How do you go from small to big, or if not big, then at least bigger?
That question vexes many a small business person. Is it a matter of simply executing a good plan? Yes, but it’s more than that. Is it having a great idea? Partially. A better mousetrap? Maybe, sometimes.
But really, it is more than that, and simpler.
For any business to scale and get bigger, the journey begins with a single employee. Indeed, if you are going to grow, you need help, period. A great team is what creates a great business.
Here’s how to effectively hire that first person:
1. Plan: Probably the hardest part for solopreneurs is giving up control. Often it is not that they don't want to share the power, but rather, they just don’t know how. Figuring out what to let go of is a challenge.
The secret is to sit down, make a list of those things that you do which mustbe done by you (client acquisition for instance) and which things can and should be done by someone else (sales for example.) Then make a list of what the new person will do.
Then figure out how much you can pay the person, what their hours will be, where and how they will work, and what all of their other duties will be. Create a written job description.
2. Cast your net: Let your network know you are looking to hire and post the job description on job sites and even local colleges. This will ensure that you get a wide variety of applicants.
3. Sort: Of course, you want someone with experience and smarts, but think outside the box a bit too. What elseis important to you? Is it skills, personality, connections or what? Pick people to interview who seem great, but who also may intrigue you just because.
4. Interview: Look for people who have the skills, smarts, background and experience, and with whom you connect. Ask yourself: Would I like to spend 8 hours a day with them?
5. Make it legal: Make sure you have an Employer Identification Number from the IRS. All employers must have one.
Next, have your attorney draft an employment contract. Be sure your contract states that the employee is “at-will” – meaning they can be fired at any time for any legal reason – so that there is no implied long-term promise of employment.
You also need to set up payroll. Will you do it by hand (the least expensive) or hire a service (the easiest)? How often will you pay them? Also, check with your state labor commission to see what posters you are legally required to hang.
6. Fill out the forms: There are plenty of forms you and your new employee must submit:
- Federal law says you must report new employees within 20 days of hiring them. State laws might be shorter.
- Each employee must fill out Form W-4.
- If you work in a state with income tax, they need to also fill out a form for state tax withholding.
- Also, have them fill out a Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, certifying they are legally eligible to work in the United Sates.
Good luck, it is a lot of work, but it should be worth it.
About Steve Strauss
Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can also listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success.© Steven D. Strauss
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