Imagine this. You are a founder/entrepreneur who has been having to pull 80 hour weeks. You find most of your time taken by menial and routine work in the office. The question of hiring extra staff is even out of your mind completely. In any case, your hustle is still small enough for you alone to manage. You don’t notice your business is growing up with new and unique needs. Yeah! She is slowly outgrowing you and your competencies. You now have to choose to keep it within your control and it will remain small, or you can open up to getting the input of employees who will probably be better at doing things and surprisingly cheaper than you. If you would like to get employees here are a few affordable options for you.
1. Students on Attachments
Most universities and colleges have a requirement that students gain practical experience by being attached in an organization doing work that is relevant to their area of study. It’s unbelievable how hard it is to even get the attachment opportunities in this country, partly because most Micro and Small businesses don’t have plans to absorb such labour. Those students are always full of energy and eager to learn. If you look at them as a possible asset which is at your disposal for 3 months then you might want to put them to good use. Give them the right challenges and they will do something special for you. Do you want to collect data of your market? Do you need clerical work and data capture done? Do you want to do direct marketing and personal selling? Do you need your accounting done? There are students learning all manner of things which might be your points of weaknesses. What is more, you can plan to always have an attaché throughout the year. While at it, pay them something little to buy new shoes and shirts and pay fare. I know they don’t need to be paid but please do. You benefit out of their sweat, paying them something will even motivate you to want to get the best from them.
This country is blessed with huge numbers of youths who are graduating from colleges every year. Universities are graduating around 60k per year and tertiary colleges even many more. The only small challenge is that we are not able to absorb all of them into employment. The Government of Kenya with the support of the World Bank has made it a requirement for government departments to make use of those graduates through internships. Micro and Small businesses can also take advantage of these resources. These interns are very much aware that jobs are tight but are willing to take up the challenge to help you with your business even for free. My advice, please have a small budget for them even if on the minimum pay. Some of these interns are brilliant brains with deep knowledge in areas you didn’t specialize in, just have systems to give them the experience they need while at the same time contributing to the growth of your company. Before engaging them, just have a good plan about it. Again, you can always have interns working for you throughout the year.
If you are an entrepreneur and would like to get an intern you can contact me. We can make a good plan on how you go about getting access to such important assets.
Your business might also be able to benefit from the input of volunteers. There are people who find themselves out of work for whatever reason and would still be willing to take up the challenge your business presents them for some time. Such people may be in between jobs, they may understand that your business may still not be able to afford them but they may be willing to volunteer with you instead of staying home idle. To them, it affords them the chance to be useful, learn new things and fill in that gap in their CV. To you and your business, you get almost free labour and maybe some very important knowledge if you will have a system to tap it. Some volunteers may be disruptive but that happens if only you don’t have a good labour plan and you end up getting the wrong ones.
4. Part timers
Did you know you can also employ people on part time? You can have an arrangement whereby someone comes a few days in a week or a few hours in a day. At the informal sector of our economy this system works best. I have seen guys who will wake up at 3 am make enough chapatis for those “hotels’” then by 6 am they will have finished, changed and hit the streets either looking for another job or parking at a ‘base’ with” majamaas”. In in the formal sector universities and colleges are employing a lot of part time lecturers. Part timing enables efficient use of labour and allows for both the employer and employee to give and get value. So many people employed today are only useful for a few hours a day. The rest of the time they are on social media or busy bodies in the offices. School drivers are only useful 2 hours in the morning and 2 hours in the evening. As an entrepreneur, you have to try to get the best possible bargain for labour. On a small budget you will be able to get good employees on part time. Try it.
5. Retired seniors
This should be interesting. There are so many people with great experience and wisdom out there who are still willing and able to work but are retired by virtue of age. Those senior experts are still capable of helping you build your business since they come with the benefit of having been there done that on a big scale. If you haven’t watched the movie “The Intern” please watch it. It’s a nice movie on how a retired senior gets an internship in a new whole world of IT which he knew nothing about. Incredibly, he is the one who eventually saves that firm from imminent collapse and steers it to growth. Some of this seniors will even be happy to volunteer at no pay.
Bonus (comes as a late addition)
Many enterprises usually bite more than they can chew especially in the early stages: You do not have necessary resources to get the best talent, the best machines and equipment and even getting decent and sufficient space is a struggle. Why then go through all that? Outsourcing your work will take away some of the pressure. The many options for outsourcing includes getting consultants for short term engagements. Freelancers can also play a huge role in growing your biz. How about outsourcing some support functions to smaller firms to whom that may be their core functions eg cleaning and security companies, taxis etc. Interestingly, you can also outsource all or part of production to firms with the competencies and extra capacities. Just develop your design and they produce it for you.
For those running growth oriented businesses and would be interested in getting the input of senior experts talk to me. I have the possibility to get you experts from Germany in over 50 disciplines who will come and support you for a period of up to 4 months in a year. Find more info here.
Have you ever heard employees complain about how they are being underutilized at their current work place? How would you like to imagine you are underutilizing your employees? It’s a big concern for most. I am sure everyone knows that one former colleague (even) intern who was special in a way and could have contributed immensely to the growth of the company but they just went with all they had. Some of your employees will have good intentions to grow your business that is why they push themselves and take on even more challenges. It’s good for the esteem if you see yourself making a mark at your work. However, the challenge with most entrepreneurs is that they are so tunneled in what they consider their core business they hardly take suggestions. They are the know it all and see it all. What they don’t realize is that some of their employees might come with special knowledge or an exception talent which is hardly used. Smart entrepreneurs are able to tap that knowledge and multiply it within the organization. A good knowledge management system helps in building the intellectual capital of the business.
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