Top tips for small businesses looking to make their first hire

Wednesday 14th December 2022

If you run a small business and have reached the point where you are thinking about taking on your first employee, you may need a few helpful tips to ensure that the person you hire is the right person for you at this time.

Trusting your first hire is important as giving up some control of the day to day running of your business can be difficult. As you are likely to be working closely with them, find someone you like and be prepared for a change in the dynamics within your company.

Ideally your first hire will be one that allows you to focus on the important tasks of growing your business by alleviating your workload. This could be the first step to opening up a new world of possibilities for your company and a positive move for you.

So how do you go about making sure that the first person you employ is the right person for you and your business? We have come up with 9 tips to help you prepare, plan and give you the best chance of making a success of your first hire.

1. Think hard about what you need.

Be clear in the role you want for your first employee; you may feel that you need someone to help you but be more specific about this. What exactly do you want them to do when they come in? Having a clear idea of this will help you both during the interview process.

Examine your own strengths and weaknesses. What does someone else need to bring to the table to ensure that together you will strengthen the company? Decide whether you need someone long term or on a short-term basis. If it’s short term then hiring on a freelance basis may be a better solution.

2. Fill support roles first

For your first hire it is advisable to bring them in for a supportive role. Don’t try to fill key positions straight away as you will be unlikely to attract an experienced person to join a small company and if you do, they may not stay for long.

It is wise initially to look for someone who can take over jobs that don’t take long to learn. Asking a new employee to help with complex tasks when they don’t have the necessary skills can be risky and you will have to invest a lot of time teaching them.

3. Complement your strengths

Focus on hiring someone who can complement your strengths but more importantly compensate for your weaker areas. This may be difficult with a small budget but at least make sure your first employee can relieve you of the time consuming and repetitive tasks, to free you to focus more on growth and development.

4. Look for a well-rounded individual

Though finding a candidate based on their professional skills is quite straight forward, you need to make sure that they also have the right kind of motivation, attitude and a keenness to learn. This may mean taking on someone who doesn’t quite have the experience you require but has bag loads of positive attitude and can be trusted and relied upon.

5. Be clear about what you can offer

It is unlikely that you will be able to pay your first hire a high salary so make sure you explain what other benefits are on offer. You may be able to provide flexible working hours and/or the chance to work from home as well as opportunities to develop skills of value to them and their career.

It may be possible to offer incentives that provide a financial benefit from improved sales or even discounts on your products and goods. Think carefully, other benefits aside from cash all hold value to the right person.

6. Think about your interviewing questions carefully

Find out as much as you can about the candidates during the interview. Ask open ended questions and give them time to answer. If they have worked before, find out about their previous roles and what they’ve achieved in the past.

Ask about the kind of work they enjoy and how they like to work. Your first hire may only be working with you so make sure they are aware of this.

7. Diversity

Make this an important part of your recruitment process so try to think outside the box. Many talented people are overlooked due to their life circumstances and may not come across well in an interview, but try to see beyond this and look for people who have unique skills with lots of potential.

8. Do your research

Get references if you can and see if they have a presence on social media. This will go some way to giving you an idea of who they are and what they’re about.

Google them if necessary and see what comes up!

9. Be a good employer

Once you find a good employee try to keep hold of them. Make sure they feel appreciated and provide them with professional development; this will create a loyal employee which is a very valuable asset to a small business.

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