My dad was an attorney who built his own practice from the ground up. He became a pillar in the community, and was admired and respected by all as a businessman and civic leader. He and my mom always told me I could be whatever I wanted to be. Although he held out hope I would come back to our hometown and take over his practice, when that wasn't my dream, he encouraged me to pursue a career in broadcasting.
Later, when I decided to start my own company, I had an opportunity to have a new kind of conversation with my dad, entrepreneur to entrepreneur. In the early days of my business, though I'd always loved and admired him deeply, I gained an entirely new appreciation for what he had done. He had figured out so many things on his own. His parents were both educators, so they were smart and supportive, but they didn't know anything about running a business. In my dad, I now had a built-in advisor who not only loved me, but had been there.
I was amazed at how even though his was a law practice, the issues were the same. Take hiring. One time, I was sweating out whether to hire a couple of new, really terrific consultants. We didn't have work for them yet. They were a good fit. But it was a risk.
My dad said, "You know, most business people wait until they have business in the door to hire the employees. My philosophy has always been a little different," he said. "How so?" I asked. "If I have great people, I have the confidence to go out and bring in new clients," he reflected. "I know if I have them in place and they're already up to speed, they are going to deliver the service that has made our firm successful."
Although he died now nearly five years ago, I think of him every day, and try to imagine, "What would my dad do?" When it comes to hiring, I think he would tell me that it is always a good time to hire A plus people. The greatest risk to your business isn't hiring them, but losing them, especially to the competition.
There is a lot of fear about hiring that lingers on in our bumpy economy. But another thing I learned by watching my dad was that when you take the leap, your team sees it as a good thing. You send a message that your standards are high, that you're not afraid of moving forward in the business. And, they get to work with people who are like them - high caliber.
The search for great employees is always on. When we find them we should never hesitate.