5 Signs it’s Time to Hire Your First Employee

Businessman interviewing female job applicant in office

From the moment you opened your business, you hoped (or maybe even half-dreaded), but always knew that the day would come when you would have to hire employees. What you might not have predicted, is that it’s not always that easy to know when the time is right.

Hiring is a huge step, and a risky one. Do it at the wrong time, or for the wrong reasons, and it could break your business. In fact, simply being busy isn’t a strong enough reason to start interviewing candidates.

So how do you know when it’s time to scale up from your one-person operation to a plus 2? Here are five signs it’s time to hire, identified by successful small business owners in the Boston area.

You’re maintaining your business, but not growing it.

If you find yourself wishing you had more time to focus on building your business, rather than simply maintaining the business you already have, it’s a good indication that you need to hire help. While balancing your budget and making deliveries are vital to your business, if performing these tasks is preventing you from networking or making sales calls, it’s not the best use of your time.

Your clients miss you.

When your clients comment that they don’t see you as much as they used to, or more importantly, want to, it’s up to you to bring the focus back to them. If you don’t, all the work you put into building those relationships will go out the window, and your clients will walk out the door. Cloning yourself isn’t an option, but hiring an additional account manager or salesperson to take on new clients, and help you manage your existing ones, is the next best thing.

You’re turning down work.

You’re only one person and, at some point, if all goes as planned, you will reach full capacity. Unless you can add more hours to the day or grow an extra set of hands, you simply won’t be able to take on new clients or work without help. If you’re turning down jobs, or find that you are no longer able to follow up on sales leads and they are falling through the cracks, it’s probably time to hire that extra set of hands.

You need specialized skills.

You decided to start a business because there was something you were really passionate about, and probably quite good at, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you are a jack-of-all-trades. In fact, the most successful business owners know their weaknesses and surround themselves with others who excel in those areas. If your business has a need outside your skill set, don’t be afraid to hire someone who specializes in it.

You have enough work to hand-off.

If you find there’s more work than you can physically do on your own, or that the quality of your work is suffering because you’re overextended, it may be time to hire help. But before you do, make sure there’s enough work for the foreseeable future. Obviously, no one has a crystal ball, but if you have several contracts ending in a few months, it may be just a matter of being busy right now. Another exercise to help you determine if there’s enough work to warrant a hire is to write out a complete job description. This will give you a good sense of what your employee’s workweek will look like.

To Hire or Not to Hire?

While adding an employee is a big commitment, failing to do so can actually hurt your business and prevent you from growing. As long as you take a moment to step back and evaluate your workload and needs every few months, you’ll have a better sense of when the time is right to hire.

Wondering how to tell if it’s time to move out of your home office? Check out these 5 Signs that Your Home Office has Stopped Working for You.

Considering a freelancer as a strategy to expand your business’ bandwidth? We weigh the options of freelancing vs. hiring an employee here.