Now that you know what kind of help you might need in your business, how can you make sure you find the right people from day one?

Get clear on what you need

It will be difficult to find great help if you don’t have any clarity on what you want to achieve by working with that person, says Robert Gerrish, business coach and founder of website Flying Solo.

For example, if you’re trying to hire a great marketing person, first nut out a clear aim. Do you want the phone to ring, do you need some exposure, or do you want to increase sign-ups for your product or service, for instance?

Mr Gerrish says ideally you’ll be able to condense your aim down to a single sentence, such as ‘I want to generate new business leads’. 

“Start to look around for people who are positioning themselves as doing that precise work,” he says.

On the subject of marketing, Mr Gerrish says you should be taking note of how any marketer is presenting themselves to the world.

If you’re searching for someone to help with IT support, but don’t really know what you need, Mr Gerrish suggests enlisting the help of a more tech-savvy friend or colleague who can help you prepare a one-page brief on what you need done.

Is this person a good fit for my business?

Word-of-mouth remains one of the most surefire ways to find quality people to help your business, says Gerrish.

It also pays to ask your potential freelancer or professional for contact details of past clients that you can speak to, or examples of work they’ve completed which is similar to your needs.

Gerrish suggests asking past clients how responsive the person you want to hire is, whether their rates are reasonable, and whether they ever received any surprising invoices.

You should also be asking your potential help about their measures for success, such as ‘how will I know when you’re doing a good job for me?’ says Gerrish.

If you’re hiring a professional such as an accountant, check they belong to an industry body such as CPA Australia or the Institute of Chartered Accountants.

CPA Australia’s general manager of public practice, Peter Docherty, says if you’re looking to get an accountant on board, you should be asking what their areas of specialisation are, and which industries they service.

“What type of client relationship do they prefer? How accessible will they be? Will you be talking to an accountant directly or to a staff member?”

Seven questions to ask any advisor
  1. Can I speak to past clients?
  2. Can you provide examples of similar work?
  3. Are you a member of a professional body?
  4. How accessible are you, and who’s the point of contact?
  5. What are your turnaround times?
  6. What are your rates? Are you willing to charge in stages?
  7. How will you help me grow my business?