Making the transition from an owner-operated business to one with employees can be a difficult task. As small business owners, we tend to take on too much work, have trouble delegating, and find it daunting to think about another person working in our business. But if your business is to remain competitive and continue growing, you will eventually need to hire an employee.
While there is no magic formula that can guarantee an employee’s smooth integration into your business, there are some key things you should consider before hiring your first employee.
Being Busy Is Not Reason Enough
Being busy is not reason enough to hire your first employee. There needs to be a set of repeatable tasks that can be delegated and effectively completed by another person. Begin by breaking the workload down into a detailed list of to-do's that need attention immediately, in the next few weeks, and in the next few months. Then work out the repeatable tasks that are required every week. You should also think about less critical side projects your employee could work on whenever there is a little spare time.
Doing this may take some time, but it will help you establish whether or not you genuinely need to hire someone, or if you're just very busy doing numerous random things. If you can't translate all these tasks into at least a semi-structured workflow, your employee will become unproductive, have little direction, and you will end up continuously searching for things for them to do.
Know Exactly What The Job Entails
It's important to remember that you should avoid hiring anyone to do a job until you have done it first. By doing the job first and documenting your tasks, you will understand the nature of the work and what a job well-done looks like. You will also be able to write a better job description and know what questions to ask in the interview. Additionally, you will be a much better manager because you will be supervising an employee who is doing a job you have done before.
Hiring Doesn't Mean Full Time
Think outside the box and consider hiring differently. It may make better financial sense to hire remote workers, contractors, or part-time employees. These different types of employment arrangements can ease the financial burden that a regular, full-time employee may present and can also help you test out your systems and job specifications. Once you get a better feel for your business needs, you can then hire a full-time, in-house employee to work alongside you.
You Have A New Set Of Legal & Financial Responsibilities
Realize the responsibility that an employee brings. Once you hire someone, among other things, you are required to withhold and pay taxes on their compensation, file forms with federal and state governing bodies, obtain worker's compensation insurance (in most states), make your workplace safe and up to code, and collect and retain employee records. These requirements and many others can often be overlooked and go from responsibility to liability in the blink of an eye. It's your responsibility as an employer to understand the different labor laws. (For more detailed information, visit the United States Department of Labor website at https://www.dol.gov/)
You Need Proper Systems & Procedures In Place
Last but not least, before bringing on an employee, you must take a good look at your entire business to make sure things are as efficient and organized as they can be. Inviting someone into a disorganized mess is a recipe for disaster and will only make things worse!
Analyzing your business requires a shift in mindset, from thinking about how you alone can get things done, to how you can find the right people and build the right systems to build your business. So before you even think about hiring your first employee, either improve your current systems or in the case of most small businesses, develop, document and implement formal systems and procedures so that future employees clearly understand how your business works and what is expected of them.
The bottom line - Hiring takes time and planning, so it's okay to spend a lot of time recruiting and planning for your first hire. Getting the right employee is your responsibility and can make or break your business, so take the time to do it right!