Hiring your first employee

I attended a conference recently and ended up talking to the founder of a fairly successful tech start up company.  I say fairly successful,  because while the technology had experienced great success, the expected returns just weren’t where he thought they would be a year in. He and his business partner had teamed up shortly after graduation from university. He was looking after marketing and sales while his partner was the software developer. They had recently turned down a contract with an international client because they knew they were at max capacity. When I asked if they could hire help he said he just wouldn’t trust anyone else,  plus they couldn’t afford it. We spent the next 20 minutes “challenging” this strategy (or lack of strategy) and he now has part time administrative support and a Customer Experience Manager. They were able to go back to that client and are currently negotiating a deal which has the potential to cover the cost of the two hires.

As an entrepreneur, it can be tough to give up control. I get it. This is your baby, your passion. But guess what? We even give up control when it comes to our actual children because that is what is best for them. We get help from friends and family, we send them off to daycare and school, we even allow other parents to coach them in hockey and gymnastics. If we can trust others with our actual children, then why not trust others with our business? Why not involve every resource possible to nurture the growth and development of our business?


Here are 5 signs that you need to hire help:

  1. Not Enough Hours in the Day

Part of entrepreneurship is the dedication. You don’t mind working 20 hours a day because this is what you love. But what happens when you are working that much and you still can’t meet deadlines or accomplish your goals. There comes a time when it doesn’t matter how much you work if you are not being effective.

  1. Surviving, Not Thriving

Maybe you are reaching your goals, but you are just barely keeping your head above water. Current customers are satisfied, but are they thrilled? Could you have more market share if you had more time? Calculate the ROI. What would an extra 8 hours a day mean to you? To the growth and prosperity of your business?

  1. Turning Down Work

That dreaded day comes when you talk to a customer and realize you do not have the ability or the capacity to help them. You refer them elsewhere, turn them away, or worse, take the contract and fail miserably. It’s not to say you should never turn down work (sometimes it’s just not a fit) but if it could have been avoided, it could have been a big win.

  1. Drowning in Admin

Unless you are an Accountant, I suspect you did not start your business so you could manage expenses, invoice customers, and pay bills. As much as you try to automate (and there are some great systems out there), there will always be administrative work. Why are you looking at receipts when you could be talking to a customer?

  1. Relationships

I left this one for last as I believe it is the most important. Do not sacrifice your relationships – business partners, spouse, partner, friends and family – for your need to control every aspect of your business. If you need to spend your time elsewhere, it’s ok. The ship won’t sink without you.

As a final note, you can really get creative when hiring help. It doesn’t need to be a full time permanent employee. It can be part time, casual, temporary, consultant, or an independent contractor. Obtain advice from a human resource consultant as to the hiring strategy that will work for your business and what you need to know before hiring an employee.

Sarah Mullins is the founder of uptreeHR, a Halifax based human resource consulting firm that is passionate about helping business owners manage their people, set clear expectations and increase performance. We truly believe you can treat your employees well, create an amazing culture and not break the bank.

To book a complimentary 30 minute consult with Sarah, click here.

Sarah Mullins, CPHR
Principle Consultant


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