Congratulations! Getting to the stage where it feels like you’re ready to make your first hire is no mean feat. 

However, while delegating some of your day-to-day tasks will doubtless free up more time to work on the strategies that’ll help you level up your business even further, hiring your first employee is a huge decision, with financial and legal implications to think about.

So, if you’re still on the fence and need a little help figuring out whether now really is the right time to get some extra help, we’re sharing 6 things to consider before placing that job ad.

1. Do you need an employee…or a freelancer?

You’re spinning a tonne of plates — you know you need help if you’re going to be able to grow your business. But what kind of help do you need?

Say you’re spending hours on your social media marketing. It might be that you just need to secure a social media manager who can do in a few hours a month what it takes you days to complete.

Similarly, if sorting out your financial admin is your biggest obstacle to finding more time for working on your business, hiring a freelance bookkeeper or getting the right online accounting software might be the key to gaining back control.

However, if you need help with multiple different tasks, or you’re pretty confident that you have enough extra work to cover more than 20 hours a week, you may well need an employee.

At this point, it’s worth taking the time to really consider what you need and define the role of your new employee, so you know exactly who you’re looking for and what you expect them to do in your business.

2. Can you afford it?

Once you’ve defined the role, you’ll have a better idea of the budget you’ll need to allocate for their salary, and whether you can afford it long-term.

But be aware that there will be other costs to weigh up too.

There are the obvious ones like National Insurance Contributions and auto-enrolment pension scheme payments, and you’ll also need to have funds to cover employer’s liability insurance. There could be additional set up costs if you need to purchase a new desk or tech equipment for them to work with.

You might also want to pay a lawyer to ensure your employee’s contract is watertight and you may benefit from engaging a recruitment company to help you with the hiring process.

And there may be ongoing costs involved in training your new hire and keeping their skills fresh.

It all adds up so it’s worth crunching the numbers to see what you can comfortably afford.

3. Can you afford not to?

While the costs involved in bringing in a new hire can take on a life of their own, a more pertinent question than “can I afford this” is “can I afford not to?”

If you’re regularly turning down sales because you’re already at capacity or you have concrete growth plans that will only come to fruition if you have an extra pair of hands, you might find that your new employee pays for themselves within the first year.

4. It comes with a steep learning curve.

There is always going to be a learning curve for employees as they learn the ropes of a new job and adapt to how you like to do things.

But it’s a serious learning curve for you as a business owner too, particularly if you have no prior experience in a leadership role.

As a new boss, you’ll have to learn how to delegate well, how to teach, how to motivate and encourage, and also how to loosen the reins a touch as your new hire brings new perspectives and ideas about how to run your business.

5. It can be risky.

When they start working for you, your new employee will be representing your brand — what they say, what they do, how they react to stressful situations, and how they treat customers all reflects on you and your business.

Hire the wrong person, and you could find yourself spending more time putting out fires than working on your levelling up strategy.

However, it is possible to minimise the risks by creating a stringent hiring process.

Many people know exactly how to ace an interview so asking potential hires to complete a relevant task often gives a more accurate representation of whether they can actually do the job. For example, if you’re looking for someone to increase your revenue, introduce a little role play to the interview and ask them to try to sell you something.

And always listen to your gut: if your instincts are warning you that a particular candidate isn’t the right person to represent your business, hold out for someone who fills you with confidence.

6. There’s a lot of admin involved.

If you think there’s a lot of admin involved in running your business now, just wait until your new hire signs the dotted line of their contract.

You’ll have to calculate and create payslips, issue P60s, provide HMRC with Employer Payment Summaries and Full Payment Submissions, and manage things like annual leave and sickness related absences.

It’s a lot.

But, before you panic, there are some excellent software options that make all of the essential employer admin far easier.

Clear Books, for example, is not only an easy-to-use online accounting software  but also a popular online payroll & HR software option with extensive features that’ll help you create payslips, keep yourself right with HMRC, manage pension payments, take care of overtime, bonuses, and deductions, and manage your employee’s annual leave too.

Ultimately, only you can decide whether the time is right to expand your business by taking on your first employee. But, while there are certainly complications involved, it’s manageable when you have the right tools and the right support. And, since a new hire is often the key to increasing your revenue, helping you achieve a healthier work/life balance, and pushing you towards the next exciting phase of business growth, it’s almost certainly going to be worth the effort.

Clear Books is an award-winning online accounting, payroll & HR software for small businesses. Thousands of business owners, contractors, freelancers and sole traders across the UK use our easy-to-use online accounting software to manage their business finances. All users benefit from the outstanding free telephone and email support. Clear Books was launched in London in 2008 and offers a free 30 day trial with free ongoing support and bank feeds. We’re rated as ‘Excellent’ on Trustpilot.

Get a free 30-day trial of Clear Books online accounting software here.

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