Anxiety, skepticism, enthusiasm; there’s a mix of emotions when you’re thinking about hiring your first employee.
Will this person represent your business well? What will you have them work on? What if they destroy your reputation? What if you have a slow month—will you be able to pay them?
Making your first hire is an equally exciting and nerve-wracking time. Here’s what you need to know to determine whether you’re ready to hire and how to find an employee who fulfills your needs.
Questions to Ask Yourself Before Hiring Your First Employee
Figuring out whether or not now is the right time to hire your first employee can be tough, but these questions can give you clarity.
Do you know exactly what you’re hiring for?
While hiring means you’ll have some help, you shouldn’t just be hiring for that alone—you should be looking to fill specific skill gaps within your business.
“Many small businesses—startups in particular—deal with ‘the warm body syndrome.’ Instead of hiring people who fit and are qualified for certain positions, people are brought in simply because they’re convenient and cost-effective,” says business consultant, Anna Johansson, in an article for Inc.
New hires should be brought in to satisfy a specific need. Are there tasks you hate doing or struggle to accomplish?
Write those things down and look for common themes. Do you loathe posting on social media and writing your weekly newsletters? A marketing coordinator could help. Do you hate filing, paperwork, and responding to customer inquiries? Maybe you need an office assistant.
Once you’ve identified exactly what you need, translate those specific requirements into the job description. Vague descriptions frustrate applicants and make it that much more difficult to find qualified talent.
When writing the job description, you should outline:
- Your business (a brief overview of what you do and who you serve)
- Core responsibilities of the role
- Specific requirements a candidate must meet to be considered
- Qualifications that are preferred, but not required
Remember, the more detailed you can be, the better your chances of finding the best fit for your skill gap.
Are you prepared to delegate?
You’ve invested so much of yourself into your business, and that makes it challenging to relinquish some control and accept help.
Hiring an employee won’t serve you well if you aren’t ready to empower them and give that person some work. In fact, it will only cause you even more stress.
“Unfortunately, many business owners become control freaks,” says Colleen DeBaise, The Wall Street Journal’s former small business editor, in a WSJ article, “When the business finally grows enough to hire staff, these control-freak business owners aren’t willing to let workers do their jobs.”
Making your first hire can be difficult logistically, but there are some mental and emotional aspects to it as well.
Consider whether or not you’re ready to delegate work you’ve been doing yourself and trust that an employee will handle it effectively—even if they approach it differently than you would.
Will hiring someone lead to positive growth for your business?
Adding an employee requires significant expense, so it’s important to consider the cost benefit. How will this hire lead to more revenue?
Sometimes that connection is obvious. Hiring a new salesperson will lead to more sales and, as a result, increased income for your business.
However, there are more subtle ways that a hire can lead to increased revenue. For example, could hire a customer support specialist to improve the relationship with your existing customers and reduce your churn rate?
Time is another factor. Are sales prospecting and other business development opportunities constantly pushed to the back burner in order to deal with the daily tasks? Hiring could alleviate some minutiae so you can channel more energy into growing your business.
Is an employee your best choice?
Could a freelancer meet your needs without needing to pay benefits? Independent contractors are a popular choice among small business owners for that reason. The help you hire, whether an employee or independent contractor, will determine how you run payroll.
Perhaps there’s a third-party service (like an agency) that you could outsource your work to. Or, maybe you’d rather search for a co-founder who works for equity or ownership in your business, as opposed to a salary or hourly rate.
The important thing to note is that there are other options beyond hiring a traditional part-time or full-time employee. Do some research into what alternatives are out there before deciding which route is best for you.