Small business growing pains: To hire or hold off?
Deciding when to hire a new employee is perhaps one of the most terrifying decisions a small business can face … but it can also be one of the most triumphantly exciting ones, too.If your small business is feeling overwhelmed, how do you know if it’s just a fluke or a serious sign that you need long-term help? Can you afford to hire? Can you afford not to hire? Should you hire part-time, full-time or go with a freelancer? What’s the best way to go about hiring?So many questions! Don’t let the anxiety of growing pains get the best of you—before your small business opens the next chapter and expands the team, consider the following pointers:

  • Start by conducting a situation analysis: Project what your business and its profits will be doing in the next month, three months, six months and a year, based on the business volume you are currently experiencing.
  • If you haven’t already, detail the tasks that you specifically need help with or areas of your business that are currently strained by growth. Which position to fill first will differ for each company, depending on industry, location and the skills of its founders. For small businesses, it’s best to start building a core team of people who can get the company’s product or service to market.
  • At this point, consider all alternatives: Do you really need to hire someone? Many services can be outsourced to vendors, consultants or freelancers. This work may include accounting, manufacturing, website design, marketing and public relations — even administrative assistants can be hired “virtually.” Deciding what tasks to outsource and what to hire an employee for may come down to whether the work lies within your business’s main areas of strength and whether that function is needed on a regular basis.
  • Perhaps the main determining factor of your small business’s next move is to decide whether or not you can afford to hire and at what capacity—hourly, salaried or contract. Also consider what benefits, if any, your small business can offer at this time. Whenever possible, benefits to salaried employees should be offered in some capacity in order to be competitive in the hiring space.
  • Then, make a plan—draft a job description detailing the hours, the tasks and the pay and/or benefits associated with a potential new hire. Brainstorm previous experience, education and knowledge essential to the position. This is the information you’ll need to make the jump from pipe dream to new team.

Determining your financial threshold and deciding to move forward is the scary part. But once a plan has been outlined, and if your business has decided to move forward with hiring, the last piece of the puzzle is recruitment, and that’s the fun part!

  • Post the new job on your website or on public job sites to use search engine optimization to your advantage. Make sure job descriptions include keywords that job seekers are likely to search for, like the title and the city in which the job is located. Additionally, use common job titles along with the referencing of multiple industries within the posting.
  • Keep in mind that word of mouth is a powerful tool. Ask current employees, friends and industry peers to reach out to their personal networks in order to help you find qualified candidates. Additionally, with the rise of social networking sites like LinkedIn™, Twitter™ and Facebook™, word of a job opening is likely to spread from your network to like-minded or similarly interested individuals much faster than an arbitrary job site posting.
  • If you don’t believe your small business is well positioned to undertake the lengthy and sometimes expensive process of hiring, don’t go it alone. Hiring professional recruiters or headhunters can sometimes make the process easier and leaves the work of finding qualified candidates up to the recruiter. Other options for active recruitment can involve job or career fairs. Attend these community events to boost awareness among job seekers. These events also offer greater opportunity to screen potential candidates before encouraging them to apply. If conversations with booth or table visitors seem promising, ask for applications on the spot. Then, send them home with more information on your small business in a logo’d Presentation Folder and a business card they won’t soon misplace, in the form of a Business Card Magnet, to keep your posting and brand top of mind.
  • Try attracting quality candidates by featuring your brand. When possible, avoid posting to job sites or boards anonymously—instead be sure to include your organization or department logo in postings along with links to your website or page. Encourage current staff to show career and brand pride with gifts like branded key chains or a tote bag. Proud employees will be more successful in reaching out to networks or finding referrals for qualified individuals.

Deciding when to hire and then actually doing it is no small feat for any small business. But with thought, a little review and some optimistic excitement, it could be time. Happy hiring!

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