Small businesses in their infancy reach a time when it is necessary to expand their staffing numbers. Weighing up the ramifications to business operations, when do you hire your first permanent employee?

If you are declining work because there simply aren’t enough hours in the day, then this is a good indicator that you are in need of a second pair of hands. However, do you need someone permanently or on a project by project basis? You may also consider if hiring a particular candidate will simply help you to manage your growing workload, or provide a secondary revenue stream. For example, you may be a hair dresser who can offer clients the complementary services of doing their make-up and nails if your hiring decision is strategic. Your business plan will assist you to identify the skills your new staff member will need to help grow and advance your business. When interviewing likely candidates, ask yourself how each applicant can add value to your business. Ideally their skills should complement your own and allow you time to generate new business.

The timing of your decision to hire your first employee will be crucial to the long term success of your business. Do you wait until you have run yourself ragged working 70 hours a week, or do you hire before they’re needed and use the bonus time to train the candidate? An employee’s first six months will not generate a lot of productivity, however over the next eighteen months you can expect to see productivity levels increase considerably.

In a small business one can expect to wear many hats. Every small business owner will know what I am talking about. Your new member of staff will probably juggle many tasks that fall across multiple job titles. A candidate that has worked in a small business before will be more flexible and adaptable to this sort of working environment than someone from a large, highly regulated organisation. So consider carefully if you hire someone who is accustomed to working in a small business, or someone with big business credentials? A cultural fit is vitally important for any business who wants to succeed over the long term and a fish out of water will soon suffocate.

Keep in mind too that it will only be the two of you for a considerable length of time so you will need to like the candidate, get along well with them and be able to trust them. It is also important to know what the job you are offering entails. Writing a job description will help you to define this. It will also provide clarity to the applicant of what is expected of them. A clear direction set from the beginning will avoid confusing and frustrating your employee who will not stay long if the rules are constantly changing. A small business cannot afford high staff turnover.

Building a sustainable business will present many challenges and bringing in the right people at the right time will help you overcome many of these confronting situations. There is no perfect recipe for success though. The plan will differ from business to business and be dependable upon the industry in which you operate, the economic environment and your own ambitious goals.

As a small business owner myself, I grapple with these and many more challenges repeatedly. My experience has taught me think and act wisely and I use this knowledge daily when assisting my small business clients with their hiring decisions. If you are a small business owner and need to chat about your employment options and which hiring strategy is most suitable for your business, you can call me at SJ Personnel for an informal chat on 0487 591 660 or email me at [email protected].

SJ Personnel…connecting you with your future.

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