The Small Business Owner’s Guide to Hiring Your First Employees

hiring for small businessHow to add staff to support your growing small business – from choosing part-time vs full-time, staff training and providing benefits

There are more than 22 million small businesses in the U.S. without any employees on the payroll, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Many start off as a single owner business without any staff. But as businesses grow you’ll eventually need to bring on additional staff to keep growing.

Hiring your first employees can be a daunting task… identifying your staffing needs, getting them up to speed and providing them benefits. There are a lot of things to think about.

If you’re ready to start hiring for your small business, we’ve got some tips and guidance to light the way.

Do You Really Need to Hire Full-Time Staff?

Decide whether you need a full time employee or if the position could be outsourced or filled by a contractor. If you’re unclear how the role might work in your company, consider outsourcing it or filling it with a contractor or temp-to-hire. This gives you an opportunity to try things out and make adjustments to the job description. If you fill the role with a temp-to-hire or contractor, you may decide to keep the person in that role anyway.

The On-Boarding Process

Have a separate work space for each employee, and make sure there’s enough room to personalize the space a bit. It’s their world for several hours every day, and the more comfortable it is, the more productive the employee will be.

Even the smallest business should have a process in place to train a new employee the first day. It could be just getting accustomed to the facilities, equipment and people. This “settling in” period helps a new person ease into unfamiliar surroundings. When interviewing a person to hire, they may ask you about your process for bringing new people up to speed. If you have an organized training process, you’ll look more professional to those you interview.

Take Care of Your Team

There will be things you can afford to do and things you can’t, but always communicate with employees so they know you’re doing your best. A few benefits to consider include:

  • Health insurance. This is the most expensive of employee benefits to provide, but it’s a big factor in employee job satisfaction and high retention rates. Work with an insurance agent to see what options are available.
  • Legal and liability insurance. At first glance this may appear to be strictly for your benefit, but it isn’t. Accidents happen and employees make mistakes, which can result in a lawsuit against your business or its employees. Provide a comfortable work environment in which employees know they are protected from legal action with adequate business insurance.
  • Flexible hours. This is another big factor in high job satisfaction and lowered turn-over rates. If possible, give your employees more control over their schedule.
  • Telecommuting. The opportunity to work from home periodically can be a big motivation to employees. Make sure your management style and expectations work with having remote staff.
  • Bring-your-own-device (BYOD). Many people prefer to use their own tools to do their jobs. You’ll need to have controls in place to manage a BYOD environment so your intellectual capital is safe.

Provide Growth Potential

Talented people want the opportunity to learn and grow. Find ways to provide them additional training and have a defined career path for them. There may not be many titles you can offer if you are very small, so find ways to give staff more responsibilities and independence as they grow.

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With nearly 30 years of integrated marketing experience, Diane is the founder of and author of the award-winning book PR Tools to Toot Your Own Horn. Diane also runs Marine Marketing Tools, a site that bridges her passion for boating and small business marketing, and two boating lifestyle sites: and