The When, What, and How of Making Your First Hire
by Theresa Ceniccola
I love the thrill of starting something new! Hanging out a shingle and embracing the adventure of opening a new business. It’s just like bungee jumping—exciting and overwhelmingly terrifying at the same time! I was only 25 years old when I made that decision, so it helped that I was naïve and fearless. But I was also filled with determination and optimism. And in no time at all, I was booming with business.
So, I did what most small business owners do—I learned to do everything that needed to be done. I was in charge of customer service, sales and marketing, finances, and operations. Then, I had three babies in five years and was trying to stay on top of everything at home as well. Eventually, the one-woman show ran its course, and I realized I needed help.
If you’re overwhelmed with tasks in your business or at home, I know you can feel my pain. And you probably know you need help. But where do you start? Well, I’m not a human resources professional, but I can tell you what has worked for me over the past 20 years in making decisions to hire help.
When to Hire Help: Well, if you’re wondering if you need help, then you probably should have already hired someone. I say that because most of us moms wait until we’re completely overloaded before we even recognize that we need help. But sometimes it’s difficult to determine if we really need help—or if we just have a problem setting boundaries.
When you own your own business, you have to realize that there will always be more work to do. You will never be completely finished. (Kind of like laundry!) So, I think the best litmus test for deciding if you need help is to ask yourself, “What would happen if I took a week’s vacation and didn’t do ANYTHING in the business at all?” If the business or ministry would shut down, then you probably need some help.
What to Outsource: So, what do you let go of when you are ready to hire? The answer is different for everyone. But I’d start by making a list of all your tasks and responsibilities in the office and at home (because this little exercise might help you decide if it’s time to hire a babysitter or a cleaning service!). Highlight the things you enjoy doing and that you are good at. Those are things you want to keep doing. Put a star next to the things you don’t enjoy doing and you’re not very good at. For me, that’s bookkeeping and anything involving html coding! Those are the things you want to outsource.
I don’t remember where I learned this, but I’ve been told to “Do the things that ONLY you can do.” For me, that means writing and strategy in the business. And it means a lot of different things at home. It has helped me to think about where I’m needed most—and to realize that it’s okay to hire someone to do the things God isn’t calling me specifically to do. Things like sit and watch every soccer practice or run errands or organize my kids’ closets. It helps me make decisions on what I can delegate to a babysitter or ask a friend to help with.
How to Find Qualified Help: I’m going to sound old-fashioned, but I believe the best way to find good help is through word of mouth. Everyone who works with me in the business and at home came to me through a mutual friend. With all the tools and technology that’s available today, it may be antiquated to rely on personal referrals, but in my experience, they tend to work out better. (As long as you do your due diligence and hire people based on their qualifications, not a sense of obligation to your mutual friend!)
For example, every time I’ve used an online service to find a babysitter, I’m disappointed. I get decent candidates, and I’ve hired a few, but they don’t compare to the three or four girls who were referred by friends over the years and are now a part of the family even though they’re grown with children of their own.
I have also had success with hiring strangers for projects using an online service like Odesk or eLance, but the core team at the International Christian Mompreneur Network came to me through a friend or colleague.
So, I’m curious—have you hired anyone to help you in your business or ministry? I’d love to hear how you make hiring decisions.
Theresa Ceniccola is The Christian Mompreneur—a Mentor to Moms Who are Running a Business that Supports Faith and Family. She empowers entrepreneurial moms to build profitable businesses with wisdom and grace through the Christian Mompreneur Mastermind program and her professional Marketing services, which include copywriting, marketing, and strategy consulting and private coaching.