Your first hire may be your most important

The saying, “hire in haste, repent at leisure”, is often used in terms of recruiting staff. You may also have heard the phrase, “marry in haste, repent at leisure”, referring to couples who rush into marriage only to find that it is not always a bed of roses.

Choosing a life partner should not be based on a whim. It requires careful consideration. So, too, does choosing staff for your business – especially the first time you hire a staff member.

Of course, this advice is easier to follow in a business that has many employees. It is much more difficult for a micro or small business.   If you have a small business with only one employee and they leave, you must either replace them quickly or do all the work yourself. This is why small businesses need to be crystal clear about who to employ and what to outsource. Prevention is better than cure, which is why your first hire can set the pattern for what happens afterwards.

Early-stage businesses should plan their first hire with extreme care. Creating a proper position description, formulating KPIs (key performance indicators) and KRIs (key results indicators), and determining the chemistry required to work effectively with business owners are essential to getting it right.   Hiring a clone of yourself is generally not a wise option for business owners. You must take a helicopter view of the business and the functions to be performed by the successful candidate. Otherwise, you may end up with the wrong person in the wrong role.

When it comes to hiring staff, you need to:

  1. Create an organisation chart by function.
  2. Decide which functions you want to assign to the new employee.
  3. Prepare the position description and KPIs.
  4. Map the functions on a behavioural map (if you use psychometric testing).
  5. Establish the values you want to see in the employee.

Consider some form of simple test before you select candidates for interview. For example:

  • A business that wants to hire a store person only looks at applications that have been submitted in the candidates’ own handwriting (this is stated in the job advertisement). This is because operational errors are often the result of legibility and literacy issues.
  • Another business insists on a short video of the candidates explaining why they would be a good fit for a role in customer service. This is because the business wants a certain energy in its staff.
  • For a business that has walk-in applicants, the advertisement states that candidates must bring their own pen. No pens are provided for completing the application forms when the candidates arrive.

The point in conducting “tests” like these is to eliminate the applicants who cannot or will not follow simple instructions. They prevent businesses from hiring in haste and repenting later.

Poor hiring decisions are a principal reason why many micro and small businesses fail to grow. I help business owners get clarity on what roles to hire for first and how to do it. Email me at

Sign Up

Get the latest news and info straight to your mailbox.