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Q & A – Small Business Hiring

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At a recent Small Business event, a founder – let’s call him Jeffrey – shared a concern that his small business has grown to the point where he would need to hire some help, but worried that he wouldn’t hire the right kind of person. In reading about all the mistakes that entrepreneurs and startups make, he noted bad hires are always high on the list. What could he do to minimize the risk?

After congratulating Jeffrey on a problem most of us would welcome, I began thinking about the process that I would recommend he use to develop a clear idea of what his new hire would look like – not in the physical sense, but in the skills and experience sense.


The starting point is determining the kind of position that will be filled. Will it be technical, administrative, operational etc.? Jeffrey should make a list of the tasks he does on a regular basis and flag those that keep him from developing his core business. When grouped together, do they fall into a general job category – i.e. office administration, sales/marketing, shipping/receiving etc.? If so, then the path to a new hire is pretty straightforward – advertise, interview, qualify, and hire.

Since things are seldom this simple, the functions that Jeffrey needs to have done probably cross over multiple job categories. In this case, he might consider looking for a Jack-Of-All-Trades type that has the potential to grow into a Managerial role as the company grows.

The second list is an internal inventory that Jeffrey needs to take of his own core skills and capabilities and compare that to how he expects his role to change as his company grows. Perhaps the help Jeffrey needs is in taking over some of the core business functions as he himself grows into a team builder and business leader.


As a Small Business grows and evolves founders and employees alike need to grow and evolve as well. Steve Jobs was fired from the company that he founded and he is not alone in that club. The perfect employees at the micro enterprise stage may not be the right employees as the years pass.

by Ellie Trautman



For a list of legal requirements here’s a link to the Small Business Administration’s article on hiring your first employee, Hire Your First Employee.


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