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Finding Reliable Short Term Staff - by Mary McKenna

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by Startacus Admin

Youth volunteering charity vInspired have recently launched a start-up social enterprise called Task Squad, which matches up young people who have proven their skills and reliability through volunteering, with employers who need short term, flexible staff.

The scheme, which has had financial backing from Google’s Global Impact Challenge, is being taken forward by new CEO Mary McKenna.  

Mary became the first person to receive an MBE for Digital Technology, Innovation and Learning, has a long Mary McKenna MBEcareer launching and developing start-ups in the UK and US and this is her first foray into social enterprise.  Here Mary, write for Startacus about how start-ups can find reliable short term staff that will help them cope with crucial milestones and turning points – highlighting her own experience of scaling up start-ups and of course of now running a temp work initiative along the way...

Over to Mary to tell all...

"When you’re running a start-up there comes a point when things start to go your way.  You’re growing, and you’re working all the hours you possibly can to keep things going the way they should.  Sometimes this happens very suddenly and the floodgates open.

But there are onlyso many hours you and your small team can work and, unless you can get some help, things are going to slow down, or stop. Say you’ve had a great bit of press and the orders are flooding in.  Or you’ve shelled out on a stand at a trade show, but just haven’t got two days to spare to man it.

In my own experience, life in a start-up is like a roller coaster ride.  Weeks spent pushing a peanut up a mountain followed by a rush of those promising little humps – the opportunities that you know you should take, but sometimes just can’t fit in. There are, of course, often friends and family at hand to help through those times.  Or you can just put some pressure on your existing team to do a few more extra hours. They will all willingly give you an hour or two after they’ve finished their own work or they might be able to help at the weekend, but you have little control on whether they do what they promise and it always feels a bit awkward telling them what to do when they are doing it essentially for free - or for a few beers.

Mary McKenna MBEThis is where temporary staffing can come to the rescue.  Start-ups often think of temp staff as an expensive solution, and really just there for admin support.  And sometimes admin support is what you need to free you up to focus on the real work.  But you might be surprised at how much more an enthusiastic temp can do for your business.  With high youth unemployment rates, there are many young and motivated workers who are keen to build their experience in diverse fields, who could give you just the short-term boost you need.

It was this idea that attracted me to my latest venture.  Task Squad is a micro-work platform set up by youth volunteering charity vInspired.  Task Squad matches young people with proven skills and reliability earned through volunteering to businesses that need a short term resource shot in the arm.  It’s currently pre-launch but already we’ve seen a number of growing start-ups (and larger SMEs) using the service for tasks as diverse as customer fulfilment (for a new children’s book provider – lostmy.name), sales support (for a legal firm), database creation (for a marketing company) and desk based market research (for consumer rights organisation Which?).

I wish something like Task Squad had existed when I founded my last company, Learning Pool.  With access to Task Squadflexible and affordable additional pairs of hands we would have been able to scale our business much quicker.  As a start-up you’re caught out in so many ways – you don’t want to add additional full time people to your payroll, you can’t usually afford expert freelancers and you don’t have time to deal with bureaucracy. 

So next time you’re coming up to one of those promising little humps, think about how a temp might be help you to get over it. Could they help with…

  • covering reception or dealing with customer queries;
  • preparation and delivery of events;
  • mass marketing campaigns;
  • conducting telephone and/or face to face research;
  • data gathering and recording;
  • dealing with online customer enquiries?

We’re still tinkering with our brand new platform so we’d love to hear your ideas and feedback – or if you know any 18-25 year olds seeking work, please send them our way.  We pay above minimum wage for all tasks and we think this way of working fits well with the enthusiastic, flexible young people we see coming into the workforce."

Cheers Mary and we wish the team all the best with the new Task Squad venture.

If you are looking for more recruiting and startup inspired posts, you might also want to read:

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Published on: 16th March 2014

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