Hiring Employees

When to Hire Help and Who to Hire - Part Two

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. This is part two of a two part article.

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.

How much time do I waste? Would automating and streamlining my business work just as well?

Be honest here. Do you squander part of your work day playing video games or fraternizing on Facebook? Do you find yourself chatting on the phone far more than necessary? Do you take long lunches and too many breaks? Are you easily sidetracked? Do you suffer from creative blocks? If the answer to any or all of these questions is YES, then you could probably benefit from changing your work habits and spending your time more productively instead of spending money to hire help.

Would a timesaving gadget, a software program, or a new piece of equipment better serve your needs?

Make a list of all the tasks you must do to keep your business running successfully. Now think about how much time you spend at each of these tasks and ask yourself whether there is something out there that you could buy as a one-time purchase, rather than spending money every week to pay someone to do it. Is there a machine that might save you enough hours each week? Would owning or leasing a copy machine or a piece of cleaning equipment do the trick? Would a software program with business templates and automated features help you finish tasks such as bookkeeping or website design in half the time? If the answer is YES, you may be better off making a purchase that will pay for itself in a relatively short time.

Do I need a partner? Or would an assistant be sufficient?

Do you need someone who can do what you do, a trained professional who also works in your field? Or do you need someone to perform the routine tasks required in the daily operation of your business that any reasonably skilled and competent worker could do? The way to determine this is to answer the question, "What tasks are being left undone?" Do you need someone to service your clients at the same level of expertise that you have? Or are the only tasks being left undone the simple nuts and bolts chores. Finding a partner who is capable of working at your skill level is much more challenging than hiring someone to do the basics.

Would domestic help, a babysitter, and/or a personal shopper free up the extra hours you need?

Could it be that help you need is not at the office, but at home? Do you have to cut your workdays short to chauffeur your children around, run errands, or maintain your household? If so, then maybe you need to hire domestic help instead, in the form of a personal assistant, a babysitter, or a housekeeper. Knowing that you'll be coming home to a clean, organized home might just give you the motivation you need to work a couple of extra hours each day to get yourself caught up at work, so you can enjoy your precious time at home.

How much can I afford to pay an employee?

If you've determined that you do need to hire help, it's time to assess your budget and calculate how much you can afford to pay your help. Be sure to take into consideration the current minimum wage, as well as the going rate for the type of help you've decided to hire. You may be able to find a competent worker who is willing to do the basics for minimum wage, however, certain skilled tasks will require additional wages. Remember, you get what you pay for. You may also want to consider a flat rate per diem or per project fee for services rendered. This ensures that the job gets done without the issue of your helper working below his or her hourly capacity.

Would an employee also boost my revenues?

In addition to the hourly work your helper could accomplish, would the person you hire also provide valuable client referrals or bring in their own clientele? If so, this would help justify the cost of wages, so be sure to take this into consideration when deciding what kind of help to hire.

Do I need on-site help, or would outsourcing be an option?

These days, it's possible to outsource nearly every routine task. Would the help you need have to be hands-on, within the four walls of your business, or could it be contracted out? Things like help with inventory, or working your front desk must be done on-site, but bookkeeping, tax accounting, or web design could easily be outsourced. With a dedicated cell phone and a reliable worker, even hiring someone to answer your phone and schedule your appointments could be outsourced.

If on-site help is necessary, would I be willing to give up my solitude?

For someone who is used to working alone, allowing another person into your work space requires a lot of functional and psychological adjustment. Would you find it a distraction? Would the presence of another person disrupt your focus and concentration on your work? Do you have enough space to accommodate on-site help? Would supervising a worker require so much of your time that you would gain nothing? Do you hate having to make small talk, or are you annoyed by idle chatter? If the answer to any or all of these questions is YES, think long and hard about allowing another person to your world and consider outsourcing instead.

This was part two of a two part article. For more questions, see When to Hire Help and Who to Hire - Part One.

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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