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5 Simple Steps to Hiring Your First Employee

5 Simple Steps to Hiring Your First Employee

It’s awesome to see people creating and growing businesses, particularly when you get to watch them hit certain milestones. Hiring your first employee is one of those milestones. Congratulations!

Whether you’re trying to explode with an innovative tech startup, take your freelancing business to the next level, or anything in between, you’re eventually going to have to hire someone to keep growing.

Don’t worry, it’s not that arduous of a process. Just follow these five simple steps to hiring your first employee!

1. Determine what kind of hire you need.

Do you need a part-time employee, someone to work with you full-time, or someone to whom you can contract out projects and assignments as needed? Maybe you already know the answer. If you’re not sure, answer these three questions first.

How much work is there?

How much work would you be able to give them right now? Another way to phrase this is: How much would you be able to take off your plate, so that you can focus on work only you can do?

How much work will there be?

How much does your new hire need to grow with you? Are you trying to scale? Is the work you’re hiring your first employee to do something you have little-to-no experience in? How important will this person be to you?

How will this affect you financially?

How will choosing a part-time employee, full-time employee, or contract worker affect your finances, tax planning, etc.? Regulations differ between employees and contractors, with an easy differentiator being whether or not you control their schedule.

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It will be best for you to review the IRS’s comparison of independent contractors and employees to better understand the best choice for your situation.

Once you’re able to take a firm stand on which kind of hire you need, then you get to do the most fun job of all!

2. Take care of the paperwork.

Some of this you’ll need to do before you hire, and some of it after. Paperwork is generally everyone’s worst nightmare, but if you take it one step at a time, it doesn’t have to be that bad.

If you’re hiring an independent contractor, things are rather simple. You’ll only need to worry about three forms.

  • Independent Contractor Agreement: This is a form that lays out your professional relationship, ownership of work, and other legal jargon.
  • Form W-9: This is a request for the contractor’s tax ID (or SSN), which is crucial for everyone’s records and payments.
  • Form 1099-Misc.: If you’re going to pay your independent contractor more than $600/yr (likely), then you’ll need to submit this for your end of year tax filings.

If you go on to hire an actual employee, everything changes. It’s not more difficult, per se, but you certainly have more responsibility. Here’s what you’ll need to do.

  • Get an EIN (Employer Identification Number) from the IRS
  • Create records for withholding employee taxes
  • Verify your employee’s eligibility to work in the U.S.
  • Report that you’ve hired an employee to your state
  • Get workers’ compensation insurance (requirements vary by state)
  • Post certain required notices/posters in your office that explain relevant laws

For more information on each of these steps, and a complete guide on how to file your business taxes, click here.

Hiring an independent contractor is probably looking good right about now, but that’s not always the best fit. Before making any assumptions, be sure to review point #1 and the linked guides.

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3. Create a job posting.

How should you approach your job posting?

First things first, you and any partners you have need to know what you’re looking for. If you’re not entirely sure, or if your group can’t come to an agreement, try answering these questions.

  • What’s currently your biggest pain point? What could be done to alleviate that pain point?
  • What will be your biggest pain point in six months? What will you need to do to alleviate that pain point?
  • Would you need your hire to more frequently follow a list of instructions, or have autonomy in their work?
  • Will their duties be more task-oriented, creative, project-oriented, or strategic?
  • What interaction will your hire have with you and/or any partners you have?

Once you’ve answered these questions, then you’re ready to craft a job description. Your job description should include:

  • A description of your company
  • A description of your ideal candidate
  • Key or primary duties
  • Less frequent responsibilities
  • Targeted compensation range and any benefits

How should you present your opportunity?

You might hear recommendations to focus on keywords, which many interpret to mean “use a lot of buzzwords.” Don’t do that. Instead, focus on accurately representing your company.

If you’re a trendy creative agency run by a few twenty-somethings, mirror your job description to that personality. If you’re a private practice lawyer looking for a secretary, act like it.

The degree to which you should be professional or casual in a job description depends on the degree to which you are professional or casual in your work.

Now you need to post that job description. Uploading it to Proven will automatically post it to all the major job boards, like Monster, Indeed, and 100+ others. Then you’ll get any responses aggregated through Proven instead of having to go to every individual job posting site.

It’s also a best practice to share your job posting across Facebook, LinkedIn and other social networking sites. After all, you’ll probably trust a friendly referral over a stranger’s application.

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4. Conduct the right interviews.

Once you start talking to candidates who meet your criteria, I’ll trust that you know enough about your business and the personalities involved to make the right choice. But here are a few tips for what might be your first time interviewing people.

Don’t talk about these things.

There are a handful of questions you need to stay away from for legal reasons, like those relating to age, marital status, arrests, sexual orientation, mental health, religion, and race.

Basically, stay away from everything people would recommend avoiding during a dinner conversation.

If you get into these topics and choose not to hire that candidate, you could be on the chopping block for discrimination. No one wants that.

For a full breakdown, refer to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Confirm compensation.

Make sure you and your candidate are in the same ballpark regarding compensation. If those expectations are not met first, everything else is liable to fall apart.

That’s why it’s important to have this information in your job posting, and why you should confirm you’re on the same page early on.

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Ask either of these two questions.

What would be your ideal situation? Or, what are you looking for in your next step?

Either of these questions should help you to flush out whether your candidate is spewing whatever they think you want to hear to get the job, or if the two of you would actually be a good fit.

A good follow up question could be: What would be a deal breaker for you?

On one hand, you can see if there’s going to be tension with this hire in the role you need. On the other hand, you get to see if they actually know what they want.

5. Take your pick.

If you’re following these simple steps to hiring your first employee, then you have so far decided what’s best for you, completed the appropriate paperwork, put the word out about your opportunity, and spoken with several candidates.

Now all you have to do is actually hire someone! (And finish the appropriate paperwork; see point #2.)

Running a business is a difficult process, and finding the right personnel can be a big stressor. How do you find the right people? How do you make sure your own tail is safe come tax season? But this doesn’t have to be that stressful. Just follow these simple steps to hiring your first employee, and you’ll be good to go!

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Kenneth Burke

Director of Marketing

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Last Updated on February 11, 2021

10 Secrets of Making Every Presentation Fun, Engaging, and Enjoyable

10 Secrets of Making Every Presentation Fun, Engaging, and Enjoyable

Not a lot of people are good at public speaking. You could even say that virtually everyone needs to get some practice, and preferably good guidance, before they can learn to stay calm when facing a room full of people. Having all eyes on you is an uncomfortable experience and it takes time to get used to. However, even if you can manage to control your stage fright and stay focused, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your presentation won’t put people to sleep. This is usually the case with long presentations on a very dull subject, with the presenter speaking in a monotone voice and dimming the lights to play a PowerPoint presentation.

You have to work hard to develop the right skills

If you want to be remembered and actually get people engaged, you need to make your presentation fun and enjoyable, without coming off as corny or desperate to please. I know, it doesn’t sound that easy at all! A good presentation during a promotional event or given to an important client can be a game changer for your business, so it is easy to get stressed out and fail to perform all that well. Luckily, giving an interesting lecture is something that can be practiced and perfected. There is plenty of advice out there on the topic, but let’s look at the most important aspects of giving a memorable and fun presentation.

1. Make your presentation short and sweet

With very long, meandering speeches you tend to lose the audience pretty early on, and from then on out it’s just a test of endurance for the few bravest listeners. Not only will people’s attention start to drop rapidly after sitting and listening to you talk for 30 minutes, but you also risk watering down your core ideas and leaving your audience with little in the way of key phrases and important bits of information to take away from the whole ordeal. Famous speakers throughout history have known the importance of condensing the information by using well thought out sentences and short phrases loaded with meaning.

JFK’s famous: ”It’s not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” expresses so much in very few words and gets the audience thinking. Ancient Spartans, for example were famous for their quick, dry wit, often demolishing their opponent’s argument with a single word or phrase. You’ll want to channel that ancient spirit and be as concise as possible when preparing your presentation.

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2. Open up with a good ice breaker

At the beginning, you are new to the audience. There is no rapport, no trust and the atmosphere is fairly neutral. Even if some of the people there know you personally, the concept of you as an authority on a particular matter giving a speech will be foreign to them. The best way to encourage a warm and friendly atmosphere is to get some kind of emotional response out of the audience right at the beginning. It doesn’t matter what emotion it is, you just need to connect with them on a more personal level. It can be shock, curiosity, laughter, knowing smirks, nervousness – whatever gets them out of that initial feeling of indifference. There are different kinds of effective ice-breakers, but generally speaking, the most successful ones utilize one of these tactics:

  • Joking
  • Tugging on their heart strings
  • Dropping a bombastic statement
  • Telling an interesting and relevant anecdote
  • Using a metaphor or drawing comparisons

You can make a small, self-deprecating comment, stir the presentation one way and then suddenly surprise the audience, use sarcasm, open up with a short childhood story that taught you a lesson, quote a famous person and elaborate on it from personal experience, use an inspirational anecdote or hit them with a bit of nostalgia. Just remember to keep it short and move on once you’ve gotten a reaction.

3. Keep things simple and to the point

Once you’re done warming up the crowd you can ease them into the core concepts and important ideas that you will be presenting. Keep the same presentation style thoughout. If you’ve started off a bit ironic, using dry wit, you can’t just jump into a boring monologue. If you’ve started off with a bang, telling a couple of great little jokes and getting the crowd riled up, you have to keep them happy by throwing in little jokes here and there and being generally positive and energetic during the presentation. You need a certain structure that you won’t deviate too far from at any point. A good game plan consists of several important points that need to be addressed efficiently. This means moving on from one point to another in a logical manner, coming to a sound conclusion and making sure to accentuate the key information.

4. Use a healthy dose of humor

Some of the best speeches and presentations in the world, which have been heard and viewed by millions, all feature plenty of humor. No matter the subject, a great speaker will use natural charisma, humor and beautiful language to convey their points and get the crowd excited about what they are saying. A great example of building rapport with the audience through the use of humor is Barrack Obama talking about the government building Iron Man.

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It is silly and fun, and absolutely not something that you would expect from a man in a position of power speaking in such a serious setting – and it’s exactly why it works. The more serious the situation and the bigger the accent on proper social behavior, the harder your jokes will hit.

5. Try to tell a story instead of ranting

Some people can do all of the above things right and still manage to turn their short and fun little presentation into a chaotic mess of information. You don’t want your speech to look like you just threw a bunch of information in a blender in no particular order. To avoid rambling, create a strong structure. Start with the ice breaker, introduce the core concepts and your goals briefly, elaborate on the various points in a bit more detail, draw logical conclusions and leave your audience with a clear takeaway message. You want to flow naturally from one part to the next like you are telling a big story chapter by chapter.

6. Practice your delivery

Standing in front of the mirror and practicing a speech or presentation is a technique as old as mirrors – well, come to think of it, as old as human speech, since you can see yourself reflected in any clear and calm body of water – and that means that it is tried and true. The theory is incredibly simple, yet the real problem is actually putting in the effort day in and day out. Work on your posture, your tone of voice, accent, pauses between sentences and facial expressions. The most important thing is to talk slowly and loudly enough to be heard and understood clearly. Many famous speakers, such as Demosthenes and King George VI, overcame speech impediments through hard work.

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7. Move around and use your hands

Although you won’t instill confidence in your project if you are very jittery, moving around erratically, not knowing what to do with your hands and making fast movements, standing dead still can be just as bad. You shouldn’t be afraid to use your arms and hands when talking as it makes you seem more passionate and confident. The same goes for moving around and taking up some space. However, try to make slower, calculated and deliberate movements. You want your movements to seem powerful, yet effortless. You can achieve this through practice.

8. Engage the audience by making them relate

Sometimes you will lose the audience somewhat in techno-babble, numbers, graphs and abstract ideas. At that point it is important to reel them back in using some good, old-fashioned storytelling. Make comparisons to events from everyday life that most people are more than familiar with. By making things look simple, not only will you help your audience get a better understanding of the subject by enabling them to visualize the information more clearly, you will also draw a connection between you. After all, you are all just regular people with similar experience, you just happen to be performing different roles at the moment.

9. Use funny images in your slides

Although slides are not really necessary at all times, if you do need them to make your point and present your information more effectively, it’s best to liven them up. They say that facts aren’t always black and white, and your presentation should reflect this. Add a bit of color, make the information stand out and use an interesting animation to switch from slide to slide. You can use the slides to add some more humor, both in terms of the text and the images. An image that is used to elicit a positive response needs to be funny within the context of what you are discussing. For example, if you are discussing the topic of authority, an image of Eric Cartman from South Park in a police uniform, demanding that you respect his “authoritah,” is a nice way to have a bit of fun and lighten things up.

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10. End on a more serious note

When all is said and done you will want the audience to remember the core concepts and keep thinking about what you have said after the presentation is over. This is why you should let things naturally calm down and end with an important idea, quote or even a question. Plant a seed in their mind and make them think. Let us turn to Patrick Henry for a great way to end a speech: “Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.”

As you can see, there is quite a bit to learn when it comes to giving a good presentation, one that is both memorable and fun. Be sure to work on your skills tirelessly and follow in the footsteps of great orators.

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

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