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Posted by: Adam Murphy on 1/17/2012 | 0 Comments

There are three very distinct areas to consider when hiring your first employee. The first is the financial side. Which is what should create the impetus for hiring. Will this decision help make more money? It may sound cold, but every major decision for a business must start there. Lose money as a small business and you lose the business, and maybe far more.

The second aspect of hiring is you, the business owner. Are you ready for an employee and the risks and challenges that go along with it? How will your reality change, and can you accept those changes?

The final piece to hiring that first employee is, "Who to hire?" Assuming you have detailed what you want this person to do, that should help identify the traits and skills and talents required. It is unlikely that this first employee will fall into a specific and limited role - bookkeeper, for example - because you should be able to do your own books as a single person business.

It is far more likely that you will need to hire someone who will answer the phone, interact with customers, handle quotes and sales, help provide a service or create a product, support your customers - basically someone like you. It's really something to consider - can you handle someone like you in your space? To be a business owner generally requires more than a little bit of ego, and someone talented enough to be your Number One will not come with a small ego. And you don't want them to either! Consider yourself warned.

There are two ways to approach this first hire - either as a Partner, or as an Employee. A partner may mean some level of financial buy-in from that person. It may mean some level of control in the company. There is a lot to consider here, and a partner is a whole different venture. Personally, I don't recommend it, but that's a decision only you can make. I have mentioned the NY Times Small Business Blog before, and Paul Downs has a few great posts about his Partner Experience. Here I will stick to actually hiring an Employee.

Of course, hiring a first employee is obviously something you only do once, so my thoughts on it are based on my limited experience. Your situation may be vastly different. There are four groups to consider when hiring - Family, Friends, Acquaintances, Strangers.

Generally speaking, I am opposed to family members working together. The holidays are difficult enough without added stress. Do I know people who have had some success working with their families? Yes... and she now works for me while her sister works somewhere else. They no longer work together, but as a plus, they still love each other! The biggest challenge with hiring a family member is that you are essentially hiring that whole side of the family. You can not expect privacy. Add to that the family members who feel they are qualified to work for you, and you are setting yourself up for planning Thanksgiving vacations away from the family for the rest of your life.

Strangers I think, is a difficult group to consider at first as well. It may be difficult for someone to take your business seriously as a one-man shop. Also, it can be very difficult to judge a potential hire's enthusiasm for your business early on. Once you grow and have a reputation, it's much easier to attract and hire the type of people you want for the business. But initially, that first person is such a make it or break it proposition, I think hiring blind would be tough. Also, it will represent a tremendous amount of time, effort, and perhaps cash that you likely don't have the ability to spend.

So, Friends and Acquaintances is where I would draw from first - leaning towards Acquaintances. I have hired friends and friends of employees, and actually found that to be extremely beneficial. They know your quirks, you know theirs. They know about the business and the passion you have. It can really work out well... for the third or fourth person you hire. Try for and Acquaintance first. Here's who I hired and why.

One of the odd jobs I did for twelve years was to deal craps (yes, the dice game) for a local casino party company. I got into it because I loved the game and I stayed because I really came to enjoy teaching people how to play a very complicated game. Jason was another dealer whom I got to know over the years. We would probably see each other fifteen to twenty times a year - a lot more regularly around the holidays - and the group would often head out for a beverage after a gig. So, my definition of an Acquaintance. We later became friends.

What I learned about Jason during these years was that he was arguably one of the smartest people I'd met - quick with math, capable of multi-tasking, picked stuff up incredibly quickly. He was also good at instructing people. We spent a lot of time teaching people who had never played craps, how to play correctly, and that's not always easy depending on the amount of alcohol flowing at a party. I knew that he had been in the banking industry, doing loans and mortgages, so his business skills were there. He had also moved over into the IT department of his bank, and he complimented my technical skills well. The final piece that fell into place was perhaps a bit of luck on my part - his bank was bought out right at the time I was looking to hire, so he was about to be free.

It was the perfect hire, and he helped Big Bang grow into the business it is today.

Posted by: Adam Murphy on 12/6/2011 | 1 Comment

Most likely, you are reading this post because you have some interest in operating or starting a small business, whether as a current owner or someone considering the leap. Of course, you may also be looking into Big Bang LLC as a potential customer, vendor, or employee, or perhaps you've simply followed a thread from somewhere else. Regardless of the rationale behind your landing here specifically, the general goal is learning about small business.

So, my question is, where do you go for learning about small business and entrepreneurship? Books? Blogs? News shows? Friends and family? Other business associates? Here's a few that have impacted my personal and business philosophy.

Books: Some fluff, some anecdotal, some analytical, and some deeply personal, in no particular order.

Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki
Great by Choice by Jim Collins
Where Have All the Leaders Gone by Lee Iacocca
Why Work Sucks by Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson
Illusions by Richard Bach
The 10 Laws of Enduring Success by Maria Bartiromo

Blogs: I love the immediacy of blogs, and I find the comments amusing! From a business perspective, I regularly read the New York Times Small Business Blogs, called "You're the Boss."  Specifically, I'm a fan of:

Paul Downs - The best questions about his own business
Bruce Buschel - The most divisive blog I read
Jay Goltz - Just plain great small business advice

Do I agree with everything from these sources? Of course not. Often times I disagree, actually. And some times my opinion changes over time, or I re-read a book or posting and get something new out of it.

As for other sources - I am always talking business with people, whether they're asking about Big Bang or I'm seeking advice from them. My father bought his sales rep business from the previous owner. My mother is entrenched in the politics and unique chaos of the VA hospital system. My wife travels the country for Northwestern Mutual training and working with financial reps. The ideas and suggestions of my employees have proven vital throughout the years, and I continue to go to them to tap their wisdom or to get their perspective.

My point is that there is a tremendous amount of information available, and in business, like in poker, the more information you have and the more open your mind to possibilities, the better a decision you can make. Where do you go for small business inspiration and wisdom?


  • About Big Bang Blog

    There are many reasons to write a small business blog, we wanted to bring you at least a few reasons to read one. The Big Bang Blog covers the ins and outs of running a small software business, as well as a variety of small business marketing and media topics. Please leave us your comments and questions.

    Be sure to visit our UIU Blog for Industry Insights, Product Updates, Support Notes and more.

    About Adam Murphy -  

    Adam is the President and Owner of Big Bang LLC and espouses a pretty progressive small business philosophy based primarily around hiring the right people and getting the hell out of their way.

    About Nate Bauer -

    Nate is the Marketing Director for Big Bang LLC and pretty much spends his days tip-toeing on the pinnacle of how to most effectively implement strategy given the wide open cookie jar of small business marketing possibilities. You can find him

    About Kelley Burian - @kelleyburian

    Kelley is the Sales Director for Big Bang LLC. Responsible for everything from GSA contracts, resellers and international customers, she has her hands full doing whatever she can to make sure our valued clients are thrilled with our fantastic products.

    About Justin McLaughlin -

    Justin has over seventeen years in IT management and consulting with Fortune 500 and AmLaw 200 firms. His creds are way too many to mention here, but in addition to reading his posts, you can learn more about him here
    Justin McLaughlin Headshot

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