Hiring Your First Employee

For a new small business owner, the first hire is normally the scariest. Not only does hiring somebody require a load of paperwork, but bringing someone else into a company that you’ve built and run all by yourself can be a very disconcerting experience. You have to give up some control of the business, and implicitly trust this person with the responsibility you give them. There is already plenty of advice online on what you need to fill out and file with the government, so I won’t go into the legal logistics of getting ready to hire someone, but I will give you some advice on what you can do to calm the jitters that come with hiring your first employee.

Woman help wanted sign

Don’t be swayed by big business credentials

If you’ve never hired anyone before, a lot of your apprehension might stem from the fact that you don’t have a great idea of what to look for in a potential employee. Having someone apply that has experience with a major corporation may look great on paper – they would, after all, be able to bring their knowledge of the inner workings of a highly successful business to your start-up. However, working for a huge company is very different than working in a much smaller, more hands-off environment. You won’t have the time to micromanage this person, and if that is the only way they know how to work, they aren’t going to be a great employee. Instead, look for somebody that has experience working outside of a set by-the-book rules based corporation; it is much more likely that they’ll be a better fit for your business.

Check their references and their background

According to a study done by the Society of Human Resource Managers, 53% of all resumes have falsifications, and 46% of reference checks found discrepancies between what the application wrote and what the reference reported. You cannot just ‘go with your gut’ when you are looking for your first employee. Even if they seem like the nicest, friendliest person in the world, you still need to call their references and perform a background check. Otherwise, you are going to have a little voice of doubt at the back of your mind, constantly nagging you about not checking out this person’s background.

Use a Nondisclosure Agreement

For some industries, a nondisclosure agreement is sort of overkill. If you run a vintage clothing store on Etsy and are hiring someone to help you pack up and ship orders, you don’t need to hit them with an NDA – there aren’t any really sensitive trade secrets in that sort of business. However, if you run a tech company built on your idea or invention, or an advisory firm that has a particular method for identifying and recommending policy for clients, don’t be afraid to ask any potential hire to sign a nondisclosure agreement. Not only will this help protect your business, but it will ensure that whomever you hire completely understands what sort of secrecy is expected from them.

The experience of hiring your first employee tends to be one that mixes excitement and trepidation. There is definitely an art to choosing the best person for a job, and if this is the first time you’ve ever hired someone, it could feel like you’re trying to finger-paint your way into the Louvre. Feed off of that apprehension, and use it to scrutinize the credentials and background of any potential hire. And, if needed, swear them to confidentiality with a nondisclosure agreement. Confidence in your decision on who to hire will help you avoid any sort of employer’s remorse.

About the Author:

Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com. MyCorporation is a leader in online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, providing start-up bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent, DBA, and trademark & copyright filing services. MyCorporation does all the work, making the business formation and maintenance quick and painless, so business owners can focus on what they do best. Follow her on Google+ and on Twitter @deborahsweeney and @mycorporation.


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