Your First Hire

(Ping! Zine Issue 10) – You’ve started your web hosting company, poured your blood and sweat into it, worked night and day, missed meals.  And now it’s time to grow.  The phones are ringing off the hook, e-mails are flooding your inbox, and orders don’t seem to stop coming in.  Well, if you’re in this situation you truly are fortunate and your hard work is being rewarded.  But as the sole owner of your startup, isn’t it time you started to seek for talent?  Someone who will join your team and make the workload just a bit lighter?  Let’s explore the question of whether or not you are ready to hire an employee, what alternatives are available, and what you should consider before picking your first hire.

Step 1: Identify your strengths and weaknesses.
If you were capable enough to start your own web hosting business all by yourself, chances are you are a pretty talented individual.  But the question is: how far does your talent go when it comes time to growing your operation?  By identifying your strengths and your weaknesses, you discover the aspects of your business that you need more help with.

If you are skilled in aspects of both the business and the technology side of your company, you’re already ahead and chances are you will be able to manage your business effectively while keeping a close eye on all of the details.  If your strength lies in either the technology or the business side, you will need to identify where you add the most value and where your first hire will need to contribute.

Identifying your strengths and weaknesses will allow you to see what you need your hire to do in order to holistically benefit your business operation.  Since your business will only grow from here, hiring a talented individual who will add value to your company will benefit you, and allow you to concentrate on key tasks that will continue to fuel your growth.

Step 2: Itemize the tasks that you need help with.
Once you have identified your strengths and weaknesses, use this as a guide to put together a list of tasks that you need help with.  If your background is in the technical side of things, this means your first hire should be business oriented, whose skills lie perhaps in the marketing, sales and customer service aspects of your company.  If you possess business savvy but have little experience in the technology side of things, your first hire should be someone experienced with managing web servers, handling technical support inquiries, and taking a proactive approach in ensuring the smooth operation of your servers.

It is very important to be detailed when it comes to itemizing tasks that you need help with.  For one thing, it will serve as a guide when it comes to the process of screening potential employees and discovering your first hire.  Depending on your financial resources, you may hire just one employee, or a small team of two or more employees.  Having too many tasks for one employee to take care of, or having too few tasks for three employees to take care of is inefficient.  Thus, when compiling a list of tasks, you will need to describe what the general duties and responsibilities are of each hire.

Step 3: Job details and remuneration.
Now that you have a list of tasks that you have identified as being essential for your first hire to perform, work on the details of the job and determine the compensation.  When looking at the job details, write down what the duties and responsibilities are, including how much control they have over the decision making process, what they are responsible for accomplishing, and what they will receive (salary or wage) for performing their job.

This is a very crucial step and it is important to be detailed.  Knowing what needs to be done and assigning tasks to your first hire should be executed in the most efficient manner in order to get the most return on your investment, primarily what you pay your first hire.  Therefore, you must explore absolutely every detail encompassing all tasks, duties and responsibilities of your employees, and be able to properly document it so that they will serve a beneficial role to your business.

Step 4: Writing the job description.
A job description is a detailed document that outlines the position you are hiring, the key duties and responsibilities that need to be performed, and the skills, background and qualifications that must be met in order to select the proper candidate.  For more information on writing a proper job description, refer to the following resources:

http://www.onlinewbc.gov/docs/manage/descriptions.html
http://www.clearlybusiness.com/people_management/rm_write_a_job_description.jsp
http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/0,4621,315429,00.html

Step 5: Posting, screening and interviewing.
Now that you have a proper job description, post an ad on web sites.  There are a few large employment web sites where you can post your ad.  Visit the following web site for more details:

http://www.monster.com

Once your ad is posted and the resumes start pouring in, begin screening the candidates and identify potential hires.  Your decision is entirely based on how confident you feel in each candidate’s experience and qualifications.  Select the ones that you feel will benefit your company, and bring them in for an interview.

When interviewing, you should have a list of questions to ask in advance which will further help you assess the capabilities of each candidate, and what they can possibly contribute to your business.  The questions you ask should give you an idea of each candidate’s ability to perform and it should illuminate their capacity to do the work you need them to do.

Step 6: Now pick your first hire.
Now that you’ve gathered all of this information, screened candidates and identified a few potentials, choose one.  Choose the one you feel will add the most value to your organization, the one which is most capable, and the one you feel you can build a long term work relationship with.  Remember, the time that you have just invested to identify your first hire is very valuable and there is nothing worse than having your first hire quit on you after their first few weeks of training.  You will have no choice but to start the process all over again.

Working with your first hire might be an interesting experience for you, particularly if you haven’t had previous management experience or if all the work you’ve done up to this point involved little or no outside assistance.  But if you’ve provided your first hire with enough material and training to do their job, it’s only a matter of time before you see the results of your company’s growth.

Are there alternatives?
Of course there are.  If you do not have the financial resources available to hire someone full time and compensate them with a salary or regular wages, consider outsourcing your work or hiring contractors on a situational basis, whenever you need work done.  This allows you to have a better control over your budget while giving you the flexibility of seeking assistance only when needed.  Of course, working with many companies and contractors does have its effect on the time you spend in actually running your business, but for a startup, it may be the most feasible alternative to hiring someone full time.

Lastly
Depending on where you do business, there are certain laws that govern the employment process.  It is strongly advisable that you do your research before undertaking any of these tasks so that you are aware of the considerations of hiring employees in your jurisdiction.

Aside from that, seeking for your first hire is a positive sign of growth.  Provided you continue to manage your web hosting company well, you can only grow from here!

Johnder Perez is an avid writer and a business consultant specializing in marketing, branding and sales.  He is also the creator of WebHostStartup.com, the web hosting industry’s first startup blog.

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