6 Ways to Plug the Skills Gap


As a small business owner, you have to be a jack of all trades but master of none. You have to deal with most of the issues that larger businesses face but without the range of staff to delegate to. True your volumes may be lower but the risks you face are undoubtedly a lot higher.

The temptation may be to employ more staff to help out. However are you getting the best out of your existing staff and are they supporting you in every way you’d like? Or are they just processing transactions?

are you getting the best out of your existing staff?

As a business owner you need to concentrate on your core: producing, developing and selling the product or service – these are the skills no one else has. Your staff need to be supporting you in this. For all non core activities, you can generally find people who can do it better on a “pay as you use” basis.

Here are 6 examples of clients using additional resource for non core activities or to fill the gaps between the owner and his staff on core activities.

University Graduate / Apprentice

There are schemes organised by the Universities which allow a company to take on a graduate as though they were an interim manager. The University pays for recruitment and employs the graduate. This could be a very effective and cheap way for a business owner to get project type work done which his staff lack to skills to carry out. I’ve taken on a graduate to perform analytical work for a client at a fraction of my cost.

Part Time Director

For many businesses who grow and evolve, their staff skills don’t expand and gaps form between the business owner and staff. The consequence is more work falling back onto the owners shoulders as staff haven’t the skills to do it properly. A well rounded hands-on director can take a lot of the pressure off the business owner, plug the skills gaps and act as the needed glue with his staff.

Marketing : Design & Copy

Some businesses try to cut costs on marketing design & copy by using administrative staff. Website content often can look very amateurish despite the best efforts of the staff. One client has a good full marketing agency on a retainer, with campaigns managed through the online Basecamp project management system. The client defines the campaigns, initiates the draft content then uses the agency to finish the copyright & create email broadcasts & case studies.

Accountants: Compliance & Tax

Accountants are particularly good at tax advice & compliance work. Use their knowledge rather than trying to keep up to date with legislation and ensuring all statutory requirements are complied with. It’s generally more cost effective to have someone directly under your control to do the books so you can manipulate the information for managing the business and get guidance from the accountants when you need to report to the authorities.

Legal: Employment Law

Many legal firms with an employment law arm allow you to pay them a relatively small monthly fee on  retainer basis. This means your staff have comfort that they can handle all contractual staff issues without needing to worry about whether they are following the law. Where contracts need to be rewritten or employment disputes occur, the legal firm can provide additional support.

Legal: Commercial Contracts

Getting a well written commercial contract in place for your first customer seems perhaps nice to have when starting up. But a year on when problems occur, and the contract has been replicated several times over with new customers, you’ll wish you’d invested in a decent template in the first place. Find lawyers with a commercial services arm and give them a tight budget to work to.

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