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10 Types of Employees (or Partners) to Avoid

Choose wisely among the people and positions that should be hired to preserve the efficiency of a project or startup.


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The success of a business or a project is very often dependent on whether it can sustain itself financially or not.  Sometimes that is a matter of having sufficient revenue to cover the costs, but it is also often a matter of directly controlling the costs and keeping them low.  A great way to control costs is to hire slowly or forego hiring for a position completely. 

Another benefit of not adding personnel is that smaller teams tend to have a higher per-person productivity and efficiency. In this article I will outline ten ways to control costs and raise efficiency within a project by going over ten types of people or types of positions that should not be hired in order to preserve the efficiency of a small team. 

1) Someone Who Will Turn You into a Lawyer

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Most people with good work ethics tend to be thrilled to get their hands dirty and start being productive when embarking on a new project.  When people aren’t as excited about the project, but more about what is in it for them, they tend to focus on peripheral issues like, for example, details of legal implications of their involvement.  There are some people who will wonder what happens to the intellectual property they will create in case the company ceases to exist, in case they want to leave, and ten other different potential events which will never happen.  Not only will you spend your time and possibly incurring legal fees while answering these questions, but quite importantly, you may want to ask yourself why this person isn’t asking as many questions about the actual work and how they can quickly start getting their hands dirty.

2) General Business People

There is a bevy of skills a “business” person may have.  They might excel at product vision, be good at business development and getting the right connections for your business, be talented at inside sales, and yet others may be good at marketing.  Even within marketing there are a tremendous number of sub-specializations.  A marketer can be great at creating promotional material, guerilla marketing, SEO or social media marketing.  Even within social media marketing there are still many different options like being a Twitter expert or a Digg expert, or a StumbleUpon expert.

While many people can cross-task and excel at a number of business specializations, they tend to be better at some specializations than others so you must be specific in knowing what you need them to do, and make sure they excel at that.  If you don’t first figure out what skills you may absolutely need, you may find yourself needing a few different business people to fill your business-side needs.  Instead, try to have a great sense of exactly the skills you will need, and look for those skills.  Or just look for brilliant team-oriented people who are thirsty to learn all the skills necessary for the team to get ahead.

Plus, if someone actually says they are a business person without being able to specify their strengths specifically, that is likely a great red flag.  Another red flag is when someone describes themselves as “idea person.” Just ideas are worthless.  Only people who can do the leg work to help an idea turn into reality are priceless.

3) Social Media Experts

Just as you should not randomly hire generalist business people without specifically knowing what their specific strengths should be ahead of time, you should probably also not bring on board people with overly specific skills.  An example of that are people who claim to be social media experts.  Social media is great and good social media marketers are quite good at getting tens of thousands Twitter followers or large spikes of traffic from StumbleUpon, but those audiences are often just browsing and are not well targeted, so the large number of visitors are likely to turn into disappointingly  small numbers of actual customers. 

The same holds true for business development people.  When the time will come to promote your site, they will not have as much savvy doing that as you may wish or had thought they did, because the expertise they have is in deal-making.

4) UX Designers

There is usually never enough work for a full-time usability designer and they tend to command a pretty high hourly rate when hired on a contract basis.  They will also take up a lot of the manager’s time as they get up to speed in learning about the particular usability needs of a project.  If you have a product manager, usability design should just be a part of his or her skill set.

If you are struggling with usability, just try to be clearer about every page’s message. If you want a user to do something on a page, make it big and apparent.  Also, use a number of free a/b testing tools out there.  That will take care of 70% of the entire job of a UX designer.  Additionally, it is often helpful to look at your competitor’s sites because chances are they might have hired a UX designer, so that will get you a free glimpse of what your competitors paid a lot of money for.  In some cases, a business or project needs to have outstanding usability, but in very many cases the need for better usability is a defense mechanisms that tries to cover up for a product’s other shortcomings.  So make sure you aren’t over-exaggerating your UX needs to cover up for another shortcoming of the product.



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