Hint: It wasn't easy.
This was something that I was excited about, but also extremely nervous about. I was going to be handing over part of my business to someone else that I didn't know. If your business is a party of one and you're thinking about taking the leap of bringing on an employee, this post is for you.
Throughout the post, I'm going to identify questions you should ask yourself before you consider hiring your first employee.
I hired my first employee in January of 2016, and we really needed one way earlier than that. Up until then, it was my fiancé and I who fulfilled orders and worked on the business. Originally it was just me, but the busier I got the more he helped out. By the end of 2017, Nick and I were constantly slammed with orders, but we weren't able to hire anyone because we were running the business from my apartment. That was a major setback for a few months, but we finally got keys to our office in January and were able to bring on the employee we had hired in November. Luckily, she was willing to be on standby until we got the office.
Do you have enough work for another person?
Hiring an employee can make you feel super official with your biz, but let's be honest. If you don't need one, then you simply don't need one. Not sure if you have enough work for someone else? Test it out. Hire someone as a contractor or temporarily for a few weeks and see how it goes.
Our first office was a solid 64 square feet. And we fit three people in it. Talk about being close with your coworkers. We had a common area because the office was in a local incubator, so most of the time at least one person would sit out there and work white the other two were actually in the office.
Do you have space for another person?
When I say space, I mean physically and mentally. Physical, as in do you have a chair and table for them. I wasn't going to bring on an employee I didn't know in my apartment. It would've been odd having someone come to work in my own home, and I was already having enough issues separating work and home. Mental, as in can you handle it. It's a lot of responsibility, and a lot of stress, but all businesses have growing pains.
Paying the bills
I didn't start taking a paycheck until I hired my first employee, and neither did Nick. A lot of entrepreneurs are eager to get their first paycheck, but I held off for over a year. I reinvested profits back into the business, and it paid off.
If you are not taking a paycheck from your business, will you be able to give one to someone else?
Paying someone else can be stressful. My employees are all hourly, so I constantly try to give them the hours I promised them so their paycheck comes out how they expected. But some weeks at the office are slow. Maybe orders are down one week, and you don't need them as much. How much will an employee cut into your profits? Their paycheck will definitely be something to consider when pricing your good or service at first, but will having an employee increase your order capacity, increase sales, and make your business more efficient, so you don't have to worry about breaking even? Hiring an employee should improve your business overall. For us, it increased our order capacity and productivity, helping us take more orders and make more money.
Imagine Your Perfect Employee
Do you know who you are looking for, and what they will be doing?
What do you want your new employee to do for you? What skills should they have? When will they work? What are some qualities and traits they should have? Do they need specific education or certifications? Do they need a laptop, vehicle, camera, etc?
Be upfront with what you're looking for on the job posting, and post it in places where you think you would find this person. Do you think they would hangout at Starbucks? Would they find this posting on LinkedIn? Maybe you're looking for an intern, so doing a job posting targeted at college students may be a good route.
Once you have applicants who are interested, narrow it down to those you are wanting to learn more about. DO NOT go into the interview without preset questions and a notepad. This should not be a casual "get to know you" conversation, you want to make your decision based on more than their personality and ability to converse with you over coffee. Create your questions based off of your job posting, and use the same questions for every applicant. Your questions should be situational, about previous experiences in their life to see how they react to real life situations. Make a scoring system (ex- 1 through 5), and after they answer the question, write their score next to the answer and a few notes to help you remember what they said.
Making a Decision
Do a second round of interviews if necessary, but once you have completed the interview process you have to make a decision. I typically bring Nick (my fiancé) to all of the interviews and he helps me make a decision. It's nice to have another opinion and another person at the interview, because they may notice things that you don't. This person should be involved with your business (a mentor, close friend, or business partner), and know the details of who you want to hire.
Compare the scores of your different applicants, then discuss their answers to the questions. I believe in hiring based on character rather than skill. You can train someone to use Excel proficiently, but you can't train someone to be honest. Look for characteristics in your applicant that would be necessary in your business. For me, I look for people who are detail oriented, trustworthy, and genuinely care about making the customer happy. I have certain questions and phrasing in my job posting to attract individuals with these traits, and the questions help me find out if they actually have them.
Do you feel confident trusting your business with any of the applicants based on their interview?
Don't rush into hiring someone. If you didn't find someone you think would be a good fit, go at it again. It may seem like a lot of work, but your business is worth it. Training an employee is costly, and you want to spend that money on the right person.
Yay!! You've chosen your new employee, and hired them. Congratulations! Now comes training. On your employee's first day at work, set some expectations. I give every employee a two week trial period. During these first two weeks, I can usually tell if someone isn't a good fit. For you, this could be longer, maybe even three months! At the end of the trial period, I either let the person go or bring them on as an official employee, or maybe even extend the trial period if I'm unsure. The trial period is also good if you don't know if you actually need the extra help!
I hope you enjoyed this blog post, and I wish you the best in hiring your first employee! Check out our other blog posts for more business tips + ideas.