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Take your time hiring— Dave’s advice for small biz owners

Dear Dave: I started my own small business a couple of years ago, and thanks to a lot of hard work and your advice, we’re seeing some growth. If you could go back and restart your business, what things would you do differently the second time around?


Dear William: If there was one thing I could change, it would be taking more time during the hiring process. I definitely didn’t spend enough time and energy during interviews way back when. Consequently, there were times when we let crazy people in the door. Once that happened, we had to spend a lot of time and effort dealing with their craziness before we finally moved them out of the building. Not fun!

Another thing has to do with retained earnings. We didn’t begin taking a percentage of our net profits and setting it aside for retained earnings until we got too tight on cash. Starting over, I’d do that from day one. I’d run a profit and loss statement for the month, close the books for the month, and take a percentage of the net profit after paying myself a living wage and automatically put it aside as savings for the business.

People problems and money problems are small-business killers. We fought so hard and were so passionate about everything. Sometimes I wonder how many mistakes I made as a result of over-the-top intensity. Don’t misunderstand; you’ve got to be intense and passionate to make things work. But there were probably a few times when I could have handled things with a little more understanding and class.

Maybe that would be a distant third. The first two things probably affected that somewhat, too. I’m a little more relaxed now, but I know one thing for sure. Not having to deal with crazy people, and having a little bit of money saved, changes your whole outlook on things!


Dear Dave: I’m a supervisor at a distribution centre. The other supervisors and I are meeting soon to try and change the culture of our place. It’s not a terrible situation, but some concerns about communication, development and confidence in the company have come up. How would you start the process?


Dear James: Trust begins to break down when your team members think you don’t care about them. But when someone trusts you and knows that you value them, they’ll fight for you and with you. The only way to make your team feel this way is by thinking of leadership as servanthood.

Now, serving someone doesn’t mean you bring them coffee, and it sure doesn’t mean you take a bunch of crap from them. When I talk about serving, I mean looking at your team as real people. As a supervisor, what are you going to do if a guy’s wife is in the hospital after miscarriage? How are you going to handle that? You’ve got to care about your people as people, not units of production. If leadership will start doing this, and start firing people if they’re screw-ups and stop taking a bunch of garbage off the malcontents, then the good people will be glad they’re there. They’ll see that you care about them and demand excellence.

In other words, quit being bosses and start being leaders. That entails servanthood, and that also means using the Golden Rule. Before you do something with your team, take a minute and think how you’d feel if you were in their shoes. Put every decision through the Golden Rule paradigm. That in itself will cause you to serve.

All I’m talking about is loving on your people well. You can change your entire workplace culture just by doing that one thing. Too often Corporate America has forgotten that, but those of us who run successful small businesses know how it’s done. And we make sure it happens every day!


Dave Ramsey is America’s trusted voice on money and business. He’s authored four New York Times best-selling books: ‘Financial Peace’, ‘More Than Enough’, ‘The Total Money Makeover’ and ‘EntreLeadership’. The Dave Ramsey Show is heard by more than five million listeners each week on more than 500 radio stations. Follow Dave on Twitter at @DaveRamsey and on the web at daveramsey.com.

Hiring advice: Take your time while interviewing potential candidates

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Published July 23, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated July 22, 2013 at 8:15 pm)

Take your time hiring— Dave’s advice for small biz owners

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