Business Opportunity and Other Small Business Owner’s Quick Guide to Hiring Your First Employee

As the economy improves, your home-based or other micro-business may start booming, so much so that you’ve got to consider whether or not to get some additional help. That would be a great problem to have wouldn’t it? And the solution seems pretty straightforward, right?

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I’ll just hire someone.

But who? To do what exactly? And do I need someone to work for me full-time or part-time? What if a freelancer or some other type of consultant is enough? Have I examined things fully so that I know for sure what I need? What I can afford?

In determining who you need to hire and for what purpose, you’ll essentially want to consider two key things then: the exact nature of what it is you want the person you are hiring to do and the costs associated with your decision. If you do go the freelancer/consultant route, your costs will be relatively easy to calculate. But, if you think you may need to do some actual hiring, that’s a whole different ball game.

Going the hiring-an-employee-of-my-own route means you’ll need to have a well-conceived and thoroughly thought out job description laid out well in advance. It also means you’ve got to do some serious math and consider the expenses involved. Aside from the obvious wage and/or salary issues, other costs of hiring an employee can include various taxes including unemployment, workers’ comp, training, benefits and additional equipment, among others.

Okay, so let’s assume you’ve sifted through all of that, and you still feel that hiring your own first employee is the best way to go. Your big challenge now is to find just the right person for the job, and that’s a big job in and of itself.

One thing is for sure, hiring the wrong person can come at a very high price, and it’s not just the money and time involved that’s at stake. It’s your reputation as well. Bad hires oftentimes result in bad feelings, and bad news does tend to get around—especially now that we have the internet, and social media is so pervasive and accessible.

Fortunately, there are some simple and smart things you can do as a home-based or other small business owner to increase the likelihood that you will choose the right candidate the first time. Here are some of the most important among them:

Network to find what you’re looking for—Posting a job description on the major jobs boards like Monster and CareerBuilder is great, but trying to manage the huge volume of responses that roll in may be overwhelming if you have limited resources, especially given today’s job market. The best candidates usually come to you via referral anyway, so skip all of that if you can and ask around, making the most out of any and all resources at your disposal in your community and local region.

Keep in mind that skills are nice, but attitude is everything—While making sure that your perfect candidate has all the requisite knowledge, skills and abilities is important, sometimes it’s the less tangible assets that make for a great hire. For instance, when it comes to small businesses in particular, it’s important to be flexible. After all, things can and do change on a dime, and there are fewer resources and staff available to get the job done and fix problems than in bigger companies. The small business environment requires a “no job is too small” attitude, that’s for sure. Additionally, independence and self-motivation are critical. Any micro- or other small business owner knows that firsthand! Perhaps most importantly, having some degree of chemistry with another person when you’re going to be working so closely with one another does matter. At the same time it’s also critical to recognize that chemistry can only take you so far. In other words, liking someone is not enough in and of itself to warrant hiring that person, but it sure helps.

Look for the appropriate cultural fit—You’ve heard the term “corporate culture”? Well, there’s a culture that goes along with working in a small business environment too, and it’s every bit as pronounced, if not more so…especially if the small business in question is headquartered from your home office. Be up front and clear about the work environment that goes along with the job, and make sure to set aside appropriate work space with clear boundaries between the personal and professional, including bathroom facilities. It’s important that there are no surprises.

Don’t just take someone’s word for anything—Ask for references and then follow up on them. Conduct a simple background check, especially if you’re going to be letting a new employee into your home. You may even want to go so far as to require testing for illegal substances or screening for behavioral problems. Unfortunately, in this day and age, you can’t be too careful. The good news? Most prospective employees understand that.

For more information on how you can start the hiring process for your first employee and ensure you are compliant with key federal and state regulations, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) recommends following eight important steps to get started.