When’s the right time to hire your first employee?

first hire blog header

As a small business owner, the time to hire, especially your first employee, is one of the most difficult decisions you have to make.  

Most likely you get to a point where you’re overwhelmed with the workload, feel like you need help, but also don’t have the time to train.

You possibly also feel that your business is your baby and no one could ever do the job as good as you (we’ve all been there, don’t worry!).

And then the fear of the responsibilities of employing someone kicks in – can you afford them, what if things slow down, where would they work, how do I pay them, and possibly many other fears will creep in here that put you off.  It all feels too big and scary.

So you do nothing and continue in a vicious cycle of feeling overwhelmed, but having no time to train, sort anything out and so on.

But here’s the truth bomb – and it’s said with love.  You are overwhelmed and probably dropping some balls.  You have the skills etc to do things at 100%, but in reality as you’re so stretched you’re probably at 60-70% – maybe even 0% for some things because they just aren’t getting done.

Your personal life is probably suffering too, as you’re constantly working, and fitting in life when you have to.

This isn’t what it was meant to look like setting up your own business, it was meant to give you that freedom and balance that you so desperately wanted and converted when setting up your business.

If you’re feeling like this, then NOW IS THE TIME TO HIRE!


Where to start

First off, take a typical week and as you go (so you don’t forget) write down every little thing that you do, each task as you do it, and probably all the tasks you don’t get to as well!

Then take some time to reflect – could someone else do that?  Make some lists of what could say an admin person take off of you?  Are there tasks a skilled person could take off of you – i.e. marketing, finance? Depending on your business do you need an additional operational team member – i.e. if you’re a plumber do you need a second plumber?

Go through every task and realistically allocate them to future team members.  You will then be able to see which list is the biggest (maybe not necessarily in the number of tasks, as some could be a number of 5 minute jobs, but others could be bigger jobs, just less of them).  The biggest list is the person you need to hire first – as they will have the biggest impact on your overwhelming workload.


But how do I train them?

This is probably what you’re thinking – you’re so overwhelmed, you don’t want to add more to your plate with training somebody else – it will mean even more work!  And yes, this is where you’re going to experience some short term pain for long term gain!

Depending on the nature of your business will depend on how you can train, but here are some ideas to consider:

Admin tasks/computer based roles – next time you do a task, record yourself doing it with something like Loom.  You can then build up a little library of training videos, as you’re doing the tasks you do!

Shadowing – I actually think people learn a lot this way – just let the person watch you do it!  Yes they will probably ask questions as you go, but if you’re showing as you go, how you would do it, they’ll start to understand how you do things, and why you do it that way, and they can then start to do them overtime with you supervising.  Yes this will mean it may take you a bit longer, but just focus on that long term gain!

Training courses – now this may sound obvious – but are there training courses you can send them on to get the basics of the role, and then you just cover the bits you need to – ie how you want things done?  We have this with Xero – each employee will do the Xero Certification course, then we train the PPF way after!

Get inventive – think about how you can do things differently to help them on their way.

Then you get your first employee to document all your processes ready for the next hire and so on 😉


But they won’t do it as good as me!

Remember what I said earlier – although you can do it at 100%, you’re so stretched that you’re probably at 60-70% at best.  Isn’t someone else doing it at say 75% better than that?  Or even at 50% if you’re not even getting to do it at all??  They will learn and get better as they get doing the job – and will probably bring more to the table and actually improve your process, have additional ideas you can implement to make your product or service even better.


But it still feels so scary!

And yes, I totally get this, every new hire we make feels even scarier than the one before.  Maybe if cost and things slowing down are an issue look at part time – someone who can be flexible and maybe do a bit more when it’s busy, and a bit less during quieter times?  This way the cost won’t be so big, and the commitment doesn’t seem so scary.

Understanding the full costs of employing someone too will really help and put things into perspective.  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 there are also things like the tools they need – a laptop for example, and possibly additional software subscriptions for things that are charged per person.  If they need to wear a uniform then factor this in too.  Look at all the costs involved, not just the wages.  Then plot this out with your income and other expenses – does it work?  Would you need to take a pay cut yourself temporarily?  Remember that most employees should cover their costs with the extra work that either they allow you to bring in, or the extra work that they can bring in themselves.  If you need help with this we can help in the form of a budget and really plotting out what the costs and potential additional income could be, so you have some clarity, and feel more comfortable.

We can also help with the payroll side of things and the legal side of things – so don’t stress about those – just ask, we’re here to support you in this step – this doesn’t need to be scary.


What about outsourcing?

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!  We’re currently putting together a second blog on this topic so keep your eyes peeled for more!


In summary

Hiring employees is a big step, but having someone else do some of the work will bring so many benefits to you personally and your business that if you’re feeling at all like we shared at the beginning, then this is the big step you need to take.

Now that you’ve decided that the time is right, the next step is how do you go about hiring an employee?  But don’t worry – we’ve got you covered!  Check out our blog on how to hire!