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Preparing Your Company for its First Employee
The signs are fairly obvious. Most of your waking moments may be spent running the business, and time is taken from your family and friends. Maybe you’re unable to keep up with demand and are actually having to turn customers away.
More or less, your stress level is beginning to climb rapidly as the papers stack up and nothing seems to get done. It’s time to get some help.
Before looking at prospects, consider these things:
What are you looking for?
Make a list of the things that need to be done for your business to run smoothly. Indicate which of those tasks you must do, which of the tasks you’d prefer to do, and which of the tasks can be delegated elsewhere. The latter is what you need that first employee for.
Think about what kind of manager you are in order to determine the best type of person to fit your style. If you’re the type that delegates and then does your own thing, then you will need someone who can think independently. If you get stressed occasionally, then you may want someone that works well under pressure.
Next, decide exactly how you want the business to grow with the additional help. If you’re looking to take this transition slowly, then you need someone for the clerical and administrative tasks that you just can’t seem to get to, such as filing and mail. If you’re ready to plow full speed ahead, you’ll want to find someone that can handle larger areas such as sales and distribution.
Once you’ve figured out exactly what you’re looking for, write out a job description. This will come in handy when you are coming up with help wanted ads and during the interview process, but it will also serve as a personal reminder of the load that will be taken off your shoulders once the right person is found.
What are the legal prerequisites?
There are several things you will need to do in order to legally be ready to hire someone.
• Obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) for tax returns.
• Obtain Workers’ Compensation Insurance.
• Register with the Department of Labor for your state.
• Invest in payroll software in order to properly withhold taxes. See the IRS Employer’s Tax Guide for further withholding information.
• Provide a safe working environment based upon the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA).
• Familiarize yourself with IRS Form 940-EZ, which you will need to file each year.
What are the business prerequisites?
In addition to legally preparing for an employee, it’s a good idea to implement additional business practices prior to seeking help.
• Determine what your time-off policy will be, such as vacation time, sick days, maternity leave, etc.
• Set up employee benefits, if feasible, such as health insurance or a 401(k) plan, including a sign-up procedure.
• Determine the disciplinary and review procedures for your business.
• Create an employee handbook, which indicates your business policies, including those items previously listed. Include a signature page for the employee’s indication that he/she read the handbook.
• If you have any information you need to protect from the competition, such as the recipes for your gourmet restaurant or lists of clientele, have an attorney draw up a Non-disclosure Agreement and/or Non-compete Agreement for every future employee to sign.
Hiring an employee can be intimidating, as it will knowingly take up precious time and resources. Make sure that your reservations don’t keep you from waiting too long. Missing the right window of opportunity may force you to hire in a hurry, resulting in the wrong person for your business.
Even if your situation only seems moderately stressful, evaluate your business and whether or not even a part-time employee might make things run more smoothly. At the very least, you will be able to determine when you may need someone in the future and start planning ahead to make the transition easier.
• Inc.com: The First Employee
• Nolo.com: Hiring Your First Employee – Ten Things You Must Do
• Microsoft.com: Five tips for Hiring Your First Employee
• AllBusiness.com: Ten Tips on Hiring Your First Employee
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Determining Your Employee’s Salary
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