7 lessons from entrepreneurs who've recruited new employees for their small business

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Hiring new employees can be crucial to growth for small businesses. (Getty Images)
Hiring new employees can be crucial to growth for small businesses. (Getty Images)

As a small business owner, you're probably proud of your jack of all trades moniker - and rightfully so. After all, your tenacity, ingenuity, and juggling skills have got you to this point.

But there comes a time in the evolution of most young businesses when owners take stock of their situation - and realise that if they want to grow, it's not possible to keep doing everything from coffee brewing to deal closing.

For many, the alternative - hiring employees to reduce the load - is more terrifying. It comes with a raft of responsibilities, of which HR and payroll might be the most intimidating. But hiring employees shouldn't be a drain on your resources - in fact, it should have the opposite effect.

Delegating tasks to experts can keep you focused on what you each do best, and that way continue to grow the business. And with the aid of cloud-based software, it's possible to handle once-complex tasks like accounting, human resources, and payroll management.

'Work on your business, not in it'

No one knows this better than Jasper Basson, the founder of the accounting firm Dryk Holdings.

"Most business owners are terrible at delegating. I was one of them for a long time until I realised that to build something bigger, I needed to start working on my business, and not in it," says Basson.

It wasn't a process that came easily. Basson says delegating is like a muscle that you need to train - but eventually, it does become second nature. He also has some valuable tips for those who don't know where to begin this exercise.

"Entrepreneurs should reflect on the part of the business that excites them, the tasks that make them jump out of bed in the morning. Make a list of those tasks, and then outsource the rest," he says.

Basson also believes it's possible to start slowly with a part-time employee or virtual assistant and grow the team as you evolve.

Passion, attitude and fortune

For Tash Liesner, the co-founder of clothing rental company Style Rotate, hiring their first employees also came with some valuable lessons.

"The biggest lesson we learnt when hiring our first employees was the importance of finding people who are as passionate about the 'why' of your business as you are. As your team is starting out, every single person you bring in needs to get your business," Liesner says.

Liesner also says your first employees must know what they're getting themselves into. "They also need to be ready to work in a start-up environment, which often means being happy doing a bunch of different roles while the business grows." 

Of course, luck also plays a role in the employment process, particularly early on, which Tiny Keg Canning Co. founder Tom Riley experienced.

"I think we were pretty fortunate when we started out. The right people just happened to be there when we needed it. Our first employee was our first interview, and our second employee our second interview. Both were instrumental in moving us forward," he says.

Riley also believes that hiring your first employees is less about finding the perfect individual on paper - and more about finding someone who's a good fit for what you're trying to do.

"Attitude is far more important than a CV or even experience. Passion for the fledgling business and creating an environment where we could all learn and grow is more important than the hiring process," Riley says.

Hiring your first employees

When you eventually decide to pull the trigger and get some much-needed help onboard, here are some tips from business owners who've done it all before:

  • Understand why you want an employee - and what role the applicant will play in your business.
  • Advertise the position on reputable job sites, and reach out to your network for direct referrals.
  • Start with a long list of potential candidates. Then whittle these down to a list of people you want to meet in person.
  • During the interviews, you'll want to better understand the people beyond the details on their CVs. Ask about the candidates' work history and achievements, and request evidence of skills or qualifications.
  • Once you've identified a suitable candidate based on their experience and your instinct on how they'll match your business, it's time to make an offer based on your combined expectations and what you can afford.
  • If your candidate accepts the offer, you'll need to tick a few legal boxes, including registering as an employer at SARS. If it's your first time hiring, it pays to consult an expert who can assist with aspects like UIF, pension, contracts, and disciplinary hearings.
  • With all these boxes ticked, it's time to get your employee on the payroll. As an employer, you are responsible for paying your employees on time. Cloud payroll software can help automate this process.

If you're looking to hire your first employee, there are tools that can help. Sage Business Cloud Payroll will allow you to confidently manage all your payroll matters with a simple, reliable and flexible online payroll system, no matter your payroll experience.

For more information, visit Sage Business Cloud Payroll.

This post was sponsored by Sage and produced by Adspace Studio.

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