As a micro-business owner, there's nothing as scary as employing another person in your business.
Five years ago in a different life, I employed three people, two full time and one part time. Suzanne and I made five. It was a happy team. Well I thought it was. When I had to make two posts redundant it absolutely broke my heart. I cried more than they. I'll never forget their faces or my feeling of despair and utter failure.
One of those ladies claimed that I didn't make her redundant but in fact unfairly dismissed her, a complete lie that saw me and the team end up in court having to sit through the worst day of my working life. The 9 months or so before that were pretty painful too.
I swore never to employ again. I'd collaborate with brilliant consultants who couldn't let me down as their own reputations were at stake. I'd offer work experience placements but nothing more than that. And I was happy with my resolve.
And then Alexandra bounced her way into the Sparkle office. She approached me for a work experience placement. She'd decided not to go back to University as it wasn't for her. Brave I thought. Not the norm. Go on then. A work experience placement with no promises of anything more.
Over the next three months, Alex worked hard to prove herself. She grafted. She turned up for meetings all excited and bouncy. She had reams of plans; for tweets, Pinterest posts, blogs, anything that could be of use. She researched. She learned. She set herself targets. She proofed content (better than me) and whatever was asked of her, she did more.
But most of all, even though she's had little direction from me (purposefully) she's proven that she is committed and can think for herself. Being able to fend for yourself at work in a micro-business is the one trait that every employee needs to have. The business owners are so entirely busy and consumed making everything work, that taking time out to train someone else is exhausting.
So what have I learned over the last three months? I'm not the only one who Sparkles! Alex radiates. She is a pleasure to have around and she has restored my faith, not just in young people but in realising that although my business can never be as important to someone else as it is to me, there are other people who truly value their own integrity and want to work hard.
She's already planning to run her own business. And she will be Sparkling when she does. In the meantime, I'll teach her everything I know and make sure to support her for as long as she needs it. She is my Mini Sparkler and it says so on her business card.
And a word to the wise, if you are going to employ anyone in your small business, get all the proper paperwork drawn up. Pay the money. Behave as a very large business would do. Take it seriously as you never know what may happen.
On that, a great big shout out to Nicole Thompson from NMT HR Services for providing me with great HR advice and all the paperwork we needed.
So welcome Alex to Digital Sparkles, I'm thrilled you changed my mind.