Your small business has launched, and things are going gang busters. Your days are getting longer with so much to do.  Weekends are long gone managing your small business.  Family and friends rarely see you and your work-life balance is way off track.  The writing is on the wall, it’s time to hire your first employee.  But where to start?

What kind of help do you need?

A common first hire is a person who can handle routine tasks and customer contacts. The theory is that this will allow you, the owner, to focus on strategic planning and analysis. It also should provide you time to plan future growth.

Taking this approach might work, but it also may not be the best use of new resources. Your first employee should be someone who complements your skills and not duplicates them. You need a person who fills the gaps.

Maybe you have great customer skills, including the difficult task of helping potential customers see how your product or service can benefit them and then knowing how and when to ‘ask’ or close the deal. Giving that task to someone else may limit future growth.

Thinking about how your first employee will add to your bottom line needs to be part of your decision also.

Other things to consider when hiring your first employee include:

  • Understand that prior to even looking for your first employee, you must define and document the role you need filled.
  • Be willing to delegate. Understand that when hiring, you will need to give the person some authority and power. Typically, as the owner, you will feel comfortable doing that only in certain areas.
  • What’s the long-term plan? How long might you wait before hiring another employee?  The longer the anticipated time until the next hire, the greater the need for you, as the owner, to consider which of your most crucial needs should be filled immediately. For example, if you anticipate hiring a second employee within a couple of months, then you might look for a different set of skills in your first employee than if your next hire is one, two or more years away.
  • Be willing to make a long-term commitment to a new employee. This first hire should be looked at as someone who will be with the company for a long time. Be prepared to commit and start out, from day one, with a growth plan for that new hire.
  • Think differently about your business’s opportunities and needs. You are about to become an employer and your business is beginning a new phase.

Hiring an employee is a big step in the growth of a business. It indicates not only to you but to the outside community that your products and services are valued. It also shows you are being successful in sales. Turn these into a stream of news about your first hire and the success of your company in general.

Hiring your first employee begins to set the atmosphere of your business. It is worth your time to think about where you are headed and the kind of help you need.