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How to hire-1
Ash RoyApr 18, 2024 10:39:36 AM10 min read

226. 9 Tips on How to Hire the Best Employees for Small Business

9 Tips on How to Hire The Best Employees for Small Business




 0:00 - Small Business Hiring

1:00 - Hiring for your Own Business

1:32 - Lesson 1 Always Be in Hiring Mode

2:28 - Lesson 2 Don't Hire the first Applicant

2:38 - Lesson 3 Get Clear on the Skill You Need

3:40 - Lesson 4 Test for Skills and Attitude

4:54 - Lesson 5 Understand that Hiring Needs Effort

6:26 - Lesson 6 Retention takes even more effort than Hiring

7:36 - Lesson 7 Confirm that they are a Good fit

08:55 - Lesson 8 Make sure you have a clear Job Description

9:19 - Lesson 9 Screen for Detail Orientation

11:11 - Neil Patel's Hiring Strategy


Small business hiring in 2024 might feel like walking through a maze blindfolded. 

But not only is this not impossible, it's life-changing.

Over the last 10 years, I've made all the mistakes in the book when hiring new team members. 

I wrote this blog post so you don't have to make those same mistakes. 

I won't beat around the bush. These are simple actionable insights you could use to transform your team into a lean mean profit generating machine.

In this article, I'll share the key things you need to do to hire great team members, the dos and don'ts around hiring, the mistakes I've made along the way, and how to avoid them.


Let's dive in. 

My painful journey around hiring

When I started Productive Insights back in 2013 I knew nothing about hiring as a small business owner. 

I'd managed teams in my previous roles back in the corporate world but I'd never actually recruited as a business owner. 

Turns out, when you're hiring for your own business there's a lot more at stake. One bad team member can make or break your business. 

Especially in the early stages. 

I started off by hiring people based on their written applications in response to job ads. 

Big mistake! 

Some of them didn't have the skills they said they had. Some did have the skills but had a very poor attitude and consistently missed deadlines.

Some even didn't show up for work on day one!

Over the years, I learned a few tricks that have helped me find the best possible candidates for my business. 

I wrote this blog post so you don't make the same mistakes I did.

It might saves you years of heartache.

My hard earned lessons from hiring


  1. Always be in hiring mode
  2. Don't hire the first applicant
  3. Get clear on the skills needed
  4. Test them with a trial project first
  5. Understand hiring needs effort
  6. And retention is even more effort
  7. Confirm they're a good fit culturally
  8. Create a clear job ad (use easter egg*)
  9. Screen for detail-orientation (via easter egg*)


1. Always be in hiring mode

Finding the right team members isn't a one and done affair. It took me years to learn this simple lesson. 

Being on the lookout for great quality team members who are a good fit for your business is essential if you want to build a great team over the long term. 

This doesn't mean you go out on a hiring frenzy and you hire new person every day.

What it does mean is, you keep an eye out for people who are likely to be a great fit and build relationships with them for future hires.

The key is to keep building relationships and connections with great candidates. 

Follow their careers watch what they achieve and how often they get promoted within the same company. 

Neil Patel shared some good ideas with this in my last conversation with him.

2. Don't hire the first applicant

I've made this mistake more than once. You'd think I'd have learned this the first time but it took me ages to learn this lesson. 

If you follow my advice in point 1 — always be on the lookout for great candidates — you're less likely to be in a huge rush to hire someone when you need the help and you're less likely to hire the first person that walks through the door or applies for your job online. 

You need to interview effectively and check for the right personal attributes — not just hire for skills. 

More on this later. 

3. Get clear on the skills needed (but go beyond this)

Getting a person onboard with the right skills is essential but not enough. 

You need to hire people who have the right attitude. Hire people who are entrepreneurial and resourceful. 

I've lost count of the number of candidates I've hired that were a great fit for the role in terms of skills but were unwilling or unable to do anything outside their job description.

For a small business owner, this is a nightmare. 

Don't make the same mistake I did. 

Hire people who have a great can-do attitude. People who have are genuinely curious and are willing to solve problems at a root cause level rather than just put band aids on problems.

Pro tip: Write a great job description that automatically filters out the tyre kickers (I'll be sharing more about this later)

4. Test for skills and attitude on a project basis 

Once I make a commitment to someone by bringing them into my team, I do my best to offer them a great working environment. 

But a great working environment is a product of a strong culture which is built by every single team member (more on culture later). 

By hiring someone on a project basis, you get the opportunity to watch them work with you and your team in real time.

Almost anyone can perform well over an hour long interview, but actually performing well over a period of weeks or months on a project gives you a real picture of what they're like to work with. 

Hiring people on a project basis (or for a few weeks on a probationary basis) is one of the best moves I've made over the last 10 years as an employer. 

5. Understand hiring needs effort

Ever heard the phrase "Sweat more in practice, bleed less in battle"

That's very true when it comes to hiring. 

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to not put in effort to get the right team member in place for each and every role. 

This includes hiring people who are keen to learn, and aren't afraid of stepping outside their comfort zone (and their area of expertise)

For years, I glossed over the idea that hiring required effort. What this meant was I ended up putting in running my business. 

I made several poor hiring decisions.

The result? 

My business was a dumpster fire. People with the right skills who didn't want to do the work needed to get the job done. They only wanted to 'stay in their lane' and do the work they were hired to do.

Newsflash: if you work in a small business, it's all hands on deck. Working only on your specialty is reserved for large organisations.

For example, if you hire someone as a full-time video editor, they might need to occasionally do some graphic design. Or manage a project in Clickup. 

Sure, you wouldn't ask them to write code, but a good team member wouldn't balk at the idea of learning it. 

And that's the point. 

Hire people who are open minded and willing to learn. If you hire people who aren't open minded it'll come back to bite you (even if they're very skilled at their job).

Note: The above only applies to people who are full-time employees in the business. Freelancers and contractors (by definition) aren't going to do anything outside their job description which is acceptable. 

6. Understand that retention takes even more effort than hiring well

Once you've got the hiring process right and you've done the work to bring the best people into the team, the next step is to retain them.

Talent prefers to work with talent. This means you need to provide a good working environment for these team members you've recruited.

They need to feel challenged but not overwhelmed. It's a fine balance. 

You also need to ensure that they're supported in making decisions and they need to be given professional latitude. 

You need to give them the resources they need to do their job (or to learn how to do it well) but you can't be micromanaging them either. 

The minute you have to start micromanaging someone, is the minute you need to take a good long hard look at your management approach.

If your management approach is sound, and you've created a great culture at work, and you still need to micromanage, then perhaps it's time to look for a replacement. 

7. Confirm they're a good fit culturally during interviews

Organizational culture refers to the collective values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviours that make up an business.

It's a shared understanding of how the business does things and influences how work gets done. 

You could think of it as the personality of your business. 

Culture is normally discussed in larger organizations but it's as important (if not more important) in small business. 

When interviewing candidates you should check for values like integrity, honesty, and  accountability.

Ask questions like: 

  • Can you give me an example of when you went above and beyond for a customer?
  • Can you share an instance where you made a mistake? How did you address it? What did you learn?


8. Create a clear job description (use an easter egg)

Here's an example:
Video Editor Job Description

Position: Video Editor
Location: [City, Country/Remote]
Type: [Full-Time/Part-Time/Contract]

Overview: We're a fast growing startup based in Australia and are seeking a highly skilled and creative Video Editor to join our dynamic team. 

Here's a link to our website /

You have a strong passion for storytelling through video and a keen eye for detail. Final Cut Pro is essential for this role, as you will be editing a wide range of video content.


  • Edit video content using Final Cut Pro, incorporating various elements such as sound, graphics, and special effects to create compelling narratives.
  • Collaborate with the production team to understand project requirements and deliver high-quality work within tight deadlines.
  • Organize and manage video assets for easy access and efficient workflow.
  • Provide creative input on video projects, including storyboarding and conceptualizing ideas.
  • Ensure all edited content meets the company's quality standards and branding guidelines.
  • Stay up-to-date with the latest video editing techniques and trends in digital media.


  • Proficiency in Final Cut Pro is a must.
  • At least 2 years of experience in video editing, preferably in a fast-paced environment.
  • Strong portfolio showcasing a variety of editing projects.
  • Excellent storytelling skills, with a keen eye for detail and visual aesthetics.
  • Ability to work collaboratively with a team and independently with minimal supervision.
  • Strong organizational skills and the ability to manage multiple projects simultaneously.
  • Bachelor's degree in Film, Media, or a related field is preferred.

To Apply: Please submit your resume, cover letter, and a link to your portfolio showcasing your work with Final Cut Pro to [Email/Link] and use the words "superstar video editor" in the subject of the email.

We are looking forward to seeing your creativity in action!

So that's the job description. 

9. Screen for detail-orientation (via easter egg*)


Did you notice the easter egg in that second last paragraph of the job description the the previous section? 

You'll be amazed at how many people apply without using the words "superstar video editor". 

My advice: don't even consider applications without those words in the subject line. Don't waste your time.

Attention to detail is essential in almost every job as is enthusiasm for the work.

Both go hand in hand. 

If they miss the easter egg, they're telling you what you need to know before the interview. 

Enough said. 


Hiring a new team member isn't easy. It takes a lot of work. 

But not doing the work when you hire someone means you're setting yourself up for a LOT more work down the track. You'll end up with all sorts of problems and it'll take you years to sort them out.

Possibly resulting in your business having serious problems. 

Remember, if you follow these 9 principles in hiring you'll be positioned well to build and run a successful team. 


Ash Roy

Ash Roy has spent over 15 years working in the corporate world as a financial and strategic analyst and advisor to large multinational banks and telecommunications companies. He suffered through a CPA in 1997 and completed it despite not liking it at all because he believed it was a valuable skill to have. He sacrificed his personality in the process. In 2004 he finished his MBA (Masters In Business Administration) from the Australian Graduate School of Management and loved it! He scored a distinction (average) and got his personality back too!