Most businesses start as a one-man show.  And typically, a business continues that way for quite some time, until the owner becomes so overwhelmed with work that he or she is forced to hire help. (Sound familiar?)  And while hiring that first employee is a great step to take, as it allows you to begin to truly grow your business, if the first hire isn’t handled correctly it can be a disaster. Trust me – I’ve seen it time and time again, and I’d be glad to share some “horror stories” if you want to hear them!

The first employee that you hire will have a tremendous impact on the future of your business, and there are many factors that you must think about before making the hire.  Unfortunately, this process is often rushed, because the business owner is so overwhelmed that he doesn’t take the time to think it through.  Resist the temptation to rush. Below are several steps that must be taken before making that first hire.

  1. You must clearly define the role you are hiring for.  It sounds obvious, but many business owners don’t do this, instead, they hire an employee for a vaguely defined role and let the chips fall as they may.  Before making a hire, you need to decide exactly what your new employee’s role will be.  Sales?  Accounting?  Shipping?  A combination of roles?  There is no right or wrong answer here… as long as there is a clearly defined role.

  2. Find an employee that complements your skill set.  It is human nature to hire someone that you get along with.  And it is important that you get along with your new employee, but it is more important that their skills complement yours.  If your gift is sales, don’t hire another salesperson.  Find someone that can handle the areas you are less proficient in, so that you can focus on your strengths.

  3. Value passion and teachability over experience.  When making their first hire, many business owners want to bring in an experienced employee who can hit the ground running.  This is often a mistake, because it often leads the business owner to give up too much control of the operation to their new employee.  It’s only natural that you would let your experienced employee do things the way he or she has always done them, right.  But if you are trying to differentiate yourself from your competition, the last thing you want it to be just like everyone else.  Instead, look for a passionate, dedicated employee who is willing to buy into YOUR system and wholeheartedly believes in your product or service.

Hiring your first employee is a huge decision.  A good hire will kick-start the growth of your business, while a mistake could set you back months, or even years. Take the time to do it right!