When is it time to hire my first employee?

Michael Giuffrida team imageFor many entrepreneurs, they believe that the first real outward sign of their success is when they hire their first employee.  Makes sense right?  Now their venture went from “my job” to a “real business”.  However, this decision is not one to take lightly and also not one to rush in to.

Having employees can change the entire feel of your business.  And not just for you, but also for your clients.  There is now someone else who will be adding to the face of the company, making decisions, and delivering customer experiences.  And if they don’t do it like you did, that could be disastrous for a young business.

Now don’t get me wrong, the only way for most businesses to grow is by hiring some help because one person can not do everything, all I am suggesting is that you take the time to do it right.  Here are some things to consider when thinking about hiring your first employee:

  • Will this person be as passionate about what we are doing as I am?
    • The answer to this question may not be yes, but you should at least know where you stand going in to ensure that you are not hiring them under the false assumption that they will be your “mini-me”.
  • If there are up and downs in the business, will this person be willing to go the extra mile to help keep the business running?
    • Having a “right hand” person can be important in both business cycles.  When things are good there is more work to do to satisfy clients.  When things are bad there is more work to do to get more clients.  Either way, the right hand person will be all you have to get you through.
  • Can this person be trusted sensitive information about the business?
    • When there are only two of you, it is likely that you will share a lot of the gory details about the business with this first employee.  When you do so, it is important that they can be trusted to keep that information to themselves so your prospective market doesn’t see what is “behind the curtain” as you are growing.
  • Will you be able to let this person go if the business can not sustain them?
    • While this is a question you need to ask for every new hire, often times the first hire ends up being a friend or family member who is looking for some part time work.  If you hire a friend or family member, it can be difficult to let them go if the business does not grow and thrive as planned. Be prepared for that and have that conversation up front with them as well.

These are a few questions that you can ask yourself when making your first hire.  Most importantly, make sure that your business is healthy enough to sustain the new employee for a while without sacrificing what you need to earn for yourself.  Because a business that doesn’t pay you is not a career, it’s a hobby.

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Michael Giuffrida from Southington CT has been operating businesses since 1997.  He is an experienced entrepreneur in business management, profitable growth, business valuation, mergers and acquisitions, and information technology managed services.

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