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A Quick Guide to Hiring Your First Employee (Part I)

Posted by Dave Clarke on October 22, 2013 at 9:31 AM

You've started your business. You've burned the midnight oil from your home office (or garage!), gone months without a steady paycheck, and have come to know all joy that is the small business lifestyle: (Accounting! Entity formation! Legal! Oh My!).

But now you've reached a tipping point: your business is growing and you're finding yourself overwhelmed. You need help.

Figuring out how to engage help for your small business is one of the trickiest tasks to tackle. The tips below (Part I of II) can help you navigate...

What are you hiring for?

Oftentimes, we see a small business owner hire someone simply because "things are crazy." However, hiring your first employee simply for the sake of getting general help usually isn't the best approach. Skill sets will be different. Areas of expertise and levels of experience will vary. So it is critical that you ask yourself, "What need am I hiring for and what will this hire free me up to accomplish?" Are you in need of someone to help with back-office tasks so that you can focus on doing the actual work? Are you in need of someone to take on the bulk of the actual work so that you can spend more time developing new business? Do you need someone to grow the business via sales and marketing so you can do more of the actual work? The point is, have a clear sense of what the need is and what satisfying it will allow you to do. Then hire specifically for that.

Define "hire."

Hiring means a lot of different things. The key is having confidence (backed up by data like, oh, say... sound financial reports!) that your business can absorb the impact of that first hire. In fact, once you have your need specified and understand what the financial implications are, you'll likely have a better idea of how you'll define this hire. So what does that mean? Well, "hire" doesn't always mean "employee." (Even the word "employee" can mean different things.) You may learn that you only require a few hours of, say, back-office work or research help. For that, an hourly contractor may be perfectly sufficient. Or you may learn that a part-time employee satisfies the need. That may be a particular attractive route if you aren't entirely ready to take on full-time requirements like employee benefits or company retirement plans. But if you are, and you're confident that hiring will become a regular thing, a full-time employee (and everything that goes with it) might be the way to go.

Define the working relationship you seek.

Do you work from home? If so, that's a variable in the hiring process. Are there travel requirements for the help you seek? Again, variable. Are you comfortable with your hire working remotely or do you have specific in-office requirements? For that matter, does geography even matter? What we're getting at here is that you need to define the working relationship you seek. You need to set and align expectations with the hire so that this is a successful exercise. Try to envision the hire's day-to-day. How would you expect them to work? From where? When? How close would they work with you? On top of that, set goals that you'd like this hire to accomplish and work backwards to figure out how they'd best achieve them for you.

So there are three of the six tips. We'll post the rest later this week! And if you have tips of your own on how you navigated that first hire, tweet them at us!

Topics: Know and Grow Your Business