It's time to hire your first employee, and that's exciting. 🎉
But with that excitement can come some first-hire jitters, especially if you don’t have any hiring or HR experience. And what about standing out amongst more well-known businesses whose reputations precede them?
Hiring your first employee indeed takes careful planning, preparation and execution – and we’ve got the hiring playbook to get you there.
We'll share the three most common questions startup and small business owners ask themselves before hiring their first employee and insights from those who've been there before – including our very own Thomas Moes (co-founder of Homerun). We'll also share the steps you need to follow and practical tips to help you hire with ease.
Table of Contents
- <a href="#3-questions">3 key questions (with answers) about hiring your first employee</a>
- <a href="#10-steps">10 steps to hiring your first employee</a>
- <a href="#Choosing">Choosing the right moment to hire</a>
<div id="3-questions">3 key questions (with answers) about hiring your first employee</div>
If you're the owner of a startup or small business, you're going to encounter a lot of firsts. One of those will be finding and hiring your first team member!
Before you start hiring, ask yourself these three questions to get yourself set up for success.
Question #1: How do I know when to hire my first employee?
There are some obvious circumstances that indicate it's time for you to hire your first team member. Homerun's co-founder Thomas shares that you might find yourself:
- Overwhelmed by the amount of work you have
- Annoyed with the type of work you’re doing
- Unable to keep up with the demands of the business
- In over your head lacking expertise in specific areas
If you’re in one or more of these situations, he says, “That might be the right time to hire your first employee.” Bottom line: If you’re consistently busy and you have to turn some clients away then it’s time to reevaluate your current setup.
Of course, you must be financially ready (so hiring may depend on your business's cash flow💰) and you should already have a business strategy in place. Having a well-defined strategy will help you identify the exact skills and expertise you need in your first employee and keep you on track.
Finally, you have to be prepared to search for, interview, hire, onboard and manage your new team member.
📣 If you’re looking for resources, Homerun has everything you need to help you get started with hiring.
Question #2: What do I need to know before hiring my first employee?
Hiring your first employee requires careful planning and prep to ensure that you find the right person for the job and that you're complying with local laws and regulations.
There are understandably a lot of important logistics that go into hiring. First, you need to understand the cost of hiring beyond the employee's salary, such as payroll taxes, benefits and insurance.
This is where things can get tricky and why we recommend speaking to the right people (HR and legal experts) to figure out your responsibilities as an employer.
If you decide you want to hire someone to work with you remotely, you'll still need to ensure you're complying with the employee's local labor and tax laws. For remote and hybrid teams, a service like Remote is a good solution for compliance. (For example, we’re based in the Netherlands and they handle payroll and benefits for our remote team members in Spain and the UK.)
Hiring admin stuff aside, there are some important things you need to determine before you look for a new team member – like who is best equipped (and motivated) to do what.
In the beginning, Homerun's co-founders Thomas and Willem did all of the marketing and design while our third co-founder, Bob, was in charge of tech and finances. And together they all did customer support.
Thomas shares his two cents 🪙 🪙 on this: “When you’re starting out, it can be good for you and your co-founders to try most of the work yourself. I actually started doing the admin and taxes simply because I raised my hand when assigning tasks. However, we pretty quickly found out that I was horrible at it (forgetting to pay invoices and stuff), so Bob took over since it comes easy to him, and he’s been doing a great job ever since!
When you try doing different things, this helps you find out:
- What you’re good at
- What you like doing
- What you’re bad at
- What you don’t like doing
It also gives you a more in-depth understanding of the work to be done. This helps you with the hiring process; because you know better what to look for in your first hire.”
Even if you’re currently a team of just one, two or three, you need to consider what your company culture is like (or what you aspire for it to be) and the type of person that would enjoy working with your team. Think about the values and work ethic that are important to your company and prepare yourself to look for candidates who share those.
Question #3: What do you need to hire your first employee?
To hire your first employee with success and ease, you need a plan of action and the right tools to execute it. Thankfully Thomas came up with a plan that you can totally copy and use. 🙌
Simple and straightforward, right? We can't stress enough how important it is to have a great-looking job post and a memorable career page because it helps you to stand out in a sea of startups and other established well-known companies.
Here's one part of a sleek and informative job post from one of our customers, Verve, complete with photos of their cool workspace.
Hiring tips like these and the right tools can help you get ahead in the game. You can use one of Homerun's hiring templates to easily create a great-looking job post with your company logo, build a stellar career page, put together job application forms, track applicants, schedule interviews and more all in one place.
<div id="10-steps">10 steps to hiring your first employee</div>
When hiring your first employee, of course you want to get everything right and knock it out of the park. ⚾️ But first you need to make sure you've covered all the bases.
Here are 10 steps you can take to get set up, find and hire your first employee:
- Register with the correct government agencies. (This is where the experts come in!👆) For example, if you're in the U.S., you'll need to find out whether you need a state or local tax ID, also known as an Employer Identification Number (EIN), to set up payroll taxes and comply with other legal requirements. If you're in Europe (like us), it will entirely depend on what country you’re in and whether you’re a member state in the European Union. No matter where you are, be sure you’re properly registered.
- Set up payroll. Choose an in-house or external service for paying your employee. Depending on their status (contractor, full-time, part-time, fractional) and location, you may need to calculate and withhold taxes and/or set up direct deposit. You always need to make sure you're keeping accurate records.
- Create an employee handbook. An employee handbook will outline your company's policies and procedures and will help ensure that your new team member is aware of the expectations and guidelines for working at your company. Include how you track time off for vacation days, sick days and other types of leave. (We use an HR tool called Humaans for that.)
- Establish your benefits package. If you plan to provide benefits such as mental healthcare support, a learning budget or a 4-day work week, you’ll need to set those up and ensure that your new team member is enrolled. Your benefits should be a reflection of what your team values and cares about.
- Create a job description. If you've answered the three questions above about hiring your first employee and followed Thomas’ recommendations, you've essentially got your job brief. Now that you have a clear idea of what you need, you can create a clear and engaging job description that outlines the responsibilities, skills and qualifications required for the role. Learning how to write a job description that attracts talent helps you save time and find qualified candidates, as does using one of our many job description templates.
- Nail your job post. If you want to stand out, you need to get creative with your job post. Add some fun, authentic photos of the current team and your office (if you work together in person), a Spotify playlist of your favorite tunes to work to, or a video of you describing the role. You can hit the ground running by using one of our beautifully-designed job post templates that you can customize and publish in minutes. Once you’ve nailed the job post, you and your network should share it in all the right places – on LinkedIn, in Slack communities, select job boards, etc.
- Review applications. As applications start coming in, you’ll review them carefully to pick out the most qualified candidates whose values are aligned with yours. Wondering how to get that information? Simply include the right questions in your application form to find out.
- Conduct screenings and interviews. In-person and online interviews are great opportunities to get to know candidates better, ask more detailed questions and assess personality and skills. We recommend using the collaborative hiring method and letting candidates talk to your fellow co-founder(s) in interviews. This helps to manage candidate expectations, reduce hiring bias and aids in your decision-making process.
- Make an offer. Once you’ve found the candidate you want to hire, you can make an offer that includes salary, benefits and other important details. Be sure to communicate clearly (we put it in writing) and that all terms of the offer are understood.
- Onboard your new team member! Once the offer is accepted, it’s time to onboard the new employee. Provide any necessary training, go over the expectations for their role and get them started on new projects. Being available to answer questions and meeting with other team members is important to ensure they are set up for success.
<div id="Choosing">Choosing the right moment to hire</div>
If there are areas that you lack the time or expertise to tackle effectively, you’re going to need someone with a certain skill set or vision in order to move your business forward. Making the decision to hire someone is a key step.
Hiring your first employee doesn’t have to be complicated. Start by reflecting on your current and future business needs and how the new hire will fit into those long-term plans. Follow the playbook (which includes the most important steps of the hiring process) and you'll be on your way to hiring an incredible teammate who will help your business grow and thrive!