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5 Tips to hiring your first employee

You are a proud entrepreneur with your company registered, up and running. The next step must be to pick your first team members, right? In fact, this might be a wrong move, making your company unsustainable if you hire too soon.
Jenny Retief, CEO Riversands Incubation Hub
Jenny Retief, CEO Riversands Incubation Hub
Think over these five pointers before you take the leap...

Get your timing right

If you hire too soon, you often find yourself spending valuable time setting up tasks for your employee to do instead of getting on with building your business. Ask yourself:
  • Do I have enough work for this person?

  • Do I have the time to manage them properly?

  • Is my business developed enough to support more than one person?

Check your hiring motivation

Be clear on your expectations before you hire. Ask yourself what you are really looking for in an employee:
  • Do I want to hire someone to help my business achieve more or simply so that I can go around talking about “my staff”?

  • Am I avoiding doing something in my business that I find uncomfortable, such as sales?

  • Am I looking for someone to bounce ideas off? This is a role for your business partner if you have one, not an employee. Or you could find a mentor or business coach for advice.

  • Am I lonely and anxious by myself in this business? There is always a barrier between being a “boss” and an “employee” so it is not realistic to expect companionship and camaraderie from an employee.

The 20-hours rule

Being busy and feeling overwhelmed is not a good enough reason to hire someone. Ask yourself what you need help with and how you can solve this:
  • Are there tasks in my personal life that eat into the time I have to concentrate on my business? Creative solutions could include outsourcing to a lift service for your children or roping in a family member to help at home.

  • Am I comfortable delegating work within my business to an employee? If you are not yet confident enough to share some responsibility, you will still be busy and overwhelmed while your new staffer is playing computer games.

  • How much help do I need? Once you’ve listed 20 hours’ worth of repeatable tasks — things an employee can do week after week — you can start thinking about how to fill that role.

Have your heart in the right place

If you are considering an intern, remember that this is their first experience of being in the workplace. They need to be instructed and coached, which often demands more of your time than you expect.

If the internship is part of work-experience learning within a recognised qualification, you will need to write regular reports for the study institution on the intern’s workload, attitude and progress in skills development.

Get into the gig economy

Bridge the gap between going it alone and permanent staff by starting with part-time employees – a 25-hour work week. This will spare your cashflow as well.

The booming gig economy is your friend, offering easy links to a whole range of part-time or short-term services:
  • Consider platforms such as for outsourcing work like proofreading or web design.

  • Check out platforms such as RecruitMyMom for people looking for flexible and reduced hours’ work.

  • Build your hiring needs around short-term contracts tied to a specific project. This process will also help you to develop management, delegation and collaboration skills that will be a great benefit when you are ready to hire permanent staff.

About the author

Jenny Retief is CEO at Riversands Incubation Hub

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