The Best Investment Advice I Can Give

At a recent client luncheon, a seemingly simple question was posed to me, “What’s the best business investment you’ve made to positively impact your company?” My initial thoughts involved things like new software programs, high-end laptops, attractive office space, and similar tangible purchases.

However, as I began to think more deeply about it, I realized that the best and most impactful investment decision I’ve made for my company boiled down to something very simple — hiring experienced, proven people and letting them do the job they were hired for.

This decision was due in part to a natural evolution of our company. Like many small business owners, I reached a pivotal point not long ago that required action: a stage of rapid growth where I realized I needed to hire experienced, senior-level talent to help me and the rest of my team capitalize on the many opportunities in front of us. Creating this senior management team, and bringing additional leadership members on board was a major move that had significant financial and business process impact, but it was something that I knew we needed in order to continue our growth and successfully scale the business to meet new challenges.

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This decision also impacted me personally. After many years of being involved in almost every area of the business on a daily basis, it was a significant change for me to begin to work with an expanded senior management team and have them run with business initiatives and decisions I would have normally taken on myself. Entrusting major decisions to new senior leadership that can affect the future of your business and the livelihood of your employees is not an easy thing to do, particularly after 20 years of being the key decision-maker in the company. However, if you hire the right people you need to commit to letting them do their job. Allow them to utilize their knowledge and expertise for the benefit of your company. This is what I’ve tried to do.

The results of this investment? I’m pleased to say we have seen substantial growth, and added new lines of business. We’re functioning more efficiently, and it’s freed me up to focus on areas of the business I have not previously had time for in the past. So, while I don’t have any hot stock tips for you, I do have some sound “investment” advice: hire experienced people and watch your investment be returned many times over.

Debby Millhouse is the Owner and President of CEO Inc. Founded in Charlotte, NC in 1994, CEO Inc. is a full service recruiting firm providing direct hire placement, temp staffing and human capital services for clients nationwide. Millhouse has been honored as one of the Top 50 Most Influential Women by The Mecklenburg Times, inducted into the Business Leader Hall of Fame as one of the top entrepreneurs in the Charlotte area, and given the Women in Business Achievement Award winner by the Charlotte Business Journal. CEO Inc. has also been honored with the Charlotte Ethics in Business Award, Charlotte Best Places to Work Award, and recognized as one of the top 50 diversity-owned businesses in the state of North Carolina. She is a Certified Staffing Professional (CSP) as designated by the American Staffing Association, Certified Personnel Consultant (CPC) and Certified Temporary Staffing Specialist (CTS) as designated by the National Association of Personnel Services. She can be reached at 704-372-4701 or visit for more information.