As your business grows, you’ll soon enough reach a point where there’s just too much work for you alone. To continue growing, you’ll need to delegate some tasks. Just like leaving your new-born child with a sitter for the first time, you’ll want to ensure that whoever you hire shows the business the care that it deserves. It’s time for your first hire.
You should never cut corners when it comes to recruitment, and that’s even more the case with your first hire, who’ll be taking on a huge amount of responsibility. A role as a start-up’s first hire isn’t like any other job: it’ll take drive, passion, commitment and a little sacrifice.
A thorough application process should filter serious applicants from the time wasters. Of course skills and experience are important, but personality and attitude are just as crucial. Here we’ll look at the traits that make a successful first hire.
Perhaps the most important trait in your first hire is whether or not you trust them. Can you afford to give them access to your customers, suppliers and financial information? The whole point of that first recruit is to relieve you of some responsibility without having to constantly monitor their work. Ask the candidate about times they have been trusted with responsibility in the past – have they been in control of large sums of money, important client accounts or other major responsibilities? If you’re still unsure, give their references a call and find out.
As the business owner you want to know that your first hire has the ability to communicate effectively your company’s message and goals to customers and staff alike. If possible, get someone else to sit in on the interview with you to monitor non-verbal signs such as tone and body language. This will give you an indication of the impression they’ll communicate to others in and outside of the company.
Your entrepreneurial journey will throw many challenges your way, not least the long days and important meetings at short notice. What happens when your customer can only come and see you at 7:30am, or wants to meet on Saturday morning? Is the candidate willing to work around that or do they intend to clock out at 5pm sharp?
Hardworking and multi-tasking
Finding someone who has all the skills you want in your first hire will be incredibly difficult. The most important thing is that they’re willing to get their hands dirty with all sorts of tasks and can work towards solutions to problems outside of their comfort zone. In the early days of the business, both you and your first hire will need to wear a multitude of hats, so make sure they’re adaptable and have a passion for expanding their skill set.
You love your business, and that gives you the enthusiasm to show others why they should get on board. Does your first hire have that same infectious positivity? It’s amazing how fast bad moods can spread through a group of people, so steer clear of anyone who has a negative outlook or a tendency to put a dampener on proceedings.
As 50% of your company, any lateness or unexplained absence on the part of your employee will hit you hard. Be sure to ask for previous work attendance records. If you’re unsure, check with their references and make sure they’re relevant. If you’re still in doubt, steer clear. A bad hire at this stage could be incredibly costly, so hold out until you’re completely sure.
There’s no substitute for a thorough application process. Always check with references and hold multiple-stage interviews where necessary. Remember, skills and experience are important, but without the right mind set and personality, they won’t count for much.
Find more resources on your business’s crucial early days at our starting up portal.