When you’re thinking about starting a business of your own, it’s easy to believe that you’ll never be able to succeed against the big guys like Walmart, Amazon or Apple. And you’re probably right.
But here’s the thing — you don’t have to.
99.9% of businesses across the U.S. — a whopping 33.2 million to be exact — are small businesses like yours. Their owners didn’t require huge overhead or massive inventories to get up and running and neither do you. What’s more, eight out of 10 small businesses operating in the U.S. today consist of just one person.
So in case you’ve been holding on to the idea that you can’t call yourself a business unless you have employees, get over it. As soon as you file the necessary paperwork and open your door to customers, you are a legitimate business.
This is not to say that you can’t or won’t ever have employees. Suppose your business picks up to the point that you can no longer handle it alone or that you need to free up time for tasks only you, as a business owner, can oversee. That could be the perfect excuse for you to take that next step and add a staff member or two.
Before you do, however, spend some time considering these pros and cons:
Make sure the timing is right
Shifting from sole proprietor to boss is a big step. From now on, in addition to yourself and your business, you are responsible for the welfare of your employee(s). Make sure that your business is growing in such a way that you will be able to consistently cover the increased costs of adding staff over an extended period.
Be honest about your needs
Is your business currently and consistently generating enough money to justify the addition of employees and if so, how many? Full-time or part-time? Regular hours or on-call? Have you given any thought to providing employee benefits? If so, what will they consist of and how much will they cost?
Hire correctly and efficiently
Know the specific skills each position requires and assess all applicants against their capabilities to handle day-to-day duties as well as more complicated tasks.
Keep these tips in mind When you begin looking for candidates:
- Ask friends, relatives and business associates for suggestions.
- Search for candidates online using reputable tools such as CareerSource, Employ Florida Marketplace, LinkedIn and Indeed.
- Tap into industry association websites.
- Hire a reputable staffing agency.
As inquiries begin to flow in, keep a running list of stand-out applicants and screen them first by phone. Identify strengths and weaknesses, and probe for qualities specific to the job you want to fill, such as friendly demeanor, leadership skills or workstyles. Invite the candidates who performed well by phone to your workplace for an in-person evaluation with the goal of determining a candidate’s overall readiness for the job at hand.
Narrow your final choices to no more than four, then invite each prospective candidate to your workplace separately for a prolonged conversation — over lunch perhaps. Introduce him or her to key employees with whom your new hire will likely interact. Keep a running tally of what you like and don’t like about each candidate so that by the end of these interviews, you know which prospective hire best fits your workplace and the people who currently inhabit that space, so you can extend a job offer with confidence.
Have the right paperwork
First day on the job, make sure that your new hire completes three important forms:
- I-9 (Employment Eligibility Verification)
- W-4 (Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate)
- Florida New Hire Reporting Form (due within 20 days of hire; available at newhire.floridarevenue.com)
Note: Florida law requires that businesses use federal form I-9 (also known as E-Verify) to check the immigration status of their new hires OR keep a three-year record of the documents used by applicants when filling out their I-9 forms.