» How to Get Big Results with a Small Team

Pro to Pro Insights

Leila Lewis, photo by Valorie Darling PhotographyThis post was written by Leila Lewis of Be Inspired PR. As a business school graduate from Santa Clara University, Leila (Khalil) Lewis’ career began in publishing, where she worked in marketing and editorial roles for business and lifestyle publications. Since transitioning into the wedding business in 2004, Leila has over 10 years of wedding marketing experience under her belt, and is the industry’s go-to for wedding public relations services, brand development and business consulting.

Be Inspired started with just two employees, and over the years we’ve grown into a team of 12 and the majority of my employees have been with me for many years. Through all the growth, I’ve learned that having a quality team is more important than having a large team.

How to Get Big Results with a Small TeamIf you follow my tips you can make your smaller team more successful than ever.

  1. Don’t hire based on resume

With any team, especially smaller ones, you need to be extra picky when hiring new employees. If your team is small, you need hard workers who will thrive in your environment. Their resume may read perfect experience for the position, but if their personality does not fit with the rest of your team, it’s not going to work out. One person who doesn’t fit into the work environment can throw the whole thing off and negatively affect your business. Understand your business’ culture and be specific.

  1. R-E-S-P-E-C-T

With a smaller team, you are most likely sharing a space with the same people 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. To prevent burnout and frustration with each other, create a company culture based upon respect. There is a time and place to for personal conversations and the more respect within the company, the easier it will be for your employees to understand boundaries.

  1. Have Company Outings

At Be Inspired PR, we’re all about having fun outings together as a squad. We’ve gone on a whale watching trip, done sweat-dripping work out classes, and most recently had a pool party! It’s a great way to just let loose out of the office and have some fun. But company get-togethers can be in office too! Whether it’s walking to a local favorite restaurant or ordering in, group lunches are the perfect way to strengthen the feeling of being a team.

  1. Keep it simple

When you have a small team it’s crucial that everyone is clear about their tasks and responsibilities. That way nobody steps on anybody’s toes and there is a clear sense of who is leading what. Of course, there are always opportunities for collaboration, but for everyday tasks it’s more successful to keep things streamlined.

A small team can be just as successful as a big one when managed in the right way. Maintain the respect between your employees, but also treat them well. With a small team, it may seem easier to manage, but it’s crucial that everyone pulls their own weight.

» Training Staff to Align with Your Brand

Pro to Pro Insights

Jennifer Taylor, Taylor'd Events GroupThis post was written by Jennifer Taylor. Jennifer Taylor is the owner of Taylor’d Events Group, a planning firm that specializes in celebrations of all kinds in the Pacific Northwest and Maui.

Last month, we discussed the importance of having policies and procedures set in place to help streamline your business processes and guarantee that all team members are on the same page. Having a strong foundation is key to building a well-trained staff, which can be invaluable when looking to expand your company.

Training Staff to Align with Your BrandNot only does a well-trained staff bring a consistently positive client experience, but they’ll also be privy to the company’s roadmap for the future. Although wedding planning involves a number of moving pieces, laying out expectations in advance can provide a structure to support the ever-changing atmosphere of the industry.

One of the very best ways to train your staff is to take them on as interns from the get-go, rather than hiring them on as employees right away. This allows each of you to go through a trial period – while you evaluate their performance and determine if they’re a fit for your brand, they also have the opportunity to decide if your company is best suited for them. View this as a teaching period – provide them with lessons and gauge how well they learn. Be sure to get feedback from clients during the event, as they may have the best idea of how helpful the interns were.

Once hired, it’s crucial to continue empowering your employees and providing them with an atmosphere that fosters their creativity and their independence. You should have systems in place that allows them to work on their own, but you’ll still want to check in consistently to ensure that they’re working and producing the best work possible. Give them the tools to succeed, but let your team evolve based upon their own planning preferences. Everybody operates differently, so it’s especially important to value each and every person for what they bring to the table.

We provide supplemental training guides in the way of onboarding handbooks and training sessions with ourselves and with our trusted vendors. This gives them a bit of hands-on experience before truly putting them to the test and they appreciate the chance to learn from those they will be working with later down the line.

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» Building a Team that Represents Your Brand

This post is by Jennifer Reitmeyer. Jennifer has worked in the wedding industry since 1997. In addition to owning MyDeejay, an award-winning wedding entertainment firm serving the Washington, D.C. market, she also maintains a wedding business blog, WeddingIQ, and a blogging and social media service for wedding businesses, Firebrand Messaging. Jennifer is available for small business coaching, speaking, and writing opportunities. Read more at jenniferreitmeyer.com.

Any business owner knows that hiring the right people is incredibly important to their success. Less clear, however, is exactly how to do it. How can we find good people, train them effectively, and motivate them to represent the brand we’ve worked so hard to create? Here are five steps to building the best team for your business:

Building a Team that Represents Your BrandKnow your brand, inside and out. You certainly can’t expect anyone else to understand your brand if you don’t understand it yourself. And if you don’t understand it, you definitely can’t articulate it to your team! Your brand encompasses what your company does (its service or product), who it serves (your target clientele including demographics, style, budget, buying habits, priorities, and values), how your marketing looks, why you’re different from your competition, and how people perceive your company when they hear its name. Make sure you’re crystal clear on all of these things, so that you can define your brand to the team you’re hiring.

Look for people who are not only good, but good for you. In most wedding-related fields, character traits are as important, if not more important, than education and job skills. You can usually train people on how to do something, but you can’t train them to have the personality, values and qualities that will make them the right fit for your business. I recommend that every business owner identify 3-5 key traits as a starting point for narrowing down new hires – for example, in my DJ business, I chose nice, polished and resourceful. I need genuinely good people, whose appearance and demeanor reflect well on the professionalism of my company’s brand, and who are capable of thinking on their feet and solving problems creatively. My team and I can teach them how to DJ and how to work a wedding, but if they don’t have those three essential qualities, it’s never going to work.

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» New Employee Onboarding Success Tips

New Employee Onboarding Success TipsThe hiring process, from start to finish, can feel like a daunting task. And with so much work going into identifying and hiring that perfect new employee, it’s easy to forget that your job isn’t over when the contract is signed!

New employee onboarding is not often a skill that most wedding professionals have in their realm of experience, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be learned. Use these new employee onboarding success tips to set yourself (and your new hire) up for long-term success.

Get a head start

Onboarding a new employee should start before he or she even arrives! The new hire will need to know when to arrive, where to park, how to dress and what to bring on the first day. Make the situation easier for the new hire by providing all this information prior to the first day. Maintain an open and consistent line of communication in the days or weeks leading up to the employee’s first day, and make sure your team is ready internally.

Cover all the basics

In addition to all the HR forms you and the new employee will need to fill out, there are a number of basic steps to take when onboarding a new employee. Even if you have a small store or office, don’t skip the office tour! You’ll need to point out important things like break areas, rest rooms and emergency exits. It’s also important that you go over any emergency procedures with the new employee to keep them up to date on workplace safety. If you have enough employees that it might be confusing for the new hire, provide an organizational chart to show who to report to with questions or issues.

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» HR Tips for Establishing Company Culture

Big Ideas for Small Business HR

HR Tips for Teaching Company CultureFor many wedding professionals, hiring new employees is a simple process of identifying potential candidates based on experience and selecting the most qualified. However, when adding new employees it’s important to be strategic!

If you’re trusting someone other than yourself to work with or manage clients, you should be making sure that person is an extension of you in every way. Often times business owners will bring in new businesses and start the initial contract, but the client ends up dealing with a different employee throughout the rest of the process. This is very common for venues, which often have different sales employees from their day-of coordinators.

Everything you stand for as a business owner or manager should translate to every single employee to ensure that the customer gets the same experience (great experience!) no matter who they speak with at your business. The following HR tips will help your business identify your company culture and values and extend them to each new hire.

Confirm your company’s vision

It may seem old-fashioned to new wedding professionals, but setting a company vision or mission statement is necessary for any small business. Although no one will be grading you on it, it will guide you as you grow and start hiring more employees. If everyone is aware of your company’s vision and the values you strive to emulate, there’s a common goal in everyone’s eyes. There’s less confusion in the long run if employees break from that vision; it’s something to point to as a goal for everyone.

Consider fit, not just experience

When hiring a new employee, don’t just hire based on the resume – consider the candidate’s fit within your company culture. Think about the ideal employee, a person who shares your values and who you can be confident will do the best job representing your business. Is this person willing to go above and beyond what’s required of him or her to satisfy a customer? Even if a candidate meets the requirements, he or she may not be the best fit in your company culture.

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» Top Small Business HR Resources

Big Ideas for Small Business HR

Having human resources programs in place is a requirement as you build your wedding business, but we know that it can be confusing to understand all the roles, requirements and responsibilities. Despite what you think you know, Human Resources is more than just paperwork! If you’re interested in learning more about HR but aren’t sure where to start, check out these top small business HR resources, below:

Top Small Business HR ResourcesDepartment of Labor

First and foremost, it’s important to go straight to the source for a deeper understanding of human resources or any legal questions you may have. The U.S. Department of Labor website offers a number of small business resources to help your business comply with rules and regulations, including answers to everyday HR questions as well as for special situations that your business may not have handled before. Overall, it’s a good place to start when you’re seeking HR advice.

Society for Human Resource Management

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is another great resource for learning more about current news and best practices in human resources. SHRM takes HR knowledge to the next level by sharing content on popular HR topics as well as informs on HR strategy. They also provide templates and tools that help you implement things you learn. In order for you to be successful and keep your employees happy, it’s important to understand both the rules and regulations as well as best practices in the industry – SHRM helps you achieve that!

Monster.com

Whether you’re ready to hire your first employee or your fiftieth, Monster.com is there to help. In addition to being one of the top job board websites, its benefits to companies have come a long way. Your business can post an open position on Monster and accept applicants, or your business can search for applicants to see who’s looking for a job in your area. Even better, you can save those searches so that Monster can match you with new applicants as they appear so you don’t have to constantly monitor! Even if you’re not actively searching for a new employee, Monster has several forums where you can learn more about other HR-related topics.

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» 5 Smart Hiring Tips for Your Wedding Business

Big Ideas for Small Business HR

It’s important to avoid getting so caught up in weddings and events that you don’t find time to evaluate the internal portion of your business. Do you have the right tools in place to work efficiently? Are there new tactics you should consider to help your business be found? Or, most importantly, do you have the people in place to help your business grow?

If you think your wedding business is ready to progress to the next level by hiring some fresh faces, check out our smart hiring tips to make the process simple!

5 Smart Hiring Tips for Your Wedding BusinessAsk your network to help

Whether you’re asking friends and family if they know someone looking for a job or you’re asking another business you admire for hiring tips, leverage your network to help you hire. The best hires are often in the right place at the right time, and you never know who has the perfect connection in mind, waiting to be given the chance. Also, since the wedding industry is much more specialized than most job markets, other Pros might be able to offer some tips for getting your job posting out there on more niche job sites.

Do some interview prep

Especially if you’re planning to have more than one employee involved in the interview, prepare for the interview ahead of time to decide which questions you’d like to ask, what qualifications you’re looking for and other traits you would like in the candidate. Take into account any feedback from employees the candidate would potentially work with to make sure they feel good about the questions you plan to ask, too.

Check out their social profiles

In addition to checking references, many companies in today’s job marketplace will check out candidates’ social media profiles to determine whether or not the candidate is a good fit. These days it’s pretty easy to make your Facebook, Twitter or Instagram account private, but it doesn’t hurt to check for anything unseemly or unprofessional posts. If the candidate’s account is indeed private, don’t pry – just rely on the other resources provided to make your decision. If the candidate’s account is public, it doesn’t hurt to double-check that he or she acting responsibly and seems like a good personality fit.

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» Avoid These Common Small Business Mistakes

Big Ideas for Small Business HR

Avoid These Common Small Business MistakesStarting your own business is exciting and often the result of many years in the wedding industry, where you’ve proven your expertise. You know everything there is to know about your given profession, and you’re ready to share it with the world! Starting your own business, however, doesn’t always mean that you know everything there is to know about owning a business.

Knowing the basics of owning a small business is important. 46% of small businesses fail because of incompetence due to nonpayment of taxes, lack of planning, no knowledge of financing or no experience in record-keeping. 30% of businesses fail because of unbalanced experience or due to lack of managerial experience. It’s best to do your homework before getting started to know exactly what owning your own business means.

Read up on these common small business mistakes to keep your wedding and events business thriving!

Mixing personal and professional accounts

For many one-man (or woman) businesses, it’s easy to co-mingle business accounts with your professional accounts, since both accounts go directly to you. It may be a common practice, but it will cause problems for your business in the long run. You should maintain separate checking accounts and track expenses separately so when tax time rolls around, you’ll be able to see your records easily and file taxes appropriately. It’s also just good business sense – couples feel better about writing checks to businesses, not individuals. The more you separate yourself from your business, the more you will be perceived as a professional wedding business rather than a part-time weekend warrior.

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» Hiring Summer Employees

Big Ideas for Small Business HR

Hiring Summer EmployeesNow that your wedding business has likely had a few busy weeks of events so far, you may be wondering if it’s time to get some summer help! Luckily for you, your busy season coincides with one of the best times of the year for hiring. But even with time on your side, hiring summer employees can still be a tough process.

Maybe you need a summer intern to help with some of the smaller tasks, or maybe you need a full-time employee to assist at events. No matter who you’ll be hiring, use these guidelines to get the process started!

Decide what you need before getting started. Do you need a summer intern, part-time or full-time employee? Is there a possibility of keeping this person after summer ends, or is it strictly a temporary position? Make these decisions up front so you can make sure you’re following all the rules. Interns are different from independent contractors, and independent contractors are different from employees. Do the research to find out which type best fits your business’ needs.

Write your listing and decide where to advertise. Be as descriptive as possible when writing your listing so you get more qualified applications. Your perfect candidate is out there – they just need to know you’re looking for them! A well-placed “Help Wanted” ad can drive a bunch of applications, whether it’s in your local paper or in an online directory. Word of mouth is usually effective for smaller regions, so mention your opening to clients and friends in the industry. Be sure to also list your job opening on your website to catch any applicants who happen upon it!

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» 5 Principles of Good HR

Big Ideas for Small Business HR

5 Principles of Good HRHaving Human Resources programs in place is a requirement as you build your wedding business, and for most it’s not a very exciting aspect of business. We know that it can be confusing to understand the roles, requirements and responsibilities, but Human Resources is more than just paperwork – that’s why we call our Human Resources department the People department!

With all the other aspects of your business on your mind, good HR is probably an afterthought. Below we break down five principles of good HR so you can start taking a more holistic approach to your wedding business.

1. Provide a good hiring experience

Whether you’re hiring your first employee or your hundredth, it’s important that all potential candidates have a good experience. All employees involved in hiring should maintain their professionalism throughout the process. Be responsive and clear in all your communications from the initial inquiry and application to the hiring decision. View every applicant as a potential brand advocate – even if the applicant doesn’t get the job, they’ll be singing your praises to others and looking for your next opening if they have a positive applicant experience with your business.

2. Provide a better employee experience

While providing a good experience for applicants is important, your actual employees deserve an even better experience when they come to work every day. Strive to treat your employees like you would treat your customers to make sure they’re getting what they need for their own professional growth. For many wedding businesses, the employees are in the trenches dealing with all sorts of problems to come up with solutions and are always the representative ‘face’ of your business. Treat them well and they, too, will be your brand advocates!

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» Hiring Your First Employees

Big Ideas for Small Business HR

Hiring Your First Employee

If you’re a small business owner, you likely started your business so you could be your own boss and take your wedding and event business in the direction you wanted most! But with the majority of weddings taking place between April and October, your business is entering the busy season. Is it time to enlist the help of a brave first employee or expand into a small team?

If you’ve hit the critical “breaking point” where you’ve decided you can no longer manage your booming business on your own, you know there’s a whole new list of legal, financial and time obligations associated with bringing on your first employee. It can be a lot to handle – you are, after all, just one person right now – but it doesn’t have to be as stressful as you might think.

To help you navigate these new waters, we’ve created our list of the precautions to keep in mind as you go about hiring your first employees!

Decide on all the details ahead of time

Before you even bring in your first candidate for the position, make sure you have all the details set in your mind (and in the job listing). Come up with a formal list of activities the new employee would be involved in, a “wish list” of skills and experience you’d like the employee to possess, and more specific details like salary and employee classification. Make sure those details are compliant with minimum wage requirements as well as other Department of Labor standards.

Don’t skip the background check

Don’t just rely on your instincts – make sure to do your due diligence when hiring your first employee by performing a background check. While you may feel that a candidate seems trustworthy, there are a lot of liabilities associated with new employees. Anyone you hire is a representative of your business, so you should make sure they represent you in the correct way and, more importantly, keep your business out of potential litigation. For example, firms like Sterling and Intellicorp are examples in the area of background checks, and don’t forget to notify the applicant in writing that you are performing a background check if you do decide to move forward with one (it’s required by law).

Take the time to check references

References can be a huge part of a hiring a new employee, yet they’re often skipped because of time constraints. References can tell you far more than what’s on a candidate’s resume! It’s important to speak with people who know the candidate both professionally and personally to get a good understanding of his or her ability to do the job and everyday personality. Ask the applicant to provide a few references, and make a few phone calls following the interview.

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» 4 Considerations When Growing Your Business

Big Ideas for Small Business HR

With the busy season right around the corner, now may be the time to consider hiring more employees and growing your business. Each year, you should be re-evaluating your business to decide whether or not it’s the right time to make a change. For many newer small businesses, the question is whether you want your business to remain small or aim for growth.

There are a lot of logistics to consider when making these types of decisions, and they often overshadow the more intangible concepts you need to run your business successfully. While considerations like finances and state and federal regulations are obviously important, it’s also important to determine your goals from a human resources perspective.

If you’re ready to take your business to the next level, keep these four considerations in mind to ensure things continue to run smoothly!

4 Considerations When Growing Your BusinessNurture your team’s creativity

Wedding and event professionals are a very rare breed; hard-working, independent, professional, but most of all creative. It takes a lot of creativity to compete in an industry that is constantly evolving and depends so much on trends! Make sure that as your team grows, you continue to foster that creative environment. Seek out new team members with different backgrounds and perspectives, and look for new opportunities to work together with the members of your team to come up with unique ideas.

Be ready to take necessary risks

While your business needs to be strategic in its growth and endeavors, don’t be afraid to take risks. First, be sure to evaluate your business’ position to determine whether or not there’s too much danger to rock the boat, but then be ready to research new possibilities and get out of your comfort zone. You probably took a risk in starting your business, so don’t be afraid to trust yourself again enough to strive for innovation. Avoid becoming complacent and learn from all your ventures, whether successful or not.

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