before you hire an employee

Warning: Don’t Hire Anyone Till You Do These Four Things by @smartstep

before you hire an employeeby Andrea Travillian | Featured Contributor

It’s pretty hard to listen to any small business advice without the topic of getting help coming up.

Many business guru’s promote adding employees and independent contractors as soon as possible.

I, however, am here to tell you it’s time to slam on the brakes.  Hiring when not ready can cause your company to crash before it ever get the chance to succeed!


Because when hiring is not done right, it creates cash flow problems and time management issues.  The two things you thought were going to improve by adding help end up creating sleepless nights.

Almost all of my clients that come to me with cash flow and/or exhaustion problems, find the solution in addressing employee issues.

They either have added employees without knowing exactly what they want them to do, or they’ve added employees that don’t have the right skills so they end up the focusing more on training/management and problem solving.  Instead of increasing profit.

Before you run out and start hiring like crazy, even if it’s just an independent contractor, you need to do these four things first.

Define What is Needed (Job Description)

One of the best things a small business can take from corporate America is the practice of having a job description for every employee.

This is because when you have one it is easier to find the right person for the role that needs to be done and they know what they will be responsible for.

Start by creating a list of everything that you need help with.  Be as detailed as possible.  Don’t just say I need help with social media.   Put into writing exactly what parts of social media that you need help with.

Are they going to manage Twitter, Facebook and Instagram?  Are they creating the posts? Are they scheduling the posts? Are they creating all the images needed?  Are they tracking the engagement and ROI?  Get as detailed as possible.

After you have created your list of things you need help with divide the list into specific jobs that you would like to hire for.  For example you might have a social media position, an accountant position and a project manager.

Create Processes

Processes allow your employees to know exactly what needs done and how you want it done.  It ensures that the task will be done the same no matter who is doing the job.

What I mean by a process is nothing more than a checklist for how things get done.   It would look like this:

  • Write a blog post.
  • Copy and paste it into WordPress.
  • Add links to relevant content.
  • Add a Click to Tweet.
  • Create an image in two sizes; one for Pinterest, one for Instagram.
  • Select the publish date.

Extra credit for creating a screen-cast of yourself doing these.   This way, when you bring an employee on, not only do they know what they’re responsible for, but they know exactly how you want it done.

Start with Independent Contractors

Before you jump straight into hiring an employee, start with independent contractors.   This does a few things.   You learn how to delegate, communicate and in general be a boss.   You will also learn if your processes are understandable and doable by others or if they need adjustments when it’s not you actually doing the job.

It also allows you to grow into hiring from a financial stand point.  An independent contractor allows you to see how your budget works with the extra expenses, it enables you to try it out without the added employee benefit and tax costs.  At the same time, as you are trying it out, it makes it easier to eliminate the position if it just is not working out.

 Purpose of an Employee

Finally, keep in mind the purpose of an employee.   The purpose of an employee should be about adding revenues and profits to the bottom line, because they free you up to do what you are best at.

If you run out and hire five people, but you end up spending your time managing them and you can’t increase revenues, you’ve done nothing but narrow your margins and create less profit in your business.

The only time there would be a different purpose that does involve profits, is if you are working crazy hours and your life is out of control.  Then a bit less profit to gain your life back may be worth the cost.  Still keep in mind the goal though, and if the employes adds more work to your plate, you have lowered profits and time, thus not winning anywhere.

Once you go through these four steps, then you have the perfect scenario to be able to hire your first employee successfully.


Financial Coach for Business Owners – Andrea Travillian

Andrea TravillianI am a financial coach specializing in helping business owners use their businesses to create the financial freedom they crave.   We accomplish this by creating enough profits to move the money to other investments and eventually to sell the business. 
My training is in finance with a degree from the University of Iowa and my MBA from Creighton University.  I have worked in banking, corporate finance, taxes, and retirement investing both in the United States and abroad in Australia.   In 2008 I started working with individuals and micro businesses to help them understand,  manage and grow their money.
I am a natural long term planner with the ability to help you focus on the future, set goals that will get you there and organize your life and business to help you achieve your goals.   If you are seven years from retirement or 25 years from retirement getting the right plan in place will help you get where you want to go.
I have been seen in Women’s Health, Fox Business, and Refinery29.  I have four easy to read books on personal finance and I enjoy talking to groups about the benefits of financial health.
When I am not learning about personal finance and business, I enjoy time with my husband and son.  I love health, fitness, coffee, and the beach!
You can connect with me on most of the social media channels including Twitter and Facebook and at my website Take A Smart Step.

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One Reply to “Warning: Don’t Hire Anyone Till You Do These Four Things by @smartstep”

  1. Judy Yaron PhD

    Excellent – NOT just for small business owners. For anyone dealing with HR! Just what I need. I am in the midst of writing a proposal for a project with multiple participants. Love DPP – Description, Process and PURPOSE! THANKS 🙂 HUGS <3

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