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What Entrepreneurs Should Know About Hiring Their First Employee


As an entrepreneur, when you’re heading a startup in the early days, you are likely a team of one. According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), there is double the number of entrepreneurs with no employees as compared to entrepreneurs who have employees.

However, there will be a time that you’ll need to hire at least one employee in most cases. That time may be now, or you may be planning for the future.

It’s mentally difficult to think about giving up control of your business, which can feel like your baby. You want to ensure you make the right decision, so how can you go about doing that?

The following are some things to know about hiring your first employee.

The Background Check.

First, are the technicalities of hiring an employee. It’s a good idea to do a comprehensive background check on possible candidates. This is important with any employee, but especially if it’s going to be your first.

Your first employee is likely to become as important to your operations as you are down the road, and you want to hire someone who’s trustworthy and has the credentials they claim to have.

Some things a comprehensive background check may look at include:

  • Does the candidate have a criminal record not only in the U.S. but abroad?
  • Are there any civil issues or bankruptcies that could impact the business if this person is hired?
  • What do people who have worked with the candidate professionally say about their integrity and quality of work?
  • Is there anything online relating to the reputation of the candidate that could be problematic for the company?
  • Has the person received the educational credentials they claim to have?
  • Have there ever been any disciplinary actions against the candidate with regard to professional licenses or organizations?

Cultural Fit.

If you’re hiring your first employee, then the cultural fit you need to think about is the one that happens with you. If you’re hiring a new employee and you already have a few team members onboard, you’ll have to think about the chemistry a new potential candidate has with those existing employees.

A lot of entrepreneurs underestimate the importance of cultural fit.

If you introduce someone into your business that’s not a good fit, or even worse is toxic to your culture, it’s going to impede on every other part of the business.

Make Sure You’re Ready for an Actual Employee.

With today’s remote work and gig-centric economy, if you’re an entrepreneur and you know you need help, you might not necessarily need a full-time employee.

You need to evaluate your situation and ensure that a full-time employee is right for the role you want to fill.

Hiring contractors can be a better option when you’re just starting to bring people on board because it gives both of you more freedom and flexibility.

A New Employee Needs to Be the Best At What They Do.

If you’re an entrepreneur and your business is still in its early stages, you need to bring people onboard that are better than you at something, and hopefully faster as well.

You can’t afford to have people with redundancies in terms of their skillset or perhaps someone who can’t do a better job than you.

Any new employee you hire needs to have a core focus area where they’re the best, and they need to bring a unique set of skills that you don’t have yourself.

You Can Look at Potential Rather Than Just Past Success.

A lot of great young talent is out there, and they could become your businesses’ secret weapon, but you have tobe willing to take a chance.

Hiring for potential can sometimes give you a huge competitive advantage, instead of just looking at past successes and track record.

If you’re worried about hiring based on potential, you can always do a trial or give candidates a specific project to work on and see how they do.

By giving candidates a project or trial period, you can go beyond how they answer their interview questions and their resume and get a feel for how they apply their skills. This may also give you more of an opportunity to determine how good of a cultural fit they are.

Finally, when you’re preparing to hire your first employee, you need to know what you can and can’t ask, and how to legally conduct interviews. Give yourself time to know how to conduct interviews lawfully but also in a way that will give you the information you need about a candidate.