January 15, 2021 4 min read

when to hire first employee

When is it time to hire your first employee?

Knowing when it's time to hire your first employee is key in scaling your business. If you want to grow your business, you have to know when to hire help so you can keep growing.

In this blog post, I'll share from my own experience how I decided to hire my first part-time employee and eventually my first full-time employee.

when to hire your first employee

Know your numbers

Hiring an employee is just as much of a financial decision as it is a workload decision. If you think you need help fulfilling orders or help answering emails but you aren't paying yourself yet, it may be a time to reevaluate your business's finances. This all depends on the industry you are in, your start-up cost, and your long-term goals for your business.

I personally did not hire anyone else until I started paying myself a little bit. If your business cannot afford to employ you, make sure you have a plan for how it will employ someone else. There are some cases where hiring a second person will help your business to grow and be able to pay both of you, but make sure you have a plan in place.

when to hire your first employee

Who should I hire?

The first hire of a small business is pretty daunting. Those first few employees will play a big role in shaping your business, your work culture, and so many other aspects of your company. 

Some people immediately jump to hiring family or friends thinking it's a "safe" option. That is not always the case. While I know of many successful family businesses, I also know of family businesses and business partners/friends who experienced problems at work that stemmed from personal issues. Plus, it's extra-difficult to provide constructive feedback, complete disciplinary action, or dismiss an employee who is also a close friend or family member.

Ultimately the decision is up to you whether you hire a friend, family member, or a "stranger". I put stranger in quotation marks because if you do your due diligence on an applicant, they are no longer considered a stranger.

When someone you don't know applies for a job at your business, do your research. Contact their references. Read their resume. Then bring them in for an in-person interview. If the interview goes well, invite them out to lunch the following week to get to know them even better. By the end of the process, they aren't as much of a stranger anymore. 

I have hired 50+ people in my career as a small business owner. We've had people on our team who were family, friends, and people I did not know before they worked for us. I have had success stories and not-so-successful stories in each realm. Do your due diligence, treat people the way you would want to be treated, and hope for the best.

when to hire your first employee

How do I find the right candidate?

Create an official job posting to attract professional candidates. Write a job description, job duties and responsibilities, and a list of qualifications so it's clear what you're looking for in an employee.

Post about your job opening on social media, including your personal social media accounts. Some of our best employees came from Facebook! You can also send out the job posting to people in the community to spread the word. Send it to your local chamber of commerce and see if they can share it for you as well!

when to hire your first employee

What tasks should my first employee do?

The job title and tasks of your first employee will likely be a little bit of everything. They'll wear quite a few hats. At least that's how it was in my situation. Be sure to provide adequate training to your employee, and create an "operating manual" that outlines how to do each task at your business so they do it the same way you do.

Think about what jobs are most-needed in your business. What tasks keep piling up? What tasks do you continue to not complete on time? Or, what tasks could an employee do that free you up to do things you are truly passionate about?

When I hired my first part-time employee I assigned her tasks related to fulfilling online orders. That was the area we needed the most help in. We were able to get more orders shipped out and accept more orders because of her help. This justified the expense of her pay and helped us grow our business. It also freed me up to do other tasks I wouldn't have had time for otherwise, like product development or marketing.

when to hire your first employee

No one will care about your business as much as you do

Keep in mind, this new employee may not be as fast (or as good) at certain tasks as you. They will get better with time and training from you. They may never get to quite your level, but that's okay. What matters is that your business has increased its order capacity, is making more money, is more organized, is more efficient, etc. than it was before. 

It's important to remember: No one will care about your business as much as you do. You are not going to find a clone of yourself out there who really cares about your business the same way you do. 

While they won't truly care about your business the way you do, finding employees who are passionate about their jobs and your company is a huge win. Fight for those employees, and keep them as long as you can. Treat them well. 

Looking for more small business tips and resources?

I release new blog posts and content at taylorwalden.com designed for entrepreneurs like yourself!


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