Hire Slowly

The key for us, number one, has always been hiring very smart people. - Bill Gates

In this section, you could easily get the impression I am an ungrateful ogre of a boss. I am not. I have had some brilliant employees without whose help I would not be where I am today.

I have helped many of my former employees (several of whom are now millionaires) in countless ways: from loans to buying them cars to paying emergency vet bills. I have paid many people very well, trained many in new skills, and been flexible with time off and bonuses—but that’s for the good ones, the keepers. These will, unfortunately, be among the minority of people you hire. But you can minimize your pain. You want to be careful when hiring as, make no mistake about it, the vast majority of your headaches will come from your employees’ performance or lack of it, NOT YOURS.

One of the most common mistakes I see entrepreneurs make is hiring staff—before they are absolutely necessary. I know everyone keeps telling you that you need more office space, more people, or newer machines, but they lie!

  • They lie because they are lazy.
  • They lie because they think they are working “too hard.”
  • They lie because they sometimes have to stay past 5 p.m.
  • They lie because they want bigger offices.
  • They lie because they want newer, faster, trendier gadgets.
  • They lie because their friends really need a job.
  • Most important of all, they lie because they are NOT the ones paying the bills—YOU are!

It’s not that they mean to mislead you; it’s just human nature to want others to share in the work or to want new, bigger and better tools, offices, and equipment. Over the years at various times, we have lost employees who moved, changed jobs, went back to school, or left for other reasons. In some cases, more than one person left about the same time, and yet the work still got done without replacing them.

By all means, start the hiring process, update resume files, and interview some people to get an idea who might be a good fit, but do not hire until you absolutely must.

Downsize quickly; upsize slowly.

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