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Time. We never have enough of it.
While it’s true for everyone, never having enough time is an especially common problem for entrepreneurs. If you’ve ever owned your own small business, consulting firm, or done freelance work, you know that your time is a precious thing. Besides doing your primary work, you may also double as your own accountant, lawyer, IT professional, sales person, and customer support rep. It’s tricky to juggle so many things, but it’s also part of the fun.
That said, you can’t run a successful small business by working more and more hours every week. Your company’s growth will be limited by your time, and you’ll be at a high risk for entrepreneurial burnout. The only way to get more done is to learn to delegate your work, but hiring someone new is a big risk.
Here are some things to consider before you bring on a new team member.
Evaluate Your Strategies
So, before you get it in your head that you need to hire someone, take stock in what you’re spending your time on. For example, if you’ve spent 40 hours on LinkedIn groups marketing your service in the past month, but have seen no new customers, maybe it’s time to rethink your approach?
Don’t get me wrong, I love social media, but with so many networks and strategies out there, it can be a real time suck. Make sure that you stay active, but don’t let it consume you. It’s better to own up to a poor business strategy than to kill your company proving that it will eventually work.
What Do You Need To Do, And What Could Someone Else Do?
Once you’ve charted out where you’re spending your time, it’s time to figure out where you still need a little help. Maybe you spend 10 hours per week training your clients or performing basic customer service. Couldn’t your time be better spent making new sales or up-selling your current clients on new services instead?
Generally speaking, you want to focus on the areas that add the most direct value to your company. You should be the one going to conferences, making new sales, and managing projects; let someone else make copies, send faxes, and bill clients. All these small tasks chip away at your day, and most can be outsourced for much less than your time is worth.
You may want to consider hiring a college or high school student to help you out with some of these less challenging, but time-intensive tasks every week. For example, I used to pay a college student $12 per hour to do my laundry and ironing every week. He was happy because he just wanted some quick cash for beer money, and it gave me 4-5 extra hours each week to work on adding value to my business.
Watch Your Cash Flow
In a small company, cash flow is king. You don’t want to send your business (or yourself) into an ocean of debt just because you felt the need to hire someone you couldn’t really afford.
Make sure that you’ve got consistent income that will cover your new employee’s paycheck or use a commission-based system so that they are fairly paid for work that brings your company a known value.
Avoid hiring people for the sake of hiring people. Your business is a business, and not a charity. Hiring someone is expensive, and firing them six months later is even more expensive. Try to find a third party service to step in and act as an extra set of hands for you rather than go through the new employee process.
Find The Right “Level” Of Employee
If you’ve decided that it’s absolutely necessary to bring someone else onto your team, start with a part-time intern or contractor. Unless you have a lot of luck or you know an excellent candidate personally, bringing someone in on a part-time basis can prevent a lot of headaches down the road. If you do go this route, you should realize that they are likely hoping to move into a full-time position someday. Be up front with them, and don’t lead them to believe this temporary position will be something more than it really is.
Running your own business is a rewarding but often stressful experience. You may love your work being self-employed, but if you’re spending 80 hours per week on it, a burnout is inevitable. Sometimes making a new hire is your best bet.
Have you ever hired a new employee or even a personal assistant? Tell me about your experience in the comments!