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Hire Power

6 Things you need to do before hiring your first employee.

6 Things you need to do before hiring your first employee.

If starting a business is like giving birth, then hiring your first employee may well be compared to choosing your child's first baby sitter. It's a decision that's critical to the overall health, well-being and future of your company--and it can be a traumatic experience.

"Hiring determines whether or not you'll be successful with your company, and it warrants as much research and planning as product development does," says Joy Reed Belt, Ph.D., president and CEO of Joy Reed Belt Search Consultants, an executive search service, and Joy Reed Belt & Associates Inc., an international outplacement firm--both based in Oklahoma City.

In fact, Belt says, your first employee will likely set the tone for all your future hiring. "Throughout the life of your company, you're going to be compensating for that first employee's strengths and weaknesses," she says. Ideally, that person should provide a balance to your own strengths and weaknesses--a scenario much simpler to describe than to create.

"It's easy to hire somebody like yourself because you can have a wonderful conversation and you're comfortable with them," Belt says. "But if you do that, you're playing one-horse polo, and the other team may have more horses."

While personal compatibility is certainly important, your first priority should be to meet the needs of your business. "If you're building a company," says Belt, "you need a broad foundation of skills."

For more than a decade, business writer Jacquelyn Lynn has specialized in marketing and management issues. She lives in Winter Park, Florida.

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This article was originally published in the February 1997 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Hire Power.

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