As with most people who decide to set up business on their own, the reason HR professionals set up their own HR consultancy is because they are really good at what they do, and they enjoy it. It’s the same for most people, when starting a new business, or deciding to go it alone, they choose the thing they are best at; the thing they know most about, because of course their chances of success are much higher. Expert knowledge and experience go a long way, and an interest in and passion for your area of expertise can also be enormously helpful, especially when times are tough.
I don’t think I’d be any good at running a cleaning business or a dog grooming parlour, nor would I probably enjoy it, but I know my stuff when it comes to HR, I have lots of experience advising managers and directors on the kinds of things I come across every day, and I enjoy it. So far so good.
The trouble with that is that when you start your own business doing whatever it is you are good at, you suddenly find you spend much less time than you thought actually doing that, and a lot more time doing all sorts of other things you have no experience in or knowledge of. Almost every small business client I’ve ever had has said something similar.
For some business owners that might be marketing, or it might be the finance side, or it might be employing people. For HR consultants, your strength is HR – you know about employment law, you know about managing people, you know about recruitment, compensation and benefits, redundancy and maternity leave. What most HR consultants don’t know about is marketing, accounts, website design and many of the other aspects of running a business.
So what’s the solution? You want to spend more time doing the thing you are actually good at, because actually, that’s why you set up a business in it in the first place, right? What I discovered fairly soon after I started face2faceHR is that getting as much done as possible by people who do actually know about those things is fantastic, as it makes sure they are done most efficiently, and frees me up to do the things I’m good at. So outsourcing to good people is definitely key.
The other thing I discovered, a bit more slowly, is that for those business-running things you have to do, because either they can’t be outsourced or because in the early days it might not be financially viable for you to outsource, getting as much knowledge as possible about what you have to do and the best way of doing it is crucial.
There’s a plethora of books and articles available on running a business, some better than others, and if you go to business networking groups or events, you’ll probably come across a lot of speakers purporting to be experts in something you might find useful. Some of them are fantastic and inspiring, but they do vary in quality and sorting the wheat from the chaff can be difficult and also involving a bit of trial and error. Advice is not usually directly related to your type of business either so might not be relevant or might need adapting to work for you.
One good thing about a franchise option for your business is that you are benefiting from others who have been there, done that and know exactly what works, what doesn’t work, and how to do it right. It also often gives you access to outsourcing options that would not normally be available to you until much later in the development of your business.
So if you’re thinking of starting your own business, make sure you are fully aware of exactly how much time you might need to spend doing things that you don’t know much about, and don’t much like, and consider early on options to reduce that so you can do what you’re good at and make a success of it.