Small business owners wear many hats. As a serial entrepreneur, who’s latest ventures include writing a book, Appitalize On Your Idea – Bringing Any Idea to Fruition, I know this all too well. No matter the business, you’re the tech support, customer service, financier, owner, operator and doer of all things. In my experience speaking with entrepreneurs across the country, I’ve come across a universal conundrum – when is it the right time to hire someone else?
When evaluating if its time to hire a second employee one must consider a plethora of options. Which hat or hats will I give up to my number two? Can I delegate the right tasks to that person? Am I even capable of relinquishing full-scale universal dominance?
Your first step is to determine what role that second person will take. Will their work be directly correlated with company growth (i.e., a salesperson, marketer or PR person)? Or is there role to take over more of the administrative responsibility and therefore free up your time to contribute to company growth? If the answer is A, that their efforts will directly lead to growth, that’s someone you need. If the answer is B, it’s imperative that you utilize your new free time to grow the company – if you do not, you will most certainly find yourself laying off your new employee and attempting to recover from the months of salary that you laid out for them. As a small business, everyone you hire needs to directly correlate to more revenue. Hiring the right employee for your small business is important.
Once you establish the type of person you need to hire, it then comes down to who you hire. Steve Jobs believed that you should only hire A players. A players will work well with other A players. If you hire a B player now, when it’s time to hire a third person, that B player will hire a C player and your brand and quality will degrade. A strong salesperson will come in and outline specific sales goals. A potential marketer or PR person will present their initial ideas to bring in revenue quickly. Experienced, energetic and creative people tend to cost more, but they also have the highest return on investment.
If you’re not entirely convinced whether you are ready to bring on a number two, an important thing to keep in mind is that hiring a full-time employee is not your only option. There are, in my opinion, four avenues one can take when hiring someone:
- Hire someone full-time.
- Hire someone part-time.
- Hire a Virtual Assistant.
Hire someone full-time:
This is the most costly of the four avenues. Hiring someone full-time requires paperwork, money, insurance – OMG the headaches!!! But in the end those headaches will subside.
Hiring full-time will help you alleviate a lot of your daily tasks. Even hiring someone to be an office assistant/book keeper will allow you to take some of the most mundane tasks off your plate, but you need to decide if the work you have for your newly employed full timer will be enough to warrant having them around. Take one week to analyze all the tasks that you could potentially assign to your new employee. Add up the hours that you have spent on those tasks – do you need someone for 40 hours? Are there new tasks that this person will be working on that can make up the difference? If there isn’t really a full-time employee there, you may want to consider the other three avenues below. If you do have 40 hours worth of work, then it’s time to analyze how you will spend your new found free time. That time can not be wasted. You should be using that time to help sell more business to help get SO busy you need a third person. This process keeps going until you can hire a sales person – then allow you to take that extra time to work on another business (or take a vacation from your small business – whatever that is!). Remember that a full-time employee will be the most vested in your company – they know that their own livelihood depends on the company’s success and the right person will fight hard to help you grow to the next level.
Hire someone part-time:
Maybe there are parts of your business you aren’t good at. Or maybe you are at that point in your job where you are just too bogged down with mundane tasks to get out there and grow, but you don’t have quite enough to delegate to warrant 40 hours per week. A part-time employee can work only the hours that you need them, which can sometimes be a huge benefit. If most of your backlog is in paperwork – invoicing, data entry, research – you can find great professionals looking for work they can do at night or on off hours. If you need the most help with social media and blogging, a college student can do an amazing job keeping everything up to date while you focus on your sales. Utilize part-time employees when the scope of the work is appropriate for one person and an intimate understanding of the full essence of your business is essential to their success.
Hire a subcontractor:
First and foremost, if you are going to sub-contract your business make sure that they sign a sub-contractor agreement that has been approved by your lawyer.
Sub-Contractors are great for when you are in a pinch. Maybe you are super busy right now, but aren’t always. Sub-contract out a few clients and get the job done while you are taking care of other clients. I just hired two sub-contractors for my daily Apple consulting business. It’s a great way for me to tip toe into the pool of hiring employees. You can also use sub-contractors when you really need a team of people to accomplish your goals. Hiring a small social-media company to keep you up-to-date can give you multiple sets of hands for the same price you would have paid for one person exclusively working on your company. Just keep in mind that any sub-contractor you hire is still out there representing you, so whoever you bring on still needs to be an A player.
Hire a Virtual Assistant:
And now for the new era of hired help, the Virtual Assistant (VA). Virtual Assistants are all the rave in inexpensive labor. A VA is exactly what it sounds like, someone who can help you that isn’t physically near you. There are many VA companies that exist around the world, with the biggest in India and Canada. VA’s can handle all sorts of tasks, as long as they are able to be done on the computer. Usually the limitations of VA’s are subjective to things like phone calls or physical interactions. Other than that, VA’s are a great way to get started getting help.
VA’s can do lot of tasks, such as blog posting, formatting, calendar scheduling and even getting recipes for what to make for dinner. When I had a VA, I used him to do research for clients on new products they wanted to purchase. What would have taken me two hours of time, he did in three. Since I charge $150/hour that would have been $300 lost doing this research. Instead, I spent $30 – $40 bucks to have my VA handle the work. While he was researching, I was able to go and work at another client – so I was up by the end of the day and still got everything done. Just remember that unlike a full-time or even part time employee, a VA is not someone who is fully vested in your company. He/she can handle time-sucking tasks, but you should not have them handling anything that is directly client-facing.
The decision to hire someone is tough. A lot of us are on the cusp for years before deciding to make a move. It’s all about taking that step for the right reasons. Young entrepreneurs often make the mistake of thinking that the key to success is to come up with a good idea and then hire people to put it in motion. In reality, you will always be your hardest worker, but you do need other people to grow. Hiring a number two is not for you to take a break from your daily work, it’s so you can get more done. The more you get done the more money you make. The more money you make, the more people you can hire to get more done. The cycle continues. Before long, you (and hopefully I), will be reading blog posts for medium-sized business owners. And big ones.
Justin T. Esgar is a serial entrepreneur, balancing his time between a computer consulting firm, software development and coming up with the next big idea. His latest endeavor is Email Phoenix, a cloud-based backup service for Kerio mail users. In 2013, Justin released his first book – Appitalizing On Your Idea – Bringing Any Idea to Fruition, which is available on Amazon in both Kindle and paperback. Connect with Justin on Twitter at http://twitter.com/justinesgar.