The entrepreneur struggle: when and how to hire
You’ve started your first company, congrats! Like so many other first-time entrepreneurs, you’ve gone at all alone. You’ve been juggling business development, admin and legal work, marketing, operations, and more — you’re a one man or one woman wonder.
You’re also not sleeping, you haven’t seen your friends in weeks, you’ve cancelled important appointments last minute, and clean your house or exercise? Forget it!
You’re doing everything, but not necessarily as well as you could be. Important things are beginning to slip through the cracks.
Then, one day, you come to a harsh realization: You need help.
Everyone gets overwhelmed at some point or another, you’re certainly not alone. The first step to solving your problem is recognizing that it’s time to bring in some reinforcements. It’s clear that you need to hire experts to manage the areas of your business that you’re struggling with.
The question is: Where do you start?
1) Identify your needs
You’ve been working 12-hour days for weeks, maybe months, and you know that you can’t keep this up long-term. The first question to answer is: Where specifically do I need help?
Help can come in a number of different areas, including (but not limited to):
- Business operations
- Marketing strategy
- Social media and community management
- Customer support
A great way to figure out the areas where you most need help is to think through what tasks take up the most time of your day — and which of those tasks you could delegate to someone else.
For example, spearheading fundraising for your company may take up heaps of time, but you know that’s something you need to take on personally. However, if you could bring someone on to help manage your customer support queries, your time will be freed up to focus on fundraising. These tasks will also often be the ones that are easiest to hire for at a lower rate, than let’s say someone who’s going to fundraise for you…which isn’t really a thing anyway.
2) Define the details of your needs
Now that you’ve decided it’s time to bring on help, and you know which area(s) you’re going to hire for first, you need to think through exactly what you need them to accomplish in order to be beneficial working with you.
For example, say you know you want someone to help out with customer support. Ask yourself these questions:
- What channels do they need to be actively on in order to provide adequate support to my customers — Twitter, Facebook, internal email?
- How much time do you need them to work with you?
- What could be improved about the current process or systems?
Define as many details for whatever responsibility it is that you’re hiring for as it pertains to your overall business goals. This will help you write out a solid job description.
With that said, you’re hiring an expert. Don’t be afraid to hand the reins over to them to make decisions and suggest improvements to current processes and workflows. As long as they’re following protocol and working to achieve them same goals as everyone else, be open to trying new things.
3) Determine the level of help you need
Depending on the level of experience you’re looking for, you’ll first need to think through the type and level of compensation to offer.
Want someone more senior who has experience working in your specific field who can fully own an area of your business? You’ll likely need to increase your incentives to attract the right candidates.
This requires a number of considerations, including but not limited to:
- Your budget
- The longevity of this need
- Where good talent is located
- What your culture is
- What your employment policies are going to be (i.e. Is remote work ok, or do they need to work in your office?)
- What are they going to need to get the job done successfully?
Of course budget is a whole other conversation — you have to consider payroll, benefits, 1099 vs. W2, whether or not you’re offering equity, etc.
4) Create a stellar job posting
When you’re putting together a job description to find the right talent, make sure that you’re being explicit about what they will be doing on a daily basis. The last thing you want is for someone to come on board and realize that they work you need done is either outside their experience level, or something they’re not interested in working on. Here are some elements to include in your job post to help attract the right talent:
- Start off with a descriptive — but brief — job title. If you were applying for a new job, what would you want to sign off with on your emails? You want people to be able to use their title as an indicator of their role in your company.
- Use language that aligns with your company culture. Let your personality show through! People want to apply to jobs that sound exciting, not the generic job postings of corporate past. Make sure you’re appealing to today’s talent.
- Clearly outline your expectations. By detailing day-to-day responsibilities, you’re giving potential candidates even more information about what they’ll be working on, allowing them to get a feel for whether or not they’re the best fit your your company. Are you hiring a contractor? Make sure they know straight off the bat the time commitment you’re looking for!
- Share your values. If you have a set of company values, be sure to share these in your post. People want to learn more about your company in order to decide if they want to join it. Any established values or mission statement that shares more is icing on the cake!
- Define key characteristics of your dream candidate. You know you’ve got that picture perfect coworker in your head, why not ask people to demonstrate how to fit that mold? The more direction you give in what you’re looking for, the more you’ll receive the best and brightest candidates!
5) Find talent in the right places
Friends and networks
Do you have friends you can trust to recommend top talent? Ask them first. As the old saying goes, “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” Some of the most qualified candidates could be people you’d never find on your own, so tap those networks to get feelers out there!
Job boards and groups
Depending on what you’re looking for, there are plenty of resources available to help meet your needs. If you’re looking to bring on a developer, for example, perhaps check out Hired.com, AngelList or Crew. Looking for someone to help out with community building and marketing? Head on over to CloudPeeps. Just be sure that whatever job board or group you’re looking in is relevant to the work you need done.
Attract the talent to you
This isn’t to say you should go out and buy a ping pong table and kegerator right now. Rather, let your company culture shine through everything you do — all blog posts, tweets, etc. Make your values and priorities clear. As you market your company consider not only the business (customers) you want to attract, but also the talent. As you become more established, you’ll find yourself with more and more inbound leads from people wanting to work with you!
Wrapping it up
Hiring for your business can be a scary, time consuming thing, but I can promise that it’s worth it in the long run. Start out small. These days, trial runs are more and more common.
If you’re not ready to make a full-time commitment, hire someone on a freelance basis for a few months. Marketplaces such as CloudPeeps are also viable alternatives because you can hire someone on a month-to-month basis while you grow and foster that working relationship.
No matter which direction you choose, you should be proud of yourself. You’ve taken the first step towards delegation and greater (and faster) business growth!
Ready to make a freelance hire? Check out our talent community of freelance professionals!
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