It's time to hire your first employee

Here’s how to do it

As if starting a new business weren’t scary enough, the next step is to grow it by hiring someone. Here’s a step-by-step guideline that will make the process less scary.

GET YOUR DUCKS IN A ROW - and be realistic about it

    It’s really not that scary. And organisations such as Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator are there to hold your hand through the process when you’re ready to take the plunge.
  • Have you got the cash flow to pay an employee on time, every time? You can’t hire unless you’re sure you can pay.
  • Be specific about what you want help with or you’ll have an undirected resource and expense floating around your business. Make a list of the tasks you want to hand over – you’ll be amazed at how this clarifies your thinking.
  • Do you need someone full-time or part-time? When you work out how long it would take to complete the tasks you’ve listed, factor in training time and their learning curve.

START THE PROCESS – it’s easier than you think

  • Write a job description from the list of tasks you’ve already created. Be clear, accurate and specific. 

  • Identify how you would like to recruit, either through a recruitment specialist or an advertisement. Be specific about the qualifications, skills and experience you want. Remember that hiring a staff member, especially if it’s the first person you’re bringing into your business, is as much about their attitude as about their abilities. Certain qualities are just as important as a degree or experience: a can-do attitude, enthusiasm, discipline, humour and a willingness to learn.
  • Prepare to interview candidates. Their perception of you is just as important as yours of them so make sure you’ve got a clear and concise sales pitch. You read that right – you’ve got to sell the company just as you would to a potential customer.
  • In a large business, someone who is not pulling their weight is not so obvious. In a small business, they will be obvious immediately and can have a hugely negative impact. Be clear on the role of the employee and their potential impact on the business. 
  • Do your due diligence. Check the candidate's ID, proof of education and qualifications, proof of previous employment if any, and references, including phone numbers. It’s essential to check whether the candidate is able to access transport to get to work. Are there any checks that need to be done in your business sector, such as police clearance? If so, don’t hire without first doing them!
  • Make sure you comply with employment law. You need a formal offer letter and a formal employment contract – did you know that people are less likely to leave a company on a whim if they have an employment contract in place? Harambee offers clients a free HR toolkit and you can get standard templates online which you adapt to suit you. A word of warning: don’t include anything in the contract that you don’t understand! 

BRACE YOURSELF – your life is about to change, ultimately for the better!

  • Start by bringing the candidate on board properly. Remember they will be nervous initially so be gentle.
  • It might seem obvious but it’s important to prepare a proper workspace before your newbie arrives. You can’t expect someone to feel they belong if you don’t give them a space to belong: they need their own desk, chair and supplies.
  • It might be just the two of you, but welcome your new staff memeber formally and give them a proper induction into your business. Clarify expectations, go through their role again, be clear about what training and support is available and when it will happen, make sure they know where everything is and how it works, introduce them formally to customers, suppliers and neighbours, etc.
  • Here comes the hard part: delegate. And trust. You’ve got to do it!
  • Make sure you include a probationary period – usually three months. Manage this by scheduling regular feedback and review sessions. Start with what they’re doing well, then get into what they need to improve. You can’t provide constructive feedback if you haven’t given clear guidelines to begin with… but you knew that, right?

It’s really not that scary. And organisations such as Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator are there to hold your hand through the process when you’re ready to take the plunge.

Are you looking for fresh, young employees to join your SME?

Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator, which connects young people looking for their first job with employers looking for entry-level staff, is dedicated to matching small businesses with staff that are the right fit for your business. It also conducts carefully considered assessments so you don’t have to worry about the initial screening of candidates.

Harambee also offers a free HR Toolkit, which includes everything you need to come to grips with your HR policies and procedures. You can access the toolkit at

If you’d to find out more, or would like a copy of the HR Toolkit, get in touch with them on or 011 593 0505. Candidates can register for free on