You can't be all things to all people and win. You can try, but you're likely to burn up in the process. Even if you have the skills to perform many of the operations in your business it is not necessarily wise, especially time or energy are limited.
I just started working with an owner to develop her business model and revenue plans for 2013. Right now her business model is fairly simple - and working just fine - but with anticipated growth, what works now may not work as well later. Furthermore, by taking the time to think about what she wants her business to look like in the future, her "business ideal," she has the opportunity to shape the direction of future growth. When we talked about her role in the business (those activities she most enjoys, and which have the most positive impact on the business revenue) she asked me how you know when it's time to start hiring help.
- Is the decision revenue dependent?
- Is the decision skill-dependent?
Yes and yes and no.
I've coached over 100 micro-entrepreneurs, and have seen what happens when people wait too long to hire help. They come to me completely overwhelmed by the amount of work they are responsible for handling every day. They are losing their passion and most certainly the freedom that business ownership promised. Even though they had the revenue to hire help, they didn't have the time to STOP working to get it done.
Hire early and hire smart
I hired my first virtual assistant (a small business owner that offers specialized administrative assistance to other micro business owners) in 2002. To get started, I committed to a 5-hour monthly retainer. She helped me with my newsletter, put marketing copy up onto my website, and with a few other marketing needs as they arose. Taking this one simple action early on put me in the mindset of a business owner. Next, I hired a bookkeeper (that was one activity I hung onto far too long). I have hired professional web designers, social media assistants, editors (for my books) and business coaches to help me plan.
Most owners think about two factors when they think about paying someone to help them: the associated time and expense. Although important factors, they are likely to give rise to resistance-laden "no." Yet, many of us in service businesses wouldn't have much work if everyone thought that way!
When is the best time to hire?
- When a business task is so time-consuming, or so repugnant, that you ignore it all together, or you spend so much time on it keeps you from your most valued work.
- When you can use the freed-up time to engage in work that brings in more money than it will cost you to pay for the help.
- When either of the above consume 3 or more hours a week.
A Quick Guide to Adding to Your Team
You most definitely need to take time to understand your needs, as well as what you expect in return. When you think about what you expect in return, think not only about what you need/want a person or company to do for you, but what you want the financial return to be. In exchange for the money you spend:
- Will your business make more money because their efforts garner more leads, prospects and, eventually, customers AND/OR
- Will the business make more money because of what you can do with the freed up time, assuming you earn more "per hour" than you spend to hire them - and you use that time accordingly?
- Will their efforts save you from making mistakes or engaging in activities that slow down growth or threaten the business? (Legal and IT consultants fall into this category.)
- If your hire technical people, will the product or service they (help) create turn into a worthwhile profit center?
If you have questions about planning or hiring, please submit your comments to this post.
If you have had a positive or negative experience (hiring too late, hiring just in time, not hiring at all) please submit your comments to this post.