How to hire your first employee

4 minute read

Getting a small business off the ground is a huge task. But you did it, and now that your business is growing, you might be thinking about hiring some help. Here are some ideas to think about:

Hire at the right time

Hiring your first employee is a big step, but looking back, many small business owners say that they should have hired earlier. Do you find that you’re having to turn down work? Have you identified new opportunities that your business could pursue, if you had more time? If your answer to either of these questions is “yes,” take a hard look at your cash flow. If your revenue is consistent, or better yet growing, this is the time to bring another person into your business.

What will your new hire do?

Now that you’ve decided to hire, and you have a clear vision for your business, spend some time thinking about what tasks your new employee will perform. If you’ve decided to pursue new opportunities, or expand your business by taking it in a new direction, you might be looking for someone with a particular skill set or level of expertise. If you run an e-commerce business and orders have suddenly exploded, the ability to work hard and multitask to get things done quickly and accurately might be at the top of your wish list. If you find yourself putting off certain tasks longer than you should, consider finding someone who can do the work that you hate.

Depending on your needs, your first hire could also be a freelancer or a contractor. If you struggle with bookkeeping, for example, consider working with an accountant on a freelance basis. Whatever route you take, always try to find people who are better than you, and who can communicate effectively. If you do this, your business has the best chance to grow and succeed.

Finding the right person

If your business is small, finding the time and budget to recruit, hire and train new staff members may be difficult. A time-tested alternative approach is hiring via personal referrals. Reach out to your network and see who they might recommend. Once you have staff on board, always ask them for referrals when you’re considering adding someone new! This approach may or may not be appropriate for your business, depending on the nature and size of it. Posting your vacancies on online job boards is another route that will bring you the biggest pool of applicants – but you’ll have to sift through more people who aren’t a good fit for your business, which can take considerable time. You could also opt to hire via a local recruitment agency to ensure that you only spend your time interviewing suitable candidates.

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Key steps in the hiring process

Writing a job description is your first task in the hiring process. Think about the work that needs to be done, and describe it clearly. Don’t be afraid to use a conversational style: you’ll want to show that your business will be a good place to work, and this is your first opportunity to tell candidates who you’re looking for, where they’ll be working and how to apply.

Once you’ve got the description nailed down, it’s time to craft an application form. Google Forms is the way to go here: you can ask specific questions, and provide space for candidates to answer. Next you’ll need to post your position online. Don’t forget about social media: Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn are all good options.

A person opens a document editing app on a mobile phone.

When you’ve received some applications, sort them into three categories: Interview, Maybe, and No. Do some initial phone screens with your best candidates, check their references, and then set up in-person interviews with your top picks. After your interviews, make your decision and extend the offer to your dream employee! There’s one more important point to bear in mind – everyone who applied should get an email response, even if it’s just to let them know that they aren’t a good fit for your company at this time.

From new hire to valued employee

First impressions speak volumes, and your new hire will appreciate you being prepared for their first day. Have a checklist of the necessary paperwork that needs to be completed (including tax information), and be sure to obtain their banking information so you can pay them. Finally, make sure your new hire has all the information that they’ll need to do their job!

Investing the time to find the right person and having a clear plan for onboarding will ensure that your new hire, and your business, has the best chance for success. Making your first hire might seem like a daunting step – but hopefully these ideas will get you started on the right track.