How to hire your first staff member successfully

Stephen Paul, Valued

Hiring your first member of staff can be a daunting time, but if you budget and plan for it you'll find it a much more successful endeavour. Join us to learn more about how to hire your next staff member successfully.

Where to start in hiring your first team member

Your team is the biggest asset your business will have, but the process of hiring can be both frightening and exciting. Today we want to help you think about how to make the most of your very first hire.

Here’s what our Managing Director, Stephen Paul believes you should consider in those early stages.

1. The need

Most people start off as a sole trader in business, but as they grow they soon realise that they are really busy and can’t quite keep up. Some decide that actually they are quite happy to remain a sole trader and decrease, or turn away extra work accordingly, whilst others look to employ their first member of staff.

The thing to consider, if you are looking to make an employment, is where your new team member will fit into your business. We talked about the areas we think you should consider in a previous live session. Take some time and map out where you see your first employee fitting into your business structure.

2. Your time

The second thing we advise you should look at is your time. Where will a new team member most benefit your time saving? If that new staff member was to focus on one key area for you, would that free you up to work on growth in another area, or maybe take time off to spend with family?

Consider how your decisions impact your future, as well as your business, because as you develop a team you need to make sure your time is valued and not complicated further.

3. Your income and your budget

Looking at your budget you should be able to recognise quite quickly how you can afford that first team member and what needs to happen in order to make that first hire profitable. This could be employing a team member to bring in and maintain their own accounts, from which the business benefits in profit.

If you use Xero, then we recommend the Fathom integration, which allows you to create forecasts which is great for planning that ‘what if’ scenario. It is crucial that you understand your figures, so that you employ a team member in good faith that you will be able to pay them from month to month.

4. Set a clear job description and stick to it

Roles and responsibilities are crucial, not only for good workflow, but also for boundaries. It is all too easy for business owners to habitualise micromanagement or take work back on because they haven’t set clear responsibilities, or they are struggling to let go. With your first hire you need to hand over and allow your team room for growth. A motivated team is a team who are responsible for their own creativity, development and growth. Of course your ownership role now becomes about leadership and making your vision (your goals) clear for the business to aim towards.

Setting your workforce roles clearly also brings accountability from which you can set KPIs to review in one-to-ones, or leadership meetings.

5. Finding that first hire

We always recommend that you develop a close working relationship with a specialist recruitment agent. Having this deeper connection means that the agent is always on the lookout for the perfect fit for your business and comes to you, even if you aren’t looking, with candidates they know will be a good investment.

On top of this tactic, of course there are the usual avenues of marketing for employment, whether it is social media, local paper ads, or job centre postings. When you make this move, we recommend not just outlining the basics of the job, but really going deep into exactly what you are looking for. This works great in video format, so your potential employee gets a good feel for you and your business. You’ll find your applications are much easier to sift through this way, because you have created a clear profile of who you are looking for.

Networking also provides connections that might later be useful, whether that is hiring a connection as a team member, or being introduced to potential candidates and partners through referrals.

6. Set up a recruitment process

Make sure you have a process in place from how you market your new positions, to how you interview and then onboard that first person. Open yourself up, make it personal. You will find that the right candidate will feel invested in your business and your goals from day one, if you take the time to welcome them to your team the right way.

7. Understand your legal obligations & employee rights

PAYE reporting is a crucial system to set up in terms of your finances. On top of this we recommend creating your business employment contracts, policies and procedures for every step of a staff member’s journey; from onboarding to exiting your business.

Legally you will also need employers liability insurance.

Covering yourself and your business is one thing, on top of ths you also need to understand the rights of your employees. You need to have processes set up for staff holidays, maternity and paternity pay, sickness benefits, retirement processes and your staff's mental and physical well being whilst in your employ.

One thing to consider is that not all employees will care as much about your business as you do, they won’t be driven to work as hard as you do for your goals. On rare occasions where an employee clearly isn’t the best fit for your business, you will need to make sure you have disciplinary processes in place before you get to contract termination.

8. Accept that your employees will do things differently

As business owners we are invested heart and soul into our businesses. We have particular ways of doing things. Our employees may not feel the same way. You must accept that and allow them space to create opportunity and results in their own method (within an overall remit). You have to change your mindset in order for team and business growth to work. You have to think of your relationship as a partnership almost; both striving towards the same goal, even if your approach is slightly different.

Hiring your first staff member successfully doesn’t have to feel scary

If you take the time as a business owner to decide clearly what your goals are for the business and map out your first staff employment process, you will find that you can be successful in that first hire. It doesn’t need to feel scary, in fact it can be a delightful experience. Getting it right takes some work and consideration, but your employees will soon be your biggest business asset.