Entrepreneurship can be one of the most rewarding ways to make a living, but it can also be exceptionally stressful. You’re on your own, with no boss or board of directors to advise you, no one else to take the blame for your mistakes, and no coverage should you come down with the flu or have a sick child on your hands.
Not only that, but women who run their own must learn how to divide their time and energy. Is it worthwhile to do your own search engine optimization, for example, or should you outsource it? Who’s taking care of the administrative details while you are connecting with customers or clients (or vice versa)? How can you effectively market your business at a trade show when someone needs to stay behind and man the till.
Before you know it, you will have reached a point where it’s necessary to hire an employee to help out. That process in and of itself can be fraught with uncertainty and doubt, so we’ve gathered up a collection of tips to help you hire the perfect right-hand person!
Decide Which Areas Require Help
What tasks, duties, and responsibilities with the new employee have? That’s the first thing to consider once you’ve decided to bring someone else on board. A good way to look at it is by determining which matters absolutely require your attention, skills, talent, experience, and decision making. For example, if you have built up a reputation as a florist who designs exquisite arrangements, you might want your employee to make deliveries, take orders over the phone, clean up the shop each day, or all of the above.
In other words, it’s usually a good idea to hire someone to help with the so-called grunt work, so you can focus on your core business. Sit down and make a list of the daily, monthly, or quarterly chores that you could easily train another person to perform.
Spread the Word
Before you invest in job board listings or recruiters, ask around. Put out feelers among your customers, fellow small business owners in your area, and social media followers. Often times, a word-of-mouth referral leads to better employees than cattle-call advertisements.
It’s also worth calling the local colleges or universities to ask about their placement or internship programs. Hiring someone who’s still in school, or fresh out of it, can be a cost-saver. An intern is a great solution if you enjoy mentoring others, as well.
You can also find qualified and conscientious employees by hiring veterans. In addition to the industry-specific skills a veteran brings to your company, those who have served their country tend to possess a strong work ethic as well as an eagerness to learn new responsibilities.
Look for Culture Fit In Addition to Skills
When you are interviewing for the position, it’s essential to hire someone you can work well with. This is true for any manager or supervisor, but especially so if you are just a one-woman operation and you’ll be working closely with your first employee. Many skills that are necessary to perform a job can be taught, but personality and culture fit can’t. Keep that in mind as you are interviewing candidates.
That said, don’t overcompensate in this area and hire someone who’s funny and charming, but who is absolutely unqualified in terms of education and experience. You’re not auditioning friends or romantic partners. Insist on professionalism and look at the applicant’s talents, skills, previous accomplishments, and areas of expertise.
Explain All Aspects of the Position Up Front
On the flip side, it’s also crucial that the potential employee understands upfront what he or she will be asked to do. Don’t hide or even downplay any of the less-attractive aspects of the job. If your first hire will be cleaning the bathrooms, scrubbing greasy pots, making cold calls, dealing with difficult customers, or opening the store each day at 5 a.m., make sure you explain that from the get-go.
If you try to whitewash the position and then introduce unpleasant duties later on, you’re liable to find all that recruitment, interviewing, and onboarding you did go to waste, leaving you to start from scratch. Remember that “culture fit” goes both ways.
Do Your Due Diligence
Once you have narrowed down applicants to a shortlist, be sure to call references and conduct background checks. References are an easy way to either confirm a good gut feeling you have about a potential employee, or prevent yourself from making a terrible mistake.
Background checks can be useful, as well. They are more necessary in some industries and positions than in others. For example, if the employee will be making deliveries or driving as part of their duties, a clean driving record is imperative.
Hiring Can Be Difficult, But You Can Stack the Deck
Bringing a new employee on board can feel daunting, but if you break it down into steps and approach each step with the same thoughtfulness and care you bring to your business, it will be the beginning of a beautiful relationship!
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