There are many important decisions SME owners have to take in the early stages of their business, and one of the most important is making that first hire. Depending on the individual company, this could be done immediately, within a few months, or even a year after starting up. There is no singular approach, but it must be the right decision at the right time. The key question to ask yourself is whether you can justify making a new hire, in terms of cost and workload. I experienced this when I started my first recruitment business - it was four months before I had enough money in the bank to be able to take someone on.
The best businesses are the ones which really stay in tune with their customers' needs. These days there are so many tools to analyse results, and so many ways to interact with the people who buy your products or services, that there really is no excuse for failing to grasp what they are thinking. The needs and behaviour patterns of your customers can constantly change - and your business should adapt accordingly.
Perhaps like many others I'm not yet convinced the on role Google Glass will play in the interview and hiring process, however the fact that someone out there is trying, irrespective of its long term success or otherwise, should be applauded - I am certainly watching with interest and will be keen to see the result.
Nowadays I invest primarily in people who want to do what I did - become their own boss. I'm a firm believer that if you are prepared to put the effort in, there is no reason why you can't successfully run your own business... Technology has since come on leaps and bounds, which means you can access data and generate leads like never before. And the advent of social media means that building a brand and marketing yourself has become that little bit easier.
For many in the technology sector, one of the most discussed topics in recent months has been digital fraud and online security. This is an area in which I have a great deal of interest, as it continues to play a significant role in the demand for specialist skills in the Financial Services & Banking Sectors.
There is no denying that amongst the recruitment agencies, from your large international firms to your small high street based firms, there are some CV hungry, cut and shut agencies that are uninterested in the candidates they have on their books. However, nowadays these are in the minority and don't tend to last very long.
We've learnt recently that although growth in job vacancies hit the fastest rate in 15 years in November this year (the strongest demand being for engineers) and the UK unemployment rate is at its lowest since 2009, the availability of candidates to fill permanent and temporary posts fell in November; a continuation of the recent trend.
Law has traditionally been seen as a career path only accessible via the conventional University route, but that is changing. In 2013 one of the most exciting and dynamic changes for our business wasn't just a merger or new senior management but a new approach to recruitment with the appointment of the first Level 4 Legal Apprentice in the UK.
Having been an apprentice, I am now very aware that there are a considerable amount of people out there with a negative view of Apprenticeships - whether that is through a bad experience or through just hearing the ever-changing Chinese whispers that get thrown around regarding Apprenticeships. Trust me, the Apprenticeship experience is simply only a positive one.
The importance of your digital profile can't be overlooked. It can propel you into the stratosphere of cyberfame within minutes, as the two chaps above know well. More realistically, a complete, professional, grammatically-correct digital profile can give you a huge advantage when it comes to recruitment.
If I read the words 'team player' one more time, I'm going to scream. We're hiring at work. And everyone who applies is dedicated and conscientious, and strategic, and tactical, and organised... and dull. Nigh on every CV sounds exactly the same (no-one tell us they're a lazy misanthrope who can't multitask, strangely - though I'd be tempted to interview them).