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Power User Spotlight: Hiring for Technical and Soft Skills

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Power User Spotlight: Hiring for Technical and Soft Skills

Published: June 10, 2010

Bienvenido David successfully started and currently runs two online businesses. He started his first business, an e-commerce website selling karaoke equipment, as a side project while he was employed full-time. He eventually quit his job to found a small business IT consulting firm, TeamEXtension.

Better known as teamextension on the Business.gov Community, Mr. David often contributes to technical conversations about starting a business and online businesses. Here is what he has to say about how to hire the right staff and the ingredients to business success.

Why did you decide to start your own business?

When I was working full time as a computer programmer and manager, I was only involved in the technical aspects. I had normal 9-5 business hours. I received a paycheck and a bonus for a job well done that sometimes equated to the effort I put in.

I wanted more control over what I did. I needed a new challenge. Starting my own business meant that I could work on both the technical and the business aspects. I could see the fruits of my labor, even though it meant working overtime. With that, I decided to become a full-time business owner.

What is the toughest challenge you faced in your experience as a small business owner? How did you meet that challenge?

My toughest challenge was starting up. I think the sheer number of moving parts and amount of detail involved was daunting and nerve-wracking. Coming up with a business plan, charting the future trajectory of my business, and finding customers are no walks in the park. Especially when it came to finding my first customers, I struggled with deciding what my ideal customer looked like and how I should pursue that particular niche market. I feel that many business owners share similar problems.

The best way to beat it is to find the best system for you to organize business issues. I found that making a project list helped me a lot. If hiring employees is an option, delegating work to them also makes life easier. I was lucky enough to have enough capital to hire contractors to take a bit off my shoulders.

Many of our Community members ask us about ways to finance their business. Can you share with us how you financed your startup?

Money is always an issue. Fortunately, I was able to finance my e-commerce and online consulting businesses through savings. Online businesses cost much less than other types of startups. Since you do;t need a front store, you save a decent amount on rental space.

Recently, one member asked the Community how you attract and hire the best staff. What has been your experience hiring? Specifically, how do you hire employees?

Generally, I look at two types of qualities in a potential employee: technical and soft. Each industry and business type has their particular technical criteria to hiring a good employee. For my line of business, I give them a series of problems to test their abilities to solve issues my clients face.

Regardless of industry, business owners tend to want the same soft skills in an employee. When I interview, I look for team players, clear communicators, and independent and personable people. While the technical side is very important, I want employees who work well with my client, my team, and me. Independence is also high on my list because running a business is difficult enough. Saving time and effort from micromanaging an employee is a must-have.

What makes a successful business?

You need all the right ingredients- the vision, operational skills, and the technical skills- for a successful business. You will fail if you are missing any one of the three. If I wanted to run a bakery business, I would need a vision of what the bakery will look like in the long haul, have the operational skills of managing payments and billing, and the technical skills of actually baking a cake.

Many aspiring business owners only have one skill' the ability to bake a cake. That alone is not sufficient. Not only do you need to be good at your job technically, you also have to be a good manager and entrepreneur.

Read E-Myth by Michael Gerber. I read that book before I decided to start my business and it has helped me immensely.

You have been very active in the Community answering questions and providing suggestions. What keeps you coming back?

I want to broaden my understanding of what small businesses face. As a computer programmer, I am a comfortable with the technical aspects. However, a strong grasp of general business issues is helpful for running my own business.

Since my target market is small businesses, Business.gov also helps me keep in touch with my customers. This way, I can better market and tailor my business strategy to suit their needs.

Lastly, I look forward to share my technical expertise with other small business owners. Here, I can put my many years of IT experience into good use.

Quick Facts

Username: teamextension
Date registered: 1/10/2010
Total messages posted: 87
Total kudos received: 96
As of June 10, 2010


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