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When is the right time to hire?

Pushing your business forward can come in various forms, depending on your industry. This could be moving to a larger premises to help increase capacity or storage, moving to a hot location to enable more trade, or recruiting.

Recruiting can be a bit of an odd time in the business life, especially when its your first employee. Youve worked hard to develop your idea from the ground up and youve potentially reached the time to grow your business further by employing someone.

It can be exciting - youll have someone new in your business, fresh ideas and a different skill set. But at the same time, it can be a nervous time - are you ready to share your business? What if youre not a good manager? What if they quit?

Finding the right time to hire, not just your first employee but any employee, can be tricky to balance - hiring early could introduce cash flow and stress problems within the business, whereas hiring late could mean you miss a crucial project or deadline, or even flood yourself with work and the added stress.

So, when is the right time?

As with most things in business, there is no definitive answer here. It comes down to you, the business, its cashflow and others. Although there are some pointers to consider which may help you make the right decision.

You dont know what role youre filling

Often youll have a challenge presented to you in business, such as fulfilling a large order or meeting a tight deadline, and often the thought of having an extra pair of hands will cross your mind. But if youre not sure what you want them to do exactly, it may be a better idea to not hire anyone at all.

Take a business who has successfully taken on a new order with the idea to hit a tight deadline (well done if this does happen). But if you were to hire someone, what part would they play in this? If youre thinking that they can help where needed - design, packing, delivery for example - what job role does this fill? Its likely that it doesnt any particular role as the scope of the job is too broad.

You need to define the job and their responsibilities or youll both end up not knowing who is doing what. Rather than hiring an employee, talk to your business mentor or coach and see what they can suggest. Chances are, theyve been in this situation previously and can help.

You hire quickly and ineffectively

You may need that help as soon as possible, which is a common scenario; but this doesnt mean you should rush through the recruitment process. By hiring quickly you can often end up with the wrong person being employed and this doesnt work for either the business nor the candidate.

Stressed man with head on desk
Hiring the wrong candidate could cause further stress

Even if youre in a rush, consider asking a recruitment specialist to arrange the process for you and help take the strain off you and the business itself.

Focus on what the candidate will do

Thinking I need help is a good starting point to know when to hire, but this wont help find the perfect candidate. Try pinpointing what you would expect of them - instead of thinking I need a graphic designer, think more along the lines of:

I need a graphic design with 5 years experience, qualifications in a graphics related college course, experience with Adobe InDesign and Illustrator and a portfolio of work

You may think this is too specific, and in some cases it will be. But youre setting the standard - you know what you want. You may find someone with all of the above but only 2 years experience, but this gives you a checklist for your candidates and help recruit wisely.

Pair of glasses on paperwork
Write down the tasks to help try and define a role

What about other solutions?

You may find that recruiting may not be the best way forward. What if your work is seasonal, or fluctuates a lot? What if you only have a mass amount of work now but nothing guaranteed after it? You may find that contracting the work is a good way forward.

With a contractor, youre often more flexible with the arrangements in place, from the work they do to the length of the time they work with you. It can give you a good opportunity to test the water and find out exactly what an employee could be doing for you. In many cases, it can also often save paperwork.

Where next?

Well end with how we started - theres no fast and hard rules on who to employ and when; it comes down to you and your business. If youre unsure, a recruitment consultant or business coach will often offer you some advice to make sure youre taking the right path.

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