first hire

How to Make the Right First Hire as a Small Business Owner

By Jamie Nichols Lowary

Are you a startup considering making your first hire? Arriving to this point is a milestone to be proud of! You started with yourself and an idea and now you’re making rapid progress to the point that you’re officially holding your business back because you’re overwhelmed with tasks.

Adding a new employee to your business is a huge step and might even make you feel a little panicky. What if they shift the dynamic and personality of your culture? Will they be dependable and take this as serious as you do? We’ve compiled the top three ways to make the right first hire on your first try.

1. Hire at the Right Time

Some experts say to hire when the extra tasks fall under a particular skill set while others advise you to wait until the job would be revenue-generating, such as a product or marketing position. We say to hire before you’re desperate. A hasty hiring decision might not be the best hiring decision. In First Round’s State of Startups study conducted in 2017, the number one mistake startup founders say they’ve made in growing their business is waiting too long to hire.

Besides, hiring an employee as a startup means you get to move a lot faster. Hire as soon as you need someone if you can afford it. It’s a worthwhile investment when you consider the extra oomph you get from an additional brain with ideas, experience, and hours to contribute towards your cause.

2. Identify the Right Person

It’s exciting to think that someone has chosen to help you and your idea as opposed to all the other opportunities out there for them. You’ve convinced a pool of candidates that they should choose you and now you’re looking for the best match for your organization. You don’t have a lot of time, here are some simple ways to identify the best fit for you right away.

Don’t Forget the Job Description

When deciding to make a new hire, you should establish a list of very specific set of responsibilities and expectations against which you’ll compare the candidates’ skills and qualifications. This will make it easy to eliminate many of your candidates instantly.

Use Your Network

Use your network to advertise the position. If you’re lucky you’ll end up with a candidate from a colleague or friend that will already be pre-qualified when it comes to dependability and trustworthiness.

Use the Interview

When interviewing, have your candidate demonstrate their competency right off the bat by having them complete a task for you that will display a specific skill or aptitude that is important to you.

Use Your Team

If you have a co-founder or other team members already, get them involved in new hires. Finding a cultural fit can be even more important for a startup than skills that can be developed. Your goal is to create one happy family.

3. Set Yourself Up for Success with an Onboarding Plan

Maybe the most overlooked component to a hiring process, the way you onboard a new hire can make or break their longevity and success with your organization.

Onboard Early and Often

It doesn’t end after you extend and offer and it’s accepted. Sometimes it can be weeks or months before their start date and it’s super important to continue communication throughout that period of time. Show how excited you are to have them join them team and you are preparing for their arrival.

This is a great time to address any concerns or questions that may and inform them of what to expect when they come on board. Fortunately or unfortunately, this is also a great time to identify potential red flags or declines in their interest level. It’s better to know if it’s not going to work out before they arrive.

Be Prepared on the First Day

Most new hires will know not to have the same expectations for their first day at a startup as they would for a more established company, but that’s no reason to not be as prepared as possible. Day one sets the tone for their career at your company, emotions can be high on the first day and they may not know what to expect. Have all paperwork, workspaces, and an organized timeline of their first week ready. It’s an opportunity to shine and assure them they made the right decision in joining your team.

Measure Your Success & Make Adjustments

A successful onboarding process is going to develop a highly engaged employee. You’re expecting a lot from your first hire and it’s the contributions the employee makes to the organization’s success early in their career with the company that can be a gauge of success. Document your first onboarding process and make adjustments as you grow.

Making your first hire doesn’t have to be terrifying or too time consuming. Expanding your company for the first time is an exciting time. You’ll know when it’s the right time to hire in order to gain help and fresh ideas. Finding and hiring the right person for your business and having an onboarding plan will ensure that it won’t take much time to obtain an ROI and continue your brand.

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Jamie Nichols Lowary on Twitter
Jamie Nichols Lowary
Jamie Nichols Lowary is the Channel Relations Manager for Tresta, a cloud-based phone system for businesses. Tresta’s easy to use interface allows you to create a completely custom call flow configuration so you can work wherever the day takes you. Follow Jamie on Twitter (@JamieNLowary) for insight into business communication tools, customer service, and more.

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