What Franchise’s resident business agony aunt Angie Coates, founder and CEO of Monkey Music, answers your business and entrepreneurial conundrums
I’m thinking about taking on my first member of staff. Do you have any tips?
Taking on your first member of staff is a huge step. But before you enter into that commitment, do you really need them? Don’t hire a permanent member of staff if you don’t have to - there are great freelancers and small agencies around.
Assuming they’re a necessity, write a job description about what the role will entail and the expertise you’re after. Your first employee will need to be comfortable wearing a range of hats and able to manage all kinds of situations.
Painting a picture of how the role may grow in terms of hours, responsibility and expertise, so candidates can understand the potential, will maximise your chances of recruiting a long-standing colleague who truly understands how the business ticks.
Once you’ve made the decision to appoint someone, be professional. Interview far and wide, agree holidays and sign contracts.
For me, it’s important to share a positive and collaborative working relationship, so I always try to be welcoming and treat a colleague as I would expect to be treated myself.
You need to trust that your new team member will be supportive, loyal and flexible, as well as representing you and your business in the way you would expect. Above all, look for someone who will share your passion and excitement for your business.
My first employee became a great friend. I will never forget her face when she answered the phone to Cherie Blair, who was calling from 10 Downing Street to book her baby son, Leo, into our classes. It started a tradition of unexpected moments being celebrated with an early lunch and a glass of fizz.
I hope you find the right person to share those future exciting moments with and who will help you realise your dreams for your business.
I own a home-based business. What’s your best advice for staying motivated in these strange times?
Have a vision, structure your days, but above all look after yourself.
Self-discipline is key to staying motivated. It’s so easy to start work in your pyjamas or head to the fridge when faced with a difficult task. Don’t let bad habits creep in - it’s a slippery slope and you’ll drift into the slow lane. Imagine instead that you’re in an office with a team and behave accordingly.
Separating work and personal life when working at home can be tricky, but creating a rigid structure may help keep the two apart.
Plan your day - both the tasks you need to get done and your breaks. Look at the weather and schedule in exercise time, as well as lunch/ tea breaks, home schooling, etc. And when the day is done, stop. Never switching off will lead to burn out.
During the week, if you’re lucky enough to be able to move around the house to change your working environment, then mix it up. If not, invest in a roll of outlandish wallpaper to keep things fresh and stimulate your senses and well-being. I love some of these: pinterest.co.uk/muralswallpaper/home-office-ideas.
Finally, make sure you aren’t all work and no play. Long-term payback and short-term accomplishments are big motivators.
Articulate your long-term vision for the business, but also put in place shorter-term targets. Print your vision, targets and challenges, using images to illustrate your rewards, and stick them next to your computer.
Rewards don’t need to be big, but it’s important to give yourself recognition for working well and keeping focused.