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How to Nail Your First Hire with a Standout Job Description

Aug 23, 2023
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If sales in your online course, coaching business, membership or service business have been steadily increasing, you might be thinking it’s time to make that first hire in your online business. Thinking about hiring help in your business can be daunting. There’s so much to think about and so many questions swirling around in your head it might feel easier to keep going the way you have been, doing all of the work yourself, instead of taking the bold step to hire someone. A great place to start when you’re getting ready to hire is to identify what positions or positions you will create in your business. By approaching your first hire strategically, you will be able to build out the kind and size of team that you want for your business. As your business develops down the road, you can always revisit the positions you set up initially if they are no longer serving you. 


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Some questions to ask yourself when you’re getting ready to make that first hire are: What tasks am I going to delegate? How much time do these tasks take?  What will this person be responsible for in my business? Do I have comprehensive standard operating procedures (SOPs) in place that my new team members can follow? By strategically answering these questions you’ll find yourself well on your way to making your first (and next) hire a successful one.  


How to Determine What Tasks to Delegate to a New Team Member


If you are getting to the stage in your online business where you are finding that you don’t have time to do everything, or you want to free up time to do more strategic work in your business, you need to take a step back and figure out what you are actually doing. This may seem counterintuitive - after all, you are hiring someone because you’re barely keeping your head above water, or you just don't want to spend as much time on your business as you are currently doing. However, if you take the time to really analyze what you are doing, you’ll be able to determine what you can and should delegate, what you should keep on your own plate, and how many different team members you might need to accomplish your goals. You may not be able to outsource everything you want all at once, but you will be able to put a strategic plan in place. Identifying the role your team member will play is an important one for your business. How you define the role for your first team member will help you as you move forward and expand your team in the future. 


The first step to create a job description for your new hire is to keep track of the tasks that you are doing, which you believe you could outsource. Start to think about the tasks that you do that are not unique to your skills or expertise in your business. These are likely going to be tasks that you can outsource to someone else. You may find that many of these tasks are intertwined with tasks that only you can perform, and we’ll cover how to deal with that later in this post. For example, if you write a weekly blog, you may need to be the one to do any required research and write the blog. However, posting the blog, locating images for the blog and creating the SEO for the blog may be tasks that someone else could do for you. 


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Repeat this step for other recurring tasks in your business.  For example, if you send a weekly email to your list, what are the tasks that happen end to end in that process.  Which of these tasks are unique to you, and which of these tasks could be handled by someone else. If you batch your work, you may need to pull out the different components of a single project from the different batch sessions.  For example, you may write several blogs on one day, and on another day upload them to your website.  You’ll need to track all of this so you have the complete blog process captured all as one project. 


Track Your Time Inside of Your Various Projects


As you are identifying these recurring tasks in your business, start keeping track of how long, on average, it takes you to complete each task. Doing this will accomplish a few things for you. By tracking how much time it takes you to complete the various tasks you want to outsource, you’ll have an idea of what it will cost you to hire someone to do this work. I think we are often surprised by how long it takes us to complete various tasks when we actually track it. You’ll also be able to manage expectations better with your new team member because you’ll be allocating the right amount of time to complete various projects for you. 


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As you are tracking your time to complete various tasks within a project, be detailed but don’t go crazy breaking down the time for each individual step. Try to break it down into categories or buckets of tasks. For example, if the project is writing a blog, you might break it down into research, writing, editing, locating images, uploading the text to your website, formatting the text on your website, uploading images, creating SEO and scheduling publication. Your steps might vary, depending on the platform you use to host your website and blog. With each of these tasks, you can put the time it takes to complete these tasks.  Some tasks, like research, writing and editing might have a range for the time as some blogs end up taking less time to write than others. 


Write Your SOPs


Now that you have all of the tasks needed to complete a project and the time it takes to complete each project, you’ll want to write a standard operating procedure (SOP) for that project. The SOP is going to be like a user-manual for the project. It should be written out step by step, identify the approximate time it takes to complete, where the resources are located that are needed to complete the tasks (for example folders where you keep drafts of your blog) and whether this is an executive function (to be performed by you) or one that you can delegate to a team member. As you are creating your SOPs, even if you are not ready to delegate certain tasks just yet, think about which ones you could delegate and label them. This will help you later on when you are ready to outsource some of your work.  


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Your SOPs should read like a detailed instruction manual. As you write them out, think about asking a complete stranger to go through the entire process you’ve outlined in your SOP.  Would they have sufficient details to complete everything? Once you start thinking about all of the adjustments that you make when you are completing tasks, you’ll realize there is much more detail required than you may have initially thought. For example, if you use Canva to create graphics, when you download an image for your website, you need to adjust the default from a .png file to a .jpeg file to optimize your page speed, which helps with your SEO.  This is a detail you’ll want to include in your SOP so that if you outsource this task, the person working for you will know that this is an important step in the process. 


Write Your Job Description


Now that you’ve identified all of the tasks within a project, figured out how much time each task takes you and created a detailed SOP, you’re ready to write a job description for your first hire. On the first draft of your job description you can keep a list of all of the tasks, and then on subsequent rounds of editing you may find that you can group similar tasks together under a single category, or you can identify a category and then provide examples of the kinds of tasks that fall into that category. 


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Your job description should be detailed enough that it includes all the categories of tasks required, but not so detailed that it lists every step the person will perform while doing their job. The job description should also communicate the anticipated number of hours required each week to perform the job. You’ll have a realistic sense of this because you calculated this as part of creating the job description. You’ll also want to add some flavor and spice to your job description by indicating the type of industry you work in and how this role fits into your overall company. After all, you want the person you are going to hire to be interested in helping you do your work. You should also note any special qualifications.  For example, do you use a platform like Kajabi, where it will be important that your new hire has experience navigating this platform. If there are any special requirements, for example, certain tasks need to be performed on a certain day of the week, this should be specified in the description. If you only need something completed by a certain day of the week, this can be outlined as part of the SOP for the project. 


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Consider Multiple Roles Instead of One Role to Perform Multiple Tasks 


Here’s where things could get a bit tricky. As you write the job description, you need to consider what kind of candidate with what kind of background would have all or most of the skills you are looking for to perform the tasks you’ve identified in your job description. Are the tasks that you’ve identified within a single skill set, for example one that you would expect a skilled virtual assistant (VA) to have? Or are the skills needed broader and more specialized, for example specialized funnel tech stacking, bookkeeping or copywriting? It’s important to remember that you are not hiring another solopreneur to fill different roles in your business. It’s unlikely that you’ll find a single person with a broad cross-section of skills, or who is willing to perform such a variety of tasks for the pay you are willing to offer.  


As an example, let’s say that you’d like to outsource updates to your website (blog posts, weekly email blasts, technical corrections to your website).  These skills are likely sourced in a single, qualified VA that is familiar with your website hosting platform.  However, if you add to that list of tasks drafting copy for sales pages and social media posts, you are going to be far less likely to find a person with this combined skill set. Or, if you find a person with all of these skills the cost to engage them might be more than you had budgeted to pay. 


Expecting too much from a single team member without the necessary skills can backfire in other ways as well. Your new team member is likely going to be frustrated if you are asking them to perform tasks that are outside of their skillset.  Most people who take on a new role want to do great work and succeed at the position. If that person is stretched too thin or asked to do too many different tasks it’s going to be hard for them to feel fulfilled in the role. By asking for a single person to do too many things you may also be making requests outside the scope of their job description or contract. This will put a strain on your relationship and create frustration for both you and your team members. 


Once you start creating your SOPs and then your job descriptions, you may find that you need to hire more than one person to perform all of the tasks you’d like to outsource. This may be a challenging realization as you may have only budgeted for one person to do a few hours of work for you. Between identifying how long your tasks actually take and the skills needed to perform them your hiring needs may look different than you initially thought. You can still start to outsource, but you may need to do this in stages. You might start by outsourcing the tasks that are the most repetitive. If you’ve never worked with a team member or been in a manager-type role before, this will be an excellent way to get some additional managerial skills. Outsourcing work isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it proposition, and although you technically don’t manage the work of independent contractors you do still manage the final product and you’ll need to develop and maintain excellent communication skills so that you receive the product you are expecting from your team.  


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Set Your New Team Member Up For Success


By following the roadmap laid out above, you’ll be able to set up your first hire for success. You’ll have identified your executive level tasks that only you can do, as well as the tasks you can easily delegate. You’ll know how much time it takes to complete the tasks you want to delegate so you can budget for your first hire accordingly. You’ll have written SOPs for your projects so that you and your new team member can easily locate the folders and assets to implement your repetitive processes, and important steps won’t be missed. 


It’s important to remember that as business owners we don’t always get it right the first time. Sometimes there needs to be some trial and error, and fixing things that seemed like they would work, but in reality do not. All of this is okay! But you will be off to a great start and will grow your team to where you want it to be, for your business. 

If you’re hiring an independent contractor, you’ll want to make sure that you have an independent contractor agreement in place. You can purchase an Independent Contractor Customizable Template in my Step Up Your Legal™ template shop.