All4Women Entrepreneurs is a monthly feature where we put the spotlight on amazing female entrepreneurs starting businesses in South Africa. This month we spoke to Mogau Seshoene (AKA The Lazy Makoti) to get her top tips on what to look for in a new employee.
(In case you missed it, read the first instalment of the All4Women Entrepreneurs series. From auditor to business owner – find out how The Lazy Makoti started her entrepreneurial journey and found her gap in the market.)
30-year-old Mogau started her foodie business only four years ago and has since hired three other women and employees several others on an ad-hoc basis.
The first-time entrepreneur is finally living her dream after years of studying and working as an auditor – a job she was good at, but didn’t really have a passion for. Mogau’s experience being employed as an auditor has greatly influenced how she employs others in her own business.
She also knows first-hand how difficult it can be for entrepreneurs to hire employees for a small business, because the stakes are so high and small business owners don’t usually have hiring experience.
Here is Mogau’s best advice on finding the right employees for your start-up.
1. Nothing is more important than trust
Mogau is the first person in her family to start and run her own business and she used her own savings to partially fund The Lazy Makoti. She realised the importance of hiring the right people very early on her entrepreneurial journey.
“My business is like my baby. As it grows I have realised that I can’t do everything myself. To grow my business, seek and find other opportunities I need to surround myself with people I can trust. Hiring people to work with you is a lot like hiring a nanny for your child. You need to be able to trust that they share your vision and have your business’s best interests at heart,” she explains.
Although it isn’t easy to know if you can trust a prospective employee from just an interview, finding someone with the relevant knowledge, experience and excellent references is a good place to start. Then you have to trust your intuition (and remember to protect yourself and your business with a probation period).
2. Communication is vital
Without clear communication, it is impossible to know what is going on with the business or your employees. Mogau says clear communication is vital, especially when things go wrong, so she looks for people who don’t hesitate to speak up in good or bad situations.
“My employees must be able to talk to me and understand me too. If there is a misunderstanding or things have gone wrong, it is important to communicate so that we can solve the problem and move forward. For example, it’s better if someone tells me they have broken an appliance rather than finding out it has been broken when I need it,” she says.
3. Don’t hire employees, hire people with vision
Working from one pay cheque to another makes for a miserable work life. Mogau loves working with people who are as passionate about The Lazy Makoti as she is.
“I love it when people I work with tell me their ideas and share ways we can move the business forward. It shows that they don’t only care about getting paid, but care about the business and want it to grow too,” says Mogau.
She emphasises the importance of looking further than the experience a potential employee has. “Employees with a vision beyond the current business and the assertiveness to make suggestions and set their own goals, whether at work or even outside of work, will help grow and improve your business. Although experience is important, willingness to learn and a plan of action that will help achieve your vision are really what make good employees great partners in the growth of a young business,” she adds.