First hire considerations for the entrepreneur

There comes a point when you can no longer go it alone. Forget flying solo. The time has come for your first hire, but there are so many considerations before you dive in. It’s early days for your business and you’re wondering if a new person is the growth you need.

If it’s time for your one man/woman band to become a duo, then keep the following considerations in mind. Investing the time now will ultimately help you in the long run!

Do I need more efficiency or more workers?

The first, and most important, part of your first hire considerations: does your business actually need new employees? The mistake many people make is equating too much work with a need for employees. Before you even start writing up that job advertisement or anything else, ask yourself:

Are you turning away work?

Depending on your business, the amount of incoming work may increase and decrease throughout the year. Feeling overwhelmed during the busier periods, while stressful, may not be a sign that you’re ready for an employee.

However, if you’ve been consistently turning down work for a considerable length of time, then this may be a sign. Invest time to consider your vision for your business, including the vision for the size of company you’d like to pioneer. Keeping a company small is an intentional decision many people make.

Are your customers complaining that you’re too distant?

Have your customers ever complained that you never answer their emails on time? Has anyone ever commented that your project turnaround is far too long? Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter how amazing your product or service may be, if your customers are having an overall poor experience. Should a first hire be necessary, then these kinds of complaints will determine the ideal employee. Perhaps your first hire needs to be someone who’ll keep the ship sailing on your business while you dive deep into the nitty gritty of your field.

What exactly needs to be done?

So, you’ve looked at your workload and you’ve decided there is definitely a need for an employee. What now? It’s time to get specific about what your business actually needs. Take some time to outline all of the details in a single document. Ask yourself:

What skills are essential?

Figuring out what’s essential and what’s preferable is, perhaps, the hardest part of defining your ideal employee. You’ll have to compromise between your unicorn-esque concept of the perfect employee and the realities of recruiting. There are few, if any, people in the world who’ll have all the skills and experience you could possibly need. There will be many people who’ll have some of the skills and experience you need.

Make sure to identify and prioritise the specialist skills. This might be anything from a working knowledge of accounting software to extensive experience working with an onsite construction team.

What responsibilities will they have? How much administration and ad hoc duties will they be required to do?

For some people, too much admin can be a deal breaker. For others, it’s a win. Make sure to be clear and upfront with the kinds of responsibilities your potential first employee will have. Identifying and listing responsibilities will also help you to figure out exactly how much work there is and therefore whether your first employee will join you part time or full time.

What values will align with your vision?

Compared to the big businesses that’ve been around for a while, your business is still in its early days. Keep your vision clear and communicate it well, within your job description and in person. Consider the values your ideal employee will have, that will align with the direction of your business.

Do I know all my legal responsibilities?

Fortunately and unfortunately there are plenty of legalities to bringing someone on board. While the laws are in place to protect people, they can also present issues for those who’ve yet to do their research. To begin, have you asked yourself:

Are you aware of what questions you can and can’t ask in an interview?

A simple question like “how old are you?” is against the law, and could be contributing to discriminatory practices. Thankfully, it’s quite easy to find out what kinds of interview questions are unlawful and avoid them.

What are my financial obligations? Am I across all the details on tax, superannuation and more?

Lengthy discussions with an accountant, well versed in the intricacies of a small business, will help with these specifics. Furthermore, there are extensive government resources for businesses of every size.

Would a trial period be a good idea?

You’ve identified a real need in your business for an extra pair of hands. You’ve detailed a killer description and brushed up on the legalities of bringing someone onboard – but, you’re still feeling unsure. No stress! For entrepreneurs hiring their first employee, a trial period may be a good idea. Allow sufficient time for a person to settle in and demonstrate their suitability, while also not taking up too much time, such that breaking ties will be too difficult. Sometimes, the only way to know how good of a fit someone is to bring them on and see how you work together and the impact you both have on the business.

Where to now?

At the end of the day, the vision for your business determines the who, what and when of your first hire. Taking the leap and bringing someone new on board is ultimately something to celebrate. Your business is growing, thriving and expanding.

About the Author:

Bernadette Mung is a Community Manager at fast-growing digital marketing agency You & Co. She loves all things writing, social media and inbound marketing. You’ll probably find her tweeting puns about tea and coffee, while drinking a cup of Earl Grey. Find Bernadette on Twitter!

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