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Bettie Goes Solo: Five Signs It’s Time To Hire Your First Employee

I don’t know about everyone else, but when I’m really busy with work, I get this slightly panicky feeling. It makes me breathe a little quicker and move a little faster. And, there’s something about that feeling that I’m pretty sure I’m addicted to. It’s the slight fear that I won’t be able to get everything done that makes me challenge myself to tick off my entire to-do list for that day. It’s empowering, rewarding and above all fulfilling.

But, there comes a time in any small business when the growth of your business outweighs your ability to keep on top of that feeling. When you have that little fear feeling in your gut morning, noon and sometimes at half past midnight, when you wake up in a cold sweat, because someone in your dream reminded you that you forgot to chase an invoice.

When you have WhatsApp messages from friends that are a week old, that you still need to respond to. When you’d rather be replying to emails, then soaking up the four days of sunshine that Summer will offer this year. When you’re so tired at the end of each day, that you barely make it to the 9:55pm conclusion of Love Island – it’s time to take on some help.

That’s a pretty scary feeling.

If this all sounds familiar, here’s five signs that it’s time to hire in some help:


Five signs it’s time to hire your first employee


When was the last time you did your small business bookkeeping? Do you have a pile of receipts in a Sainsbury’s bag that is getting bigger and bigger every day? If your accounting is more than four weeks behind, you’re in trouble. But, like me, this is always the last thing on my list of things to do.


You start most of your emails and text messages with the word sorry


When you open your WhatsApp, are there weeks of unanswered text messages in there? Do you spend half an hour at the end of every week apologising for your total lack of correspondence with your nearest and dearest? While this is likely a fleeting lapse in your attentiveness, it’s a sign you’re time poor.


You keep talking about ‘when things settle down’


Are your busy periods starting to all link up and make one giant busy period? Do you feel like the last time you had any real downtime is a distant memory? If you’ve been holding onto the idea that things will start to calm down soon, and soon just keeps getting further and further away, you need to reshuffle your time onto someone else.


Your brain is just as tired as your body each evening


Some days when I go to bed, I feel like my entire brain is tired. It’s the same feeling you get when you’ve been talking all day and feel like you can’t utter another word. I get this feeling all the time at the moment and it’s not from talking all day as my conversations with the dog are fairly one sided. It’s a sign that you’re using pretty much all the energy your body has to offer. And that, my friend, is not sustainable for too long.


You haven’t spent any real time planning your upcoming months


When was the last time you planned? I mean really sat down and looked at the next six months and decided what you were going to do to keep your business growing? Yeah, that’s what I thought. If instead of a six month plan you’re working to a six day one like I am now, it’s time to get your priorities straight.

When I worked in the city, I had a team of people that reported to me. Those people had more people that reported to them. When we needed more resource, we made a case, interviewed and got the newbie in to get the work done. When it’s your own business, it’s a totally different ball game.

I’ll be responsible for making sure there’s enough money coming in to pay their salary. I’ll be responsible for making sure that they are doing their job effectively and I’ll be responsible for making sure they’re happy working for me. That’s a whole lot of responsibility.

But if your business isn’t going forward, it’s only going backwards. So, it’s time for me (and you) to get your first employee hiring underway. Here are five things that you need to think about when you start this process.

1. Who on earth is going to want to work for me?

I’ve spent a year getting used to working by myself. I quite enjoy the quiet of working solo. I also enjoy not having to really deviate from a hoodie and leggings dress code. So who is going to want to work for me?

That’s the first thing you need to do. Imagine your ideal employee. If you had an extra set of hands around, what would they be doing so you could get on with the things you actually need to be doing. For me, it’s someone who wants flexible hours, is going to work hard, but also enjoy a consistent stream of hot cups of tea while listening to BBC 6 Music. You need to mix the job responsibility in with the personality to understand what you’re looking for. If you’re like me, your first employee will be working in your house, so it’s important they’re right for you and for your business.

2. Where on earth am I going to find them?

A lot of people will tell you to advertise on Gumtree. But I wasn’t sure I wanted to offer my first part-time role on the same site that offers a penthouse apartment on the Kings Road for £200 a month.

Sometimes your own network can prove to be the best way to find a candidate. The role that I’m offering is perfect for someone with young kids that is looking for flexible work. Local Mum groups on Facebook and getting the word out through my mum friends is likely to yield better results for me.

And, if all else fails, you can advertise your role on Indeed. But be warned, this could mean hours of sorting through hundreds of CVs to find anything that even comes close to being suitable for what you’re looking for.

3. How on earth am I going to pay them?

In one of the weekly business briefings that I have with my Husband, we sat down and worked out what information and figures I needed to look at to see if I could afford the employment costs. It roughly equated to one extra wholesale order a week – something I was confident that I could cover with the way that the business was growing.

If you’re worried about being able to cover the additional expense, the most important thing for you to do is make a list of all the tasks you are going to look at once you’ve hired your first employee. Then rank these in order of how much money they will bring in, so that you’re focussing on the income generating side of the business while you get used to having this additional expense.

4. What on earth will I give them to work on?

Sometimes handing over work that you’ve lovingly cared for since the business’ inception can feel completely counter-intuitive. You’re going to have to hand it over someday, so why not let today be that day. People aren’t always going to get things done in the exact same way as you do, but the important thing is that they’ll get done. You just need to prepare your new employee by making sure they know what’s expected of them in the given time frame.

5. When on earth will I know that I’ve made the right decision?

This one is easy. Just look at the first list of five things and see how much you’ve changed since you first decided to take someone on.

If you’re on top of your admin, responding to work emails and texts from family and friends in a normal time frame, you’re not as tired and you’ve got a solid plan for the next six months, then you’ve made the right decision.

There’s something really exciting, but also really scary about taking on your first employee. Years of management training in the corporate world doesn’t prepare you for being at the top of the teeny tiny hierarchy of your small business. But then what would? Nothing really. It’s another risk that you need to be willing to take if you want to grow your business and keep things on the up.

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Andy is the owner of Bettie Confetti, a snarky greeting cards line available at Not On The High Street, Etsy and select independent retailers in the UK.

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