As business owner and mentor to others, I can tell you from first-hand experience that, ‘When should I hire an employee?’ is never an easy question to answer!

You have worked really hard over the past year or two and are passionate about your business and what you offer your customers. You are the heart, soul and head of the business and your customers have an excellent relationship with you. But you’re not wholly confident that another person can replicate that passion and dedication, or that you can nurture someone to become that person.

As a start up who has grown, seemingly to the place where you can expand and take on an employee, it’s nerve wracking to think that you will be handing over the reputation of your business to someone else. What if they turn out to be a flop? What if you feel exposed as an inexperienced leader? What if you can’t generate enough work for them?

First of all, relax. You’re not alone.

It’s been on your mind from the moment your business was conceived, whether subliminally or as an identified goal for the future, but there is always that stomach-churning moment when you ask yourself the big question: ‘Is this the right time?’

Change your perspective

One successful tactic I use throughout my coaching, is to look at your problem from another angle. In this instance we can turn the question on its head and ask, ‘Do I know when I shouldn’t hire someone?’

Are you desperate for an extra pair of hands?

Decisions that will affect the future of your business, your clients’ relationships with you, or your cashflow, should never be made under high stress. If you have more work than you can manage, there are other short-term measures you can take to alleviate the desperation so you can continue to deliver your promise to your customers. This allows you to get an objective view on your readiness to employ.

Is it clear what duties can be delegated?

Everything about you and your business will be unfamiliar to a new starter, no matter what their experience is. It might be unreasonable to expect them to be on the same level as you in the first few weeks and so the type of work you can ask them to do may need to be smaller, simpler tasks, with longer deadlines. That way it’s easier for you to plan a defined set of responsibilities and expectations for them and allow time to review their work before it is committed. Which leads me to ask…

Do you have time to commit to nurturing?

Your new employee will need hand-holding and guidance in the first few weeks, so if you don’t have time to support them, or you don’t have confidence in leaving them to manage themselves for a while, then you may not be ready to hire. Again, we would look at other time management tactics to allow this to work.

Getting strategic

I talk a lot about trigger points in my coaching. There is a way to recognise that moment when the decision to hire is the right thing to do:

TIP: Write down all the indicators that would give you confidence to hire that person. For example, the level of work you have in process, or in your pipeline, your cashflow and reserves, the capacity of your existing team/yourself. Once this feels more comfortable than uncomfortable, you have a factual basis on which to make your decision. It’s a great way of linking your gut feeling with the facts.

Ok, so you’re sure it’s the right time to hire an employee. You have a defined role for them, you have the time for guidance and training and you’re not overpromising your customers. Let’s ask a few strategic questions to double check.

  • Will the work they do generate income?
  • Will the work they do save the business money?
  • Does the new person bring a new skill set to your business?

In the early days of business, making money is more important than saving it, so if your expenditure for an employee outweighs the income they will generate, you may need to look at what other values they will bring. What additional skills do they have, do they have an established network of contacts and how they can fortify your products or services?

These points fall into what I call ‘Impact Measures’.

TIP: Considering what your business needs, what you want and expect from your candidate, in addition to the traditional job description and person specification, gives you a sound framework for communicating at interview and also measuring those early days in terms of performance, without bringing emotion into the relationship.

What you need to do right now

My experience has taught me that people from all walks of life manage change best when there are clear steps to take and actions to follow that will move you along your path to growth. Interim goals and small changes help you feel less overwhelmed at the big picture.

My website page, ‘Growing Your Business’, outlines these steps and you may find the Knowledge Base – Team category helpful too, but if you still feel that you need support and will benefit from my expertise to make things happen with confidence, I am here to help. Together we will plan and develop your personalised step by step system, so you can successfully grow your business, with a band of happy employees. If that’s your aim…

If you’d like to talk about the considerations raised in this article, feel free to give me a call on 01235 614809 or email me on [email protected].

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