How to know when you’re ready to hire

Small business owner hiring new employees

This article is based on research for our recent eGuide, A small business guide to making your first hires.

Thinking about hiring, but not sure if you’re ready? You’re not alone. Hiring new employees is a huge step for any small business owner – especially considering the average cost to hire a new team member is over $6,000. But if you’re bringing on someone new before you’re ready, these costs can add up even more.

To avoid wasting any money (or time!), it’s important to make absolutely sure that you’re ready to hire. Here are six questions to ask yourself before hiring new employees.

First, you need to determine whether you actually need to make a hire:

1. What are my goals as a small business?

Especially in the early years, a small business’ hiring plans should align closely with its overall goals. What are you looking to achieve in the next year? Are you looking to expand? Are you looking to boost your brand awareness? Are you looking to launch a new product? Knowing your goals will help you to clearly identify your hiring needs.

2. Am I missing skills or knowledge that are crucial to my business?

Small business owners are known for doing it all. But as your company grows, it’s likely going to require skills or talents that can’t be learned overnight. If you’re lacking technical or niche skills (like coding, for example, or grant writing), it might be time to hire an expert you can trust to get the job done.

3. Can I afford to hire someone?

This is an important consideration before you get too deep into the hiring process: do you have the budget and resources to hire and retain someone new? One thing to remember: if you need to fill a skill or knowledge gap, but don’t have the resources for a full-time hire, there are other options to consider – more on that below.

Next, you need to ascertain whether you have all the information to start the process:

4. Can I define the role?

If you’re overwhelmed with work, but aren’t sure what could be off-loaded to another person, consider putting your hiring plans on hold until you can clearly identify day-to-day tasks that could define a new role. “You might not be ready to hire if you don’t have a clear idea what the job entails, and you’re not absolutely confident that it is a full-time job, or could be structured effectively as a part-time job,” says Edwin Jansen of Fitzii, a small business hiring platform provider based in Toronto.

5. Are my expectations realistic?

If you’re looking for a bookkeeper-slash-receptionist-slash-marketing expert, you’re probably not ready to hire. “We sometimes see business owners imagining that a person can do two or three different jobs. If those two or three roles are not complimentary, that can be a sign you shouldn’t hire,” says Jansen.

Finally, you need to understand your options: 

6. What kind of hire makes the most sense for my needs?

In the changing landscape of the world of work, there are an increasing number of options:

  • Permanent full-time or part-time (an ongoing role with no defined end date)
  • Full-time or part-time fixed term contract (a role with a defined end date)
  • Seasonal work
  • Co-op student or paid intern
  • Temporary employment agency contracts
  • Self-employed contractors or consultants

Depending on your needs, budget, industry, and type of work, one or more of the above options might be a good fit. Hiring non-permanent staff is also a good way to learn more about your business needs, before committing to a full-time hire.

Once you have answers to these six questions, you can make an informed decision about hiring new employees.

Remember: get our free eGuide, A small business guide to making your first hires, for a step-by-step guide to recruiting, screening, hiring, and onboarding your next superstar employee.

See also:
Hiring without an HR team: 11 time-saving recruiting tricks
Why your small business needs a recruitment process


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