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Question added to topic Human ResourcesFebruary 27, 2010

How do you know it's the right time to hire your first employee?

My husband started our business five years ago. I came on board a couple years ago to assist with office administration. We're doing fine, supporting just the two of us--but we would like to see this grow into something more.
Having started businesses of my own, I really understand how you feel.

From my perspective, you and your husband need to do some strategic planning to set ambitious but realistic goals of what you want/need for the business to provide for you and your family--both short-term and long-term.

Include the objectives that will allow you to reach your goals and break down the objectives into activities with timelines for achieving each.

Then, I suggest that you each prepare an honest assessment of what you are bringing to the company regarding skill sets--list and evaluate how you both contribute to the business regarding how you spend your time each day/week/month.

Each of you should be able to identify what items on your usual to-do lists could be delegated with a modicum of training and which responsibilities must remain in your own hands.

If you can find ways in which to increase your income or profitability by delegating bookkeeping, for example, so that you can produce more product or chargeable services, that would make sense.

What you don't want to do is create a point of diminishing returns by hiring someone to do something that you could do in a much more cost-effective way or create overhead with no discernible improvement to the business' bottom line.

A good way to go might be to hire someone on a part-time basis and/or someone who can work virtually (having his/her own home office, for example) to keep your overhead down while you assess the benefits the person can bring.

The good news for you is that in this job market, you can find some outstanding talent to help you with your business.

In addition, you should look around at your competition and see what is developing in that arena. For example, it is possible that a merger might resolve your issues regarding employing anyone. A competitor may need the skills you have and vice versa.

Penny is a seasoned human resources executive and consultant with over 25 years of diverse business experience in advising enterprise leaders on employment-related matters.

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