When a small business reaches the point that routine work keeps the owner from focusing on growing the business and serving clients, it is time to hire the first employee.
Traditionally, the task of that first employee is to “do the work that you don’t want to do and don’t like to do.”
Step 1: what needs to be done?
While that is a good general reason to hire an employee for your growing small business, you do need to pinpoint just what tasks you would like to assign to that employee.
This allows you to determine the roles and responsibilities that your new hire must have in order to succeed at her task, which is taking responsibility for what you need done and cannot (or do not want to) do yourself anymore … but which is crucial to your success.
Step 2: who do you bring on board?
Once you know what you need done, you need to figure out who is best to get it done and how much you need to pay that “right” person.
That means deciding what skill set is necessary for your new employee, be it administration, sales, or IT, or customer service or anything else. And you’ll also have to find out what typical salaries for professionals with that skill set in your area are.
If you cannot afford to pay the going rate to a trained professional, it sometimes pays to hire a new graduate or other newcomer to the job scene. Keep in mind, however, that you will have to train such a person, so saving money on salaries needs to be balanced with the time and effort you will spend on training.
Since a skilled and trained employee will help you expand your business, it may be worth investing in paying the salary of an experienced professional.
The time saved on training can often allow you the time and peace of mind necessary to grow your business and meet her salary expectations without “stretching” after the first month or two.
Step 3: the interview
Once you have determined who you need and have begun searching for candidates to fill the necessary position, you should conduct thorough interviews that reveal not only each candidate’s aptitudes but also their attitudes.
Does a candidate have a real passion for her work or is she just looking for a new job because she is bored, or wants a change?
Does an applicant really want to commit herself to the varied and often time-sensitive responsibilities and hectic atmosphere of a new small business?
Or is she more suited to the corporate culture and defined responsibilities of a large firm?
While it is usually an easy matter to disqualify candidates who are completely unsuitable for your job offer, it can be very difficult to decide between two or more qualified candidates, and it is here that interviewing skills come in handy.
If it is your first job interview as an employer, and you hardly remember your own first job interview, consider looking to sources online like www.hr.com or www.shrm.org for interviewing tips. You could even look into the services of a human resources expert that may specialize in small business employment.
Interview questions should focus on the details of the role which the employee must fulfill, as well as prior experience.
Be aware that while most applicants probably do possess the experience and qualifications they present to you, résumé fraud can be an issue, especially with small businesses. Make sure to get verifiable references and to contact each reference.
Even if fraud is out of the question, a reference will be happy to answer questions about your candidate’s skills and other factors that determine whether she is suitable for the job.
Step 4: additional considerations
If there is any financial responsibility involved, a character reference should be requested, and you should run a credit check (if it’s legal in your area) and a check of civil and criminal records using a reliable service that can often be found online.
You may be only one person, but you are now becoming an employer. Just as you will have employer status with tax and legal responsibilities, you also have the right to protect yourself against fraud and criminal action by finding out exactly who you intend to hire.
Hiring your first employee is an important milestone on your journey toward growing and maintaining a successful small business.
Making the right hiring decision by knowing exactly what you need done, and who you need to do it, will guarantee that your employee becomes a real business asset and an integral part of your business.
Creating and advertising the position, setting the salary, and conducting interviews should be done with your business goals in mind.
By doing this, you’ll be able to select the right person to get done everything that you either don’t want to do or don’t feel that you are good at doing.
And that frees you up to pursue your goals – which is why you opened your small business in the first place!
More from Women Grow Business and the family:
- Patricia Frame’s interview with Sharon Armstrong on performance management and authorship
- Another great piece by Patricia, where she says, “Remember it’s people, not sheep”: why performance management is an art
- Thursday Bram offers more thoughts on when you should hire your first employee at Grow Smart Business
Image: Elana Centor via Flickr, Creative Commons
Renee Brown and her company, Your Career My Advice, knows exactly what it takes to completely upgrade anyone’s career. She brings expertise as a human resources professional in multiple Fortune 500 companies. As an MBA career expert and consultant, she helps her clients gain more interviews, get more job offers and ultimately make more money. While working with university clients, she builds relationships between the universities and organizations to ensure students have job opportunities. Talk to Renee on Twitter.