Part 1: Hiring Your First Employee
In the eternal words of David Bowie: Every time I thought I’d got it made, it seemed the taste was not so sweet.
I’ve always associated the month of September with transitions—with changes. I think many people do. September marks a change in seasons. In parts of North America, it also traditionally marks a change in schools and in grade levels. Change is in the air this time of year. And if you’re a start-up operation, trust me when I tell you that your autumn is coming . . . if it hasn’t already!
When you’re in business for yourself, the smallest transitions can seem huge.
Over the next three blog posts, I’m going to talk about transitions in business. Today, I want to talk about how to prepare for one of the first (and most difficult) transitions experienced by all successful business owners: hiring an employee.
Once upon a time, if I heard someone anguishing over hiring an employee, I would have possibly laughed at them and told them to get over it. Companies hire employees all the time. But as a business owner myself? Well, it’s a totally different ball game. And it really is no laughing matter.
I mean, it’s your business, right? What if the person you hire doesn’t do things the way that you would? It’s enough to keep you up at night.
I have been through this myself, and it sucks. But, I have some advice that will make it a bit easier for you to transfer from a “doing-it-all-by-myself” entrepreneur to “doing-it-with-hired-help” entre-preneur. (Which would you rather be?)
Remember your employee is (gasp) an employee.
What happens with a lot of entrepreneurs is that they expect the employee to care about the company as much as they do. But, really, an employee is an employee. Your business will never mean as much to someone else as it does to you. Your business is your baby.
(To continue with this metaphor, when you have an actual baby and you have to leave it in someone else’s care, you can’t expect that person to love the baby like you do. But you can be pretty certain that the person will care very much about your baby and will not let anything happen to him or her.)
The best way to get past this issue of worrying about your employee caring about your business enough is to encourage him or her to become invested. Offer incentives! Get employees excited about helping to grow your business. Let them see the bigger picture and where you’re willing to take them. Treat them well by saying thank you. Small tokens of appreciation go a long way.
Your employees will probably never care about your business like you do, but they will care enough to do a good job for you, and that’s good enough.
Identify what’s making you worry.
When I was ready to hire an employee to help me with events, I was really, really bothered by the concept. So, I took some time to think about what was stressing me out so much. I realized that it was going to drive me foolish to give up control of organizing trade shows. When I knew that, I was able to address it and to make a plan. I had to simply lay down a detailed list of tasks. That made the transition a lot easier for both me and my employee.
Manage your expectations.
Be very clear with your employees about what your expectations are. I’m talking about writing clear lists of tasks and implicit instructions about how you want those tasks completed.
With my new trade show employee, I gave her backlogs of all the shows I had done in the past and was clear that I wanted her to replicate the process. I asked her not to deviate at all from the plan.
I told her how I wanted her to answer certain questions, how to set up, and what to do on the floor. I explained that I needed things to operate the way they always had. Eventually, I would let her put her own spin on it, and she understood that, but this was how I had to have things work for me in order to feel comfortable.
This really helped to make sure I wasn’t going crazy worrying about how things were being handled, and she didn’t have the stress of a crazy boss breathing down her neck.
Transitions are hard—change is hard! But when you’re prepared for it, things get a whole lot easier. And guess what? Things never stop changing when you own a business, so you might as well get as comfortable with being uncomfortable as you can.
In my next installment in this series of blog posts, I’ll talk about some other common business transitions, and we’re also going to talk about some areas in your business that you perhaps should be transitioning out of. Like, now.
Til then, please leave a comment, and let’s chat.
Celebrated health coach, cooking instructor, yogi, and writer, Heather K. Terry, is a true health aficionado. She is co-founder and COO of NibMor Chocolate, co-founder of the Gluten Free Sugar Cleanse, and a strong advocate of eating real, simply prepared, organic foods and avoiding genetically modified, highly-processed food-like objects. A graduate of The Institute for Integrative Nutrition and The French Culinary Institute of Manhattan, Heather’s passion for food and nutrition are palpable. www.heatherkterry.com