When should you hire your first employee?

Being a solopreneur means you have full control over how your business is run, set your own schedules, and navigate zero internal bureaucracy. But working alone also stretches you thin, and you're limited to working within your skillset. So at what point should you hire your first employee?
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As a solo entrepreneur, you've navigated the entrepreneurial journey on your own, but there comes a time when the question arises: "Is it time to hire someone to help out?" It's a pivotal decision that can significantly impact your business's growth. After all, hiring your first employee immediately spikes your overhead costs, and now you're required to dedicate time to manage a person in addition to your business. Here are four key factors to consider when you're thinking about whether or not your company has reached a point where it could benefit from your first employee.

Workload and productivity

Consider the workload you're currently managing. Are you stretched to the limit, juggling tasks from dawn to dusk? If you find that your productivity is suffering because you're spread too thin, it might be time to bring in some help.

At Less Annoying CRM, even though our founders Tyler and Bracken were comfortable handling customer support and onboarding while building the app during the first year of the business, they realized that if the goal was to make LACRM's customer support exceptional in the industry, customer support needed to be someone's top and only priority. But the app was still in its infancy and neither of them could afford to stop working on the product, so they knew they needed someone else. As such, our first ever hire was Michael, the Original CRM Coach.

By hiring their first full time employee, Tyler and Bracken no longer had to put their development work on pause when a customer called in. In addition, they now had a teammate who could dedicate all his time into building out the framework of what Less Annoying customer success should be. And today, LACRM has the highest-rated customer support in the CRM industry.

Specialized Skills and Expertise

Think about the skills needed to take your business to the next level. Are there specific areas where you lack expertise? If so, hiring someone with specialized skills can be a game-changer.

As a solo entrepreneur, you may have advisors, mentors, and other entrepreneurs that you bounce ideas off of and occasionally collaborate with. But when it comes right down to it, your business will share the same blind spots that you have, and is limited by the skillset that you bring to the table. You can be phenomenal at many things, but you cannot be phenomenal at everything.

For many companies, their very first hire is one that expands the expertise of the founding team. Your first customer success lead, your first marketer, your first business development executive. Amazon's first ever hire was Shel Kaphan, who lent technical expertise to support Jeff Bezos' business acumen and vision, and built the first version of the Amazon.com that we know today.

So if there are gaps in your skillset, and they're leading to missed opportunities, that's a clear indicator that it's time to hire your first employee.

Revenue and Growth Potential

Assess your business's revenue and growth potential. Are you consistently hitting revenue goals, and is there a clear path for growth? If the answer is yes, hiring an employee could be a wise move. When business is booming, the first thing you need to do is capitalize on the traction and make sure you can meet and exceed what your customers expect from you.

Hiring your first employee doubles your productivity fairly quickly (after a period of training and learning, of course) which is key to scaling your output. For LACRM, that meant that once our customer numbers started spiking, we made sure to hire CRM Coaches to meet this demand as soon as we're able to.

Time Management and Prioritization

Reflect on your daily tasks. Are you spending a significant amount of time on activities that could be delegated to someone else? If so, freeing up your time for strategic planning and core business activities can be transformational.

Running a business doesn't mean having to run every single aspect of your business independently. A business owner should always have the full picture and vision for the company at the forefront of their mind, and spending too much time on day-to-day items that would be better off delegated is a surefire way to get lost in the weeds and miss the forest for the trees. For our CEO Tyler, that is the key difference between being an entrepreneur and a CEO (he's written a whole article about it that you can read here).

At the end of the day, the decision to hire your first employee as a solo entrepreneur is a significant step. It should be guided by a thorough evaluation of your workload, revenue, growth potential, the need for specialized skills, and time management. By taking these factors into consideration, you can make a well-informed choice that sets your business on a path to success. Remember, the journey of entrepreneurship is unique for each individual, and the timing of hiring your first employee should align with your business's specific needs and goals.

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