Your to-do list is full, you’re making good money, and you don’t have room in your calendar for even one more client. Congratulations! You’re due (or past due) to hire your first employee!
The hiring process seems intimidating, especially if you’ve never hired or outsourced before. But with the right preparation, you can bring on a new team member with ease and scale your business without increasing your personal workload. Here’s how!
When Is The Right Time to Hire Your First Employee?
Whether your hiring an employee or contractor, I always suggest outsourcing before you need to. Here’s what I mean:
Most business owners don’t realize they need an employee until they’re covered up in client work, behind on their financial tracking, and absolutely burnt out. By that point, they don’t have any leftover time or energy to do the necessary work that comes with hiring (like interviewing prospective hires, training new employees, or organizing their business processes).
On the other hand, if you hire before it gets to that point, you’ll have the time and energy to hire the right way and train your new employees well. Plus, you’ll get the support you need before you reach the point of burnout. (And trust me, it’s always better to avoid burnout when you can.)
The Financial Side of Hiring an Employee
Of course, there are a lot of financial decisions to consider when hiring a new employee. Even if you can afford their wages, you need to make sure you’re ready to manage payroll, provide benefits, and withhold taxes for that employee.
I always suggest speaking with a financial professional before taking the leap. Even if you don’t want to hire a full-time bookkeeper, a financial pro will be able to advise you on how to do your own bookkeeping and file taxes for your employees.
6 Things Everyone Should Do Before Hiring Their First Employee
Before you bring in outside help, complete these six steps to prepare your business, your future employee, and yourself for the adjustment.
1. Simplify, systematize, and organize your business.
If you’ve worked a few nine-to-five jobs, you probably know the feeling of turning up on your first day only to discover that your new employer is less than efficient. Unorganized files, a lack of processes, a messy office–that kind of environment might make a new hire less than enthusiastic about the job.
The same is true with online businesses. If your business is disorganized or overly complicated, your new hire might get overwhelmed. Plus, you’ll end up spending more time training them than you need to. No one wants that.
Before you hire your first employee, prioritize simplifying, systematizing, and organizing your business.
To simplify your business…
Consolidate your scheduling, invoicing, and client communication software into one CRM.
Create a standard pricing structure for all your products or services.
Choose two to three platforms you want to market yourself on, and perfect your strategy for those platforms.
To systematize your business…
Make templates of files you use or duplicate often.
Create standardized onboarding and offboarding processes you can repeat for all new clients.
Set regular working hours for yourself, and determine which days you’ll be available for meetings.
To organize your business…
Delete unnecessary files, backup important ones, and organize everything else.
Consolidate all client meetings and work-related events into a single digital calendar.
Organize your email inbox by deleting old emails and moving important ones to labeled folders.
Not only will these steps help your new hire, but they’ll also make your work life a lot easier.
2. Document your processes.
Unless you want to personally walk every new hire through every process in your business, you’ll want to create some training materials.
First, make a list of all the things you do in your business that you could possibly outsource in the future. These don’t have to be things you want to outsource right away. For example, you might include posting on your blog, onboarding a new client, or handling a customer service issue.
Once you’ve made your list, you can start creating materials for each item. Personally, I like to record Loom videos for the processes in my businesses. Then, I organize them all in a Google Drive folder so new hires can watch and re-watch them whenever they have questions. You can also write step-by-step instructions or link to Youtube videos that cover similar tasks.
3. Write a detailed job description.
Before you bring in outside help, you need to decide exactly what you’re going to outsource or hire for. Even if your industry doesn’t legally require you to post a job listing publicly, it’s a helpful exercise for you as the business owner. When you write a job description, you create a detailed list of everything you want your new hire to be responsible for and accomplish in their role. In doing so, you set clear boundaries and expectations.
In your job description, be sure to include…
The job title and summary
A pay or salary range
A detailed list of tasks and responsibilities
Working hours or days you expect your new hire to be available to work
Qualifications or level of experience you’re looking for
Any additional benefits you want to offer
Whether or not you post it publicly, share this document with prospective employees so they understand what’s expected of them.
4. Determine your measures of success.
Unfortunately, not every employee will end up being a good fit for your business. Before you hire someone, set some measures of success.
For example, say you’re hiring a full-time marketing assistant. You might decide that you want them to be fully trained within a month, posting three times per week on Instagram, posting a blog once a week, and creating video content monthly. Maybe your goal is to increase your Instagram engagement by 30% in six months or convert 3 clients per month in your DMs.
Whatever your measures of success, get clear on them before you hire a new employee, and then communicate them once you start the onboarding process. That way, you’re both on the same page and your new employee knows exactly what success looks like in their position.
5. Set your personal boundaries.
The transition from solopreneur to employer is a big one, so make sure you’re taking care of yourself throughout the process. I encourage my clients to…
Set “office hours.” These are the times that both your clients and employees can expect you to be at your desk working (or at least available for questions). Outside of these hours, don’t pressure yourself into checking emails, answering DMs, or doing “just five more minutes” of work.
Prioritize your personal income. I’ve met several business owners who, over time, end up paying themselves less than they pay their employees. Remember, no one will ever work as hard for your business as you do. Make sure you’re setting aside plenty of cash to pay yourself each month.
Take time off. You wouldn’t expect your employees to work 365 days a year. You can’t expect that from yourself, either! Schedule some vacation days, give yourself grace when you’re sick, and don’t be afraid to take time away from your work.
Self-care is a money-making, business-scaling activity. Take care of yourself, and your business (and bank account) will thank you!
6. Talk to a financial professional.
As you might expect, finances get tricky when you hire employees. Between payroll, taxes, and benefits, there’s a lot to learn and a lot to manage.
Before you start the hiring process, reach out to a financial professional to make sure you’ve got all your ducks in a row. They’ll be able to suggest payroll software, help you determine how much you’ll pay employees, and guide you through the financial side of the hiring process.
Thinking of hiring or outsourcing for the first time?
Outsourcing has been pivotal in my business growth, and I’ve seen it help my clients double and even triple their personal income. If you’re ready to start hiring or outsourcing, download my Outsourcing Toolkit!