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Hiring your first employee

For young businesses taking on your first employee is a huge step. For companies already with staff it's still a big commitment. Will the extra person make a difference to the bottom line and allow your business to grow?

We've all been there, rushing from task to task, never having the time to concentrate on doing one job well. You think "I can't continue like this, I'll need to get someone to do the admin", or maybe you're splitting your time between finding customers, quoting and then also delivering the service.

But is having that additional help really just a luxury you can't afford? Sometimes it may be. If business is shrinking and times are hard, you could have to keep costs to a minimum until the economy, or your sales, start to pick up.

If though you are at least breaking even, certainly if you can see growth, the addition of another staff member could release your time to drive the business. They may also be specialists in an area (admin/sales/delivery) that you have only been doing because there was no one else.

I've seen owners of small businesses struggling with this decision, working through forecasts and trying to ensure that an additional person can absolutely be justified. That's the right thing to do, but at some point if you feel you it will make a difference you should do it.

It can bring surprising benefits; new skills, a fresh way of looking at the business, or experience that enables options which weren't there before. Many times also the business simply grows to match the extra effort now being put in. Occasionally it's difficult to pin down why, but it does.

Now this bit is important. There is a consistent message from successful entrepreneurs when they are asked what lessons they have learnt and can pass on to others, it's always employ the best people you can afford. Often these best people may actually earn more than the owner of the business (at first).

Do make sure that they have the same work ethics as yourself and that you feel you can communicate well with them.

Some resources to help you in taking on staff:

Employing staff for the first time

The Best People and How to Hire Them

How to Hire the Best People. By Marc Andressen

Taking on a Partner