When is the right time to take on my first employee? 

Deciding when to hire your first employee is a significant milestone for any business owner. It’s a sign that your business is growing and that you need additional help to continue to scale up. 

Are you feeling any of these right now?  

  1. Overwhelmed with workload;
  2. Like you need help;
  3. Like you aren’t doing anything to 100% of your ability as you are so stretched;
  4. Like you have no time to train a member of staff;
  5. That no one could ever possibly do the job as good as you;

If you are experiencing some of these feelings then now is the time where you need help in your business.  If you ignore these feelings and do nothing, then nothing will change.  You will carry on in the vicious circle of being overworked and overwhelmed.  

So, now is the time to get some help.  Here are some initial steps you can take to make that decision easier.  

Step 1: Consider what you need help with

Do you know how many hours you work in a week?  Do you know what you do with those hours?  If not, start writing down every single thing you do in your business, and I mean everything.  Keep a notebook or your phone with you all the time and write the tasks down in real time, so you don’t forget them. 

Don’t forget to write down the tasks you intend to do that day, but don’t get around to. 

Do this for a week then review what you do.  Consider if someone else can do those tasks.  Can any be outsourced to a skilled person? Are any of the tasks something an admin person should be doing?  I bet a lot of what you are doing are things you shouldn’t be; your skills are better used elsewhere.  And be brutally honest with yourself; don’t kid yourself that you ‘need’ to be doing all these things. 

Go through every task and realistically allocate them to future team members.  That will help you see if you just need some outsourced help e.g. bookkeeping, marketing, or if you need someone in-house who can take a lot of these things off you.  The biggest list is the person you need to hire first – as they will have the biggest impact on your overwhelming workload.  A lot of businesses find their first hire is an admin person who can take away the more mundane, but important, tasks that the business owner shouldn’t be doing.  

Step 2: Document everything

Once you have decided on the basic role of the new employee, you need to think about how you are going to train them.  You have to MAKE the time for this.  Otherwise, as I said above, you will be stuck in the same rut you are in. 

Make your life easier by documenting everything you currently do in the business that you want someone else to do.  Next time you do one of these tasks, record yourself doing it (Loom videos are great for this) and save it for training your new employee.  I have done this with my staff and it works well; it means I don’t have to sit right beside them as they learn a task, and I can get on with other things.  

Step 3: Get over yourself

Imagine if Richard Branson had told himself no one could ever do the job as well as him?  The Virgin empire wouldn’t exist.  

It’s easy to tell yourself that no one else could possibly do the job as well as you.  

Yes, your business is your baby, but taking on staff members can be so satisfying if you get the right person.  Remember – you aren’t doing anything at 100% as you are so stretched.  Isn’t someone else doing it at say 75% better than that?  They will learn and get better as they start doing the job.  

You have to let go, and get over yourself. 

Step 4: Think about the numbers

What are the working hours going to be?  Can you afford to pay someone?  Taking someone on part time at first can be a good option; it feels slightly less scary and will be less financial cost.  Understanding the costs of an employee is crucial.  On top of the hourly rate or salary you’ll also potentially have to pay Employers National Insurance and pension contributions too if their wage is over a certain amount.

Then consider things like equipment, laptops, software.  Plan these costs out and make a budget.  It doesn’t have to be fancy, just something simple to give you clarity.  And of course, we can help with that!  

But what about outsourcing?  Could that be a better option than hiring? 

Now this is a big consideration – outsource or hire?  And it will come down to a number of things, but mainly your goals, your personal preferences, and the role in question.  I will cover this in more detail in a future blog but here is a general overview of when you might outsource over hiring.  Outsourcing is where you engage a subcontractor to do work for you, who is not employed by your business. 

  • Short-term needs: If you have a short-term need for a particular skill set, outsourcing can be a more cost-effective option. This is particularly true if the work is not critical to your core business;
  • Cost savings: Outsourcing can often be less expensive than hiring an employee, especially if you don’t have the resources to hire and train someone in-house. This is particularly true if you don’t have a consistent need for the skill set in question.
  • Specialised expertise: If you need specialized expertise that you don’t have in-house, outsourcing can be a great option. This allows you to access expertise that you wouldn’t be able to afford or justify hiring in-house.
  • Flexibility: Outsourcing gives you greater flexibility to scale up or down depending on your needs. This can be especially beneficial if you have a project with a specific end date or if you need to adjust your staffing levels based on changing needs.  

I have done both in my business and outsourcing was a good stop gap to allow me some breathing space.  Ultimately though, I want to employ people in my local community and develop a workforce, and as scary as it was at first, I really enjoy building a team.  It is very satisfying. 

It’s a scary step

Hiring employees is a big, scary step, but just think of how you would feel having someone else to bounce ideas off and to do some of the work you aren’t getting round to doing!  You might feel fearful of being responsible for someone’s job, being unsure if you can afford but if you bury your head in the sand then guess what?  You will still feel like this in a month’s time.  Nothing changes if nothing changes. 

This blog covered some of the initial considerations you need to make when you are first deciding to hire staff.  The next one in this series will cover more of the practicalities when it comes to employing staff, where I will delve into what it will cost, what your legal obligations are etc.  Stay tuned! 

If you want to reach out to me and discuss any of the points in this blog then you can usually find me on Instagram, or if you want help in your business please fill out the contact form here and we will be in touch.

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