Tuesday, May 22, 2012

8 tips on doing your due diligence before hiring your first employee

This is the final installment in a series about the steps small business owners need to take before hiring their first employee.

If you’ve already taken a hard look at your business and determined the right time to hire your first employee as well as figured the value your time, you’ve done the heavy lifting.

"For a sole proprietor or someone who has a boutique, there's really not a lot invested in bringing in that first person,” Bill Horton, a small business coach at BizFix and educator for Mercy Corps NW, says. "They can usually find somebody from a referral from their friends, or maybe they're using Craigslist or LinkedIn to put out a post with a very brief job description."

Horton believes the initial time investment of finding that first employee “is really minimal” compared to the emotional consideration of categorizing what tasks can be done by an employee and then handing over the reins. “The hardest thing for them [business owners] to decide is what do they need—what's the actual job description for bringing a new employee in; what's that other person going to do," he says.

And how are you, the business owner, going to let someone else sit in the driver’s seat—at least as far as some designated tasks are concerned.

The rest is simply a checklist of legal and technical requirements, and Neighborhood Notes has compiled a list which will provide you with all of the resources you need to comfortably and lawfully hire your first employee.


  1. Write a specific job description. Before you can think about searching for the perfect employee that has all the right skills, you need to clearly define on paper what skills you are seeking. This will help you set expectations for your new hire while allowing you to relinquish control of certain aspects of your businesses. More on writing effective job descriptions here.

  2. Next, write an effective employment agreement. You’ll likely need consult a lawyer to define the exact areas that relate to your business and industry, but here’s an example of a basic agreement as well as some tips on writing an employee handbook.

Get six more tips and some final advice on hiring your first employee on Neighborhood Notes.

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