Hiring Employees

When to Hire Help and Who to Hire - Part One

Written by Celeste Heiter for Gaebler Ventures

Questions for independent business people, sole proprietors, and freelancers to ask themselves when they are in need of help to keep their businesses running smoothly, efficiently, and profitably. Part one of a two part article.

There's a certain freedom and simplicity in working alone.

When to Hire Help and Who to Hire  Part One

Whether you're the owner of a boutique, a professional with a small office, an independent service provider, a writer, artist or artisan, being in full charge of the way your business operates and how you spend your days can be both profitable and satisfying. However, if all your hard work has paid off and you've managed to develop a successful business on your own, it's highly likely that at some point, you're going to need some help. After all, you can only be in one place at a time, and there are only twenty-four hours in a day. But if you're accustomed to sailing solo and being the captain of your ship, as well as chief cook and bottle washer, taking on an extra crew member can present a challenge. So what kind of help do you hire? Here are some important questions to ask yourself before hiring help.

What are my strengths and weaknesses? Which tasks do I enjoy most and perform best? Which tasks are a chore or a bore?

Regardless of your profession, running a successful business requires many skills beyond your primary business service or activity. Whether you're a plumber, a hair stylist, a gift basket designer, or a motivational coach, in addition to performing the services or creating the product you provide to your customers, you also have to be a bookkeeper, a tax accountant, a marketing rep, a graphic artist, a website designer, and a maintenance custodian. That's a lot of hats for just one person.

Chances are that you are good at some of these tasks, and not so good at others. So ask yourself which aspects of your business you're good at, and which of your skills may not be quite up to par. Maybe you're good with numbers and don't mind doing the bookkeeping, but you're clueless when it comes to marketing. Or perhaps it's the other way around. You're great at drumming up business, but you procrastinate on your bookkeeping, and put off your tax accounting until the eleventh hour. You may be a competent graphic designer for flyers and ads, but web design makes you crazy. Or you might be so busy working that you have no time to dust and vacuum your work space.

Answering these questions for yourself is the first and most important clue to deciding what kind of help you need. Once you've identified your problem areas, you're well on your way to figuring out the kind of employee you should hire.

How many hours do I spend working each day/week? How many more hours do I need to get everything done?

There's a popular saying about working for yourself, and anyone who is successfully self-employed knows it's true: Being self employed is great! You get to work half days. And the best part is, you get to pick which twelve hours of the day you want to work.

Now it's time to take a realistic look at your schedule and estimate how many hours you're investing each week or month. Do you work all week servicing your clients, and spend weekends taking care of your bookkeeping and housekeeping? Do you spend part of your day working, and the rest of it promoting your business, attending presentation meetings, making phone calls, and designing flyers? Do you have to maintain an inventory that requires placing orders and organizing products? When calculating your hours, be sure to include the time you spend on these tasks.

Now take a look at what's left undone. Are these tasks that only you can do, or could you hire someone to help you get caught up, and maybe even have a little leisure time left over for yourself? Once you've made these calculations, you should have an idea of how many work hours you will need to fill the void in your schedule.

How much more would I be able to earn in those extra hours?

Think about how much you make per hour, and multiply it by the number of hours you calculated in the previous question. If you need an extra ten hours a week, multiply your hourly rate by ten. Could you get the help you need for less than that? If so, then you'll be coming out ahead, and hiring help would increase your bottom line. If not, then chances are, it's not worth your time and effort to hire and supervise a helper.

For more critical questions to ask yourself before you hire employees, see When to Hire Help and Who to Hire - Part Two.

Celeste Heiter is an entrepreneur and professional writer. She has owned several businesses, is a graphic designer and an expert on Japan and its culture. Today Celeste devotes her time to writing about a variety of business topics.

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