So, you’re ready to hire your first ever employee. Congratulations! For many burgeoning business owners, hiring your first ever employee is a milestone moment; your company is thriving and you’re scaling with it. However, that’s not to say that it’s not also incredible daunting. Where do you begin? Who do you hire? Here are a few things you’ll want to look for before you get potentials to sign on the dotted line:
Someone who shares your passion
After founding Floom – an online bouquet delivery platform being touted as the Deliveroo of floristry – in March last year, Lana Elie found herself in a similar quandary.
“[I was looking for] someone who wasn’t going to be too precious about their title,” says Lana, who came up with the concept behind the London-based delivery service after feeling uninspired by the many bouquets she sent as part of her job as an executive PA for Burberry. “When you’re a small and new company, everything needs doing. I wanted someone who felt as excited as I did about the prospect of launching, and growing.”
Don’t get hung up on qualifications
You’re going to go from being a one-man band to a team and the success of your start-up hinges on the quality of your working relationship. What’s more, your first employee is the initial step towards creating a company culture, so try to focus on how well you think you’ll work together as opposed to their education level.
“I got where I was in my career because people gave me a chance,” says Lana, who was Head of Brand Solutions at Vice’s fashion wing i-D before founding Floom. “They saw I valued the work I did, and that I took it seriously. As someone who never got the opportunity to go to university, I’d feel hypocritical to have those requirements of someone else.”
Do they share your values?
As well as being personable, your prospective employee will ideally come armed with experience, solid organisational skills and similar work ethic to yours.
“It was less about their credentials and more about how proactive and organised they were,” says Lana, who now employs six people. “I now feel I have a good instinct for hard workers and people who may not come with the answers immediately but will find ways of figuring it out. Every person on the team believes in the company and its ultimate success, that’s important to get you through the low days.”
As you’re probably already aware, writing a job description for your first ever employee is an almost impossible task as your requirements for them are likely to vary wildly from day-to-day. However, what you do need is someone who appreciates that fact and is able to deftly hop from one task to another.
“When I started, everything needed support,” Lana admits, noting that it’s now much easier to hire as she’s recruiting for more specific roles. “[Initially], no two days were the same, which still feels like the case event though there are now six of us! The beauty of being small is you can be reactive, you can test and change, and I think that’s important to our growth.”
Can you learn from them?
Finally, Lana advises small business owners to hire someone whose skillset compliments your own as opposed to sharing the same strengths and weaknesses. “Look for someone who you think is smarter than you,” she concludes. “When it’s just the two of you working all hours of the day, you’ll want someone who you feel like you’re learning from.”