectations.

Good luck with finding the enthusiastic team members that will help your business grow and hopefully make it into the top 5% of success stories.


Dr Jane Shelton not only runs a business from home but is doing business research into people working from home. She is managing director of Marshall Place Associates, Melbourne’s independent think tank, and CEO (honourary) for ‘Life. Be in it.’ International. Shelton has a Doctorate in Business Administration at the Australian Graduate School of Entrepreneurship (AGSE) at Swinburne University of Technology after a Master of Arts in Public Policy at Melbourne University and a Bachelor of Business in banking and finance at Monash University.

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