How to Know When It's Time to Hire Your First Full-Time Employee
At some point in your journey as an entreprenuer, the time will come when you need to ask yourself: is it time for me to hire my first employee?
As a serviced based business, we hired part time and contractor staff for two and a half years before employing our first full time employee. As a small business, there are lots of worries and questions you ask yourself before deciding to employ someone.
The thoughts you might be having are "What if I can't afford to pay someone" "What if I choose the wrong person?" "What if they quit?" "what if they aren't good at their job" and so on...
The truth is, you'll never know the answers to these questions if you don't take the plunge. A bad hire is better than no hire, especially if you need to share the workload, get expert skills that you perhaps don't have yourself, or you want to get more business. Here are a few questions you should ask yourself before hiring someone:
1. Do you have enough income to pay them and get an office?
Hiring someone can be costly but highly beneficial to your business. Do you have enough money to pay them and get an office is probably something that has gone through your mind if you don't already have a space of your own. Lots of self-employed people work from home due to the fact that it's free and if you can be disciplined with yourself then why wouldn't you?! However, when you hire someone, it's probably time to move out too. Letting a stranger into your home can be ok if you have a dedicated office space, but let's face it - working from your dining table or sofa isn't healthy and it's not particularly professional either.
A great way of branching out into an affordable office is to look at the following two options:
a. Serviced offices (your own private room)
b. Co-working spaces (you sit with other like minded entrepreneurs, the downside being it's not as private.)
2. Are you prepared to take a pay cut?
You might have to take a pay cut to begin with in order to afford paying an employee, but think about how much free time you'll have when you're sharing your workload to win new clients, and create new verticals and income sources. To make more money and expand your business, you need to get more customers which means you'll eventually have to employ someone! Even if it means taking a pay cut in the short term...
3. Will hiring someone save you money or make you money?
These are two very important points to consider when employing someone. Will your employee save you money or make you money? In a start-up or small business you probably won't need to hire an employee to save you money as there isn't much money to save here - however - your employee needs to justify their addition to your company. Whether they're making physical sales, going out and getting more customers, or taking away part of your workload so that you can go out at find more business as the face of your brand, make sure that they are justifying their place.
4. Do you need someone with a particular set of skills that you don't have?
You as an entrepreneur have a particular set of skills or knowledge that makes you good at your job in your field. In the same way that a digital marketeer wouldn't be able to cut someone's hair (well, I could but I would feel sorry for whoever is the recipient of said hair cut!) I don't have the time or will to perfect skills such as graphic design - because a graphic designer by profession could do a much better job than I ever could! For that reason, if there's a role you couldn't do yourself - either outsource it - or if it saves you money/time and you have enough work for someone, hire full time!
5. What are you looking for in an employee?
Before you start interviewing, decide what tasks they will be doing. Out of this list, what skills do they need to possess in order to complete these tasks? For us, experience is great, but the key to a good employee is a go-getter attitude! Our first employee didn't have much experience, but she had a "I can do anything I set my mind to" type of attitude, which is far more important than someone who has the right experience but a stereotypical millennial attitude of "I won't do anything outside of my job description".
Don't be afraid to hire. You likely had to take a risk when starting your own business and leaving safe, full time employment - this is exactly the same. If you make a bad hire, at least you know what you're not looking for in the future, or if you hire at the wrong time, you'll learn from your mistakes and make better decisions in the future. Being an entrepreneur is all about taking risks and learning from both good and bad experiences along the way.
You're also probably aware that until you hire for the first time, your company isn't likely to grow as quickly - which is something you want....right?