Hire the most exceptional person, not the most available person.
Bring your first team member on-board is a stressful decision, and one that business owners very rarely make with 100% certainty.
While we can’t provide you with a magic formula to solve this problem, Matt Sampson shares things to consider when thinking about making your first hire:
Cash flow is king
Employees are expensive, particularly the good ones! Ensure you have the money in the bank to sustain the increased fixed costs associated with employing someone who is not fully productive in the immediate term. Run the numbers. Run them again!
Don’t be afraid to go off plan
I am a big advocate for business plans. They allow you to define your company’s destination and map out the most direct path to get there. But I also believe that business plans don’t run companies, owners do. Hire your first employee because you believe it is the right thing to do, not because your business plan tells you to!
Don’t settle for the best of a bad bunch
If you are looking to hire someone, business is going well. It’s likely that business is going well because you are exceptional at what you do. When hiring your first employee make sure that they will improve your company’s brand, not hinder it. Hiring mediocre employees may solve the problem of increased demand in the short term, though this will be outweighed by the long term cost to your business. Hire the most exceptional person, not the most available person.
If your response to this is “What’s a position description?”, you’re not ready to hire someone… Be certain you have a clear understanding as to what your new employee will be responsible for and how long it will take for them to complete these responsibilities. This will assist in deciding whether you need a full-time, part time employee, or no-one at all.
Be prepared to let go
As a business owner, I have found delegation the single hardest skill to learn. As a child, I was brought up with the “If you want something done right, do it yourself” mentality. I’m sorry Dad, you’re wrong! The key advantage of employing someone is that you can share the increasing workload. Make sure you are ready to sacrifice some control. And remember, just because someone doesn’t do it the same way as you, doesn’t mean their way is worse (it may actually be better)!
Like James Bond, always have an escape plan
As business owners, we all plan for the best case scenario – that’s the fun part! Picturing the worst case scenario is significantly less enjoyable. Nonetheless, it is sensible business practice. Before hiring your first staff member, consider what you will do if things don’t go to plan, if demand for your business slows, if sales can no longer support two salaries. Having an exit plan (and being prepared to stick to it) is essential when hiring your first employee.
“Hire slow, fire fast” is a popular saying in the business community
I don’t disagree. If I was being picky, I would change it to “Be measured, but decisive when you hire and fire staff”, though I appreciate it doesn’t flow off the tongue quite as nicely…
As business owners, we sign up to make tough decisions. Hiring your first employee is often one of the toughest. No one but you will know when the time is right and, even then, you won’t be 100% sure. Do your sums, run the scenarios, then make the decision to hire with confidence and conviction – two attributes that your first employee will be looking for in their new boss.
About our contributor // Matt Sampson is an award-winning entrepreneur. At age 22 he founded Aspect Personnel, a Melbourne-based recruitment agency, which is today recognised by BRW and SmartCompany as one of the fastest-growing businesses in Australia. Follow him on Twitter via @mattpsampson.
Image Credit: Andrio Abero