I was the only member of my team for a long while. And, honestly, there were parts of going it alone that I really loved. I loved the creative freedom. I loved making all of the decisions. I just generally loved having complete control over my business.
But eventually, I realized I couldn’t do it all on my own—not if I wanted my business to grow. And not if I ever wanted to spend time with and focus my energy on my family or my friends or myself.
The idea of adding someone new to my business was, at once, exciting and overwhelming. I wasn’t sure where to start, and I was nervous about giving someone else control over my “baby”.
There’s no doubt it can be hard to hand over the reins to your business. After all, who knows and loves it as well as you? Well, if you build your team the right way, I guarantee you’ll surround yourself with quality employees who want your “baby” to succeed (almost) as much as you do!
If you’re ready to hire your first employee, there’s a few simple steps you’ll want to consider to make sure you add the perfect person to your team.
Outline Your Vision
What’s your vision for your company? Write that down. (And if you already have one, revisit it.)
This is easier than it seems. It doesn’t need to be grandiose—though it’s also fine if it is. But there’s no need to overcomplicate it or pepper your vision with buzzwords. Make it authentic and true to where you see your business growing. Act as if you were writing a diary entry to yourself—where do you see your company in a year? In five? Dream big, and envision everything that needs to happen in order for this business to be the success that you know it can be.
This is an important exercise in any stage of your business, but it’s especially important before you begin bringing on additional team members. The people who make up your team should understand and align with your vision for the company—it will be just as much their responsibility as yours to see that vision through. And if it’s a vision that they’re excited about, can get behind and support, it’s that much more likely that you’ll have found a perfect new member of your team.
Identify Your Needs
Where are you dropping the ball in your business? What are the activities that you’re not very good at (accounting comes to mind for me)? I’m not trying to call you out or force you to look at your weaknesses—I want you to see where you need help the most. Where should you be delegating your work, so that you can focus on the work that you’re best at—and on building and growing your business? In The Conquer Kit, entrepreneur Natalie MacNeil advises that if a potential employee can do a task 70% (or more) as well as you can, then you need to delegate it.
These are the things you need to consider before you hire your first employee, because the answers will dictate exactly what you need to be hiring for, and who will best fill that role. It may be helpful to start by taking a look at all of the work you do in your business on a weekly basis. Where do you most need support right now?
If you’re not in a position to hire for every job you’d like to delegate, that’s understandable, too—start with the job that will make the biggest difference to you and to your company. What will take the most off of your plate and significantly contribute to the growth of your business in a short period of time? The faster the company grows, the faster you’ll be able to hire even more team members!
Consider Your Culture
In his book, Scary Close, my friend and author, Donald Miller, talks about his own decision to build a team after a mostly solitary career as a writer. He says:
“Our company would exist to help its employees’ dreams come true, to challenge each other within community in order to better our character, and to do this by serving our clients with excellence . . . We believed we had the power to make one another’s professional dreams come true. We believed the work we did affected more than just our clients, but each other. We believed in grace over guilt and we believed anybody could become great if they were challenged within the context of a community. Suddenly we were more than a company, we were a new and better culture. Our business had become a fund-raising front for a makeshift family.”
I know I want a company culture like Don’s; perhaps you envision something different. Regardless, your company culture is vital—it will make or break your company, because it will both be determined by the people you hire and it will determine whether you hold on to the people you hire.
What sort of culture do you want to cultivate at your company? Go back to your vision, and outline the team culture that would best contribute to that vision. Imagine your office environment, imagine interactions between team members, imagine what your employees would say about you (and your business) in a review.
Do you want to build a fundraising front for a makeshift family? Or do you want to run a less personal operation, where people come to work only to do their jobs, and connect on a deeper level at home? Perhaps something in the middle? You get to decide—but it’s important that you do so before you hire your first employee.
Find the People Who Are Better Than You
You know what you’re great at. You know what you’re not so great at—you should know this well after deciding which tasks you need to delegate. Now it’s important to find the people who can fill in where you’re weak.
Your time is better spent running and growing your company, and focusing on exactly those tasks that you do best. Now is not the time to feel threatened by someone who may be smarter or cleverer or more educated than you—in fact, you are looking for the people who do the jobs you can’t do (or don’t want to do) much, much better than you. Simple as that.
Whatever you do, do NOT hire someone who is a carbon copy of you—you already have a you! Look for the people who can step up where you fall short.
Design the Hiring Experience
I believe in the power of design—from well-designed wallpaper to designing your day and, ultimately, your life. And I think you should bring that same preparation and intentionality to your hiring process.
Before you seek out your first employee, design what you want the hiring process to look like from start to finish. What do you want it to look and feel like for your potential future employees? For you? What are the questions that will best help you suss out the ideal team member? What are you looking for in the first person to join you on this very personal and professional journey?
Remember to consider your vision for your company and the culture you want to create throughout the process. It doesn’t start when you’ve hired the first member of your team—it starts right now, with every single candidate you meet.
Be specific about these details and outline this process before the hunt begins. I promise you—and your future team member—will be glad you did. And you’ll be that much more likely to find someone who is the perfect fit for your team!
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In his book, The School of Greatness, Lewis Howes underscores the value of surrounding yourself with a great team: “People matter. And you can’t achieve anything great on your own.”
Hiring your first team member is an important moment in your business. If you’re anything like me, your business is your baby—so hiring your first team member should be like adding someone to your family. In other words, it’s no small task, but it’s reason to celebrate, too. I hope my advice acts as a helpful guide that makes the process less overwhelming, and more exciting as you grow.
Where do you need help in your business?
What’s the first position you would fill on your team?
Let us know in the comments below!