So you have launched your small business and have grown to the point that you need employees. How do you go from being a solo entrepreneur to a successful employer?
The first thing you need to do is figure out what the job looks like. What tasks will the employee be responsible for? What skills are needed to accomplish the tasks? Is the position going to be full-time or part-time? Hourly wage or salary? Writing a job description is a task few entrepreneurs enjoy, but it really is helpful.
Next, educate yourself on employment laws. You don't need to be an expert, but you do need to understand the basics and you do need an expert to help you navigate all the complexities. The IRS has a good site to learn the basics. Publication 15 (Circular E) is a good place to start.
We recommend using a payroll processor or hiring an expert to get your payroll system set up properly. Training on how to file and pay payroll taxes is a must if you are going to process and file payroll taxes yourself. The federal government takes payroll taxes very seriously (seemingly more so than income taxes) so it is important to take this job seriously. Many small business owners fail to understand that taxes withheld from an employee's check are his/her money and not submitting the taxes to the appropriate authority is considered theft. It is often best to leave the whole processing of payroll and filing of taxes up to the experts and this frees up an entrepreneur's time for revenue generating tasks. There are many big processors like Paychex and SurePay as well as small local providers. Some provide portals where the business can enter hours and then the processor handles the rest. While many small business owners are loathe to spend money on outside services, this in an area where you don't want to make mistakes as they can be costly to the point of sinking a business.
Another issue to be dealt with as an employer are the tasks a human resources department deals with for larger companies. There are many service providers who can handle this for a small business on an outsourced basis and we do recommend having someone like this as a resource. There are many things you legally cannot ask a job applicant and many business owners are not aware of these questions and limitations. Understanding laws surrounding the hiring process, maternity leave, family illness, drug testing, and termination routines can prevent actions which can result in painful lawsuits for a small business owner.
Once you have found the right employee, you will want to take the time to properly train him/her. Again, it is helpful to put together an organized, thoughtful training program. Well trained employees make fewer mistakes and are happier than those thrown into a job. Having regular performance reviews may sound tedious, but they give both the employer and employee the chance to connect and problem solve.
How do you become a successful employer? Do your homework, hire an expert to get you started strong and take the time to find, train and retain the right employee.