Very few decisions in your small business come close to the amount of fear, research, and questions that come when you try to decide if it is time to hire employees.
It’s a tough enough leap to decide that you will start a business involving yourself, but hiring employees brings an added level of responsibility. It is definitely taking your business to the next level when you finally decide to hire help.
6 Signs It is Time to Hire Employees
Don’t ignore these signs. Unfortunately a lot of businesses try to limp along with two few people. Often just one person…you. And this is when the risk of bad reviews, lowered quality, or lessened customer service can start to set in. Another key concern is that a one woman or man business show can often find themselves experiencing business burnout.
Any of these can become a significant risk for a failing business. And when you start failing, you start looking for reasons to quit business. We don’t want that. Pay attention to these warning signs that you need to hire some help.
Hire help when you can no longer keep up with the orders.
There is only so much one person can do when running a business. If you are the creator, the marketer, the shipper, the website person, the social media strategist, the trend finder and so on, then at some point you will be maxed out on what you are able to do. You simply won’t be able to do it all by yourself anymore.
At first, it’s tempting to have family help pick up the slack. This can work for brief busy seasons. But when you can no longer keep up with your orders, that is a clear message that it is time to hire help for at least some aspects of your business.
Hire when you aren’t able to do anything else except for keep up with orders.
This is another common problem growing businesses find themselves in. Yes, they can keep up with orders, but they cannot find time to list new product, develop new product ideas, schedule and post consistently to social media, learn new platforms, or keep on top of all the other things outside of orders that a business needs to do.
This is not only limiting your growth, but can actually set your business up for failure down the line. Products, customers, and trends change. It may take time, but those orders keeping you busy now will drop off. And unless you have the right product ready to replace them, your business could dwindle and die.
Hire some help when you are feeling overwhelmed and don’t have time to bring in other streams of revenue.
If you are already so overwhelmed with selling in one area, then it becomes impossible to implement growth in another area. If your social media customers are keeping you so busy that you can’t find time to learn and implement an Etsy strategy, then you are limiting your business growth. You want the streams of income coming in to be as diverse as possible.
If Etsy temporarily tanks, you want to be able to go to your social media audience and sell your new items there. The only way to do this is to remove some of your tasks by hiring someone to help. This can help free up the time needed to add another stream of revenue to your business plan.
Hire some help when you want to add another product line to your business and can’t do all the things.
You know the saying it takes a village to raise a kid? Well it takes a village to run a growing business. Have you ever wanted to add a new section or product line to your business but can’t find the time to develop or implement the ideas? That is a good indication that it’s time to hire.
You likely have a system in place that you could teach someone else and free up some time to grow your business. This was how I was able to add Creative Strategies even while still running a six figure sign making business. It’s all because I have the employees to make it work.
Hire employees when you are burnt out from working long hours.
Business burnout is a real thing and it can arrive unexpectedly. You need to recognize the difference between long hours working that are yielding amazing results in the beginning stages of business, and working yourself into the ground year after year.
Hiring help could mean that you get a day off, time with your family, caught up on orders, or whatever would help you create more balance in your day to day life.
You need to stay motivated by teamwork and have the workload to support: Many times when we have someone working beside us it keeps us from getting so distracted in our day. We get more done not only because we have help but also because we have someone there and we can stay focused.
A partner or team can help us stay on task, keep us pumped up towards our goals, and help us accomplish major goals in a shorter amount of time. It helps keep up forward minded to know that other people are depending on us and need us to pull our weight.
It’s a big responsibility to have an employee and their wages on our shoulders, but this could be just the weight you need to make this business a serious business and not just a hobby.
What tasks can you hire employees to help with?
You are the root of your business so more than likely you are everything right now. But what if someone could do your shipping for you, could cut fabric for you, could cut wood or sand for you, or what if that person could take pictures for you and is really good at creating content? What if you could have someone come in and do these things that are busy, but necessary for you to do for your business?
- shipping… This was a tough thing for me to let go of. But training someone to handle our shipping process freed up so much time for me and allowed me to focus on my real love of designing and social media marketing for our business.
- packaging…This is directly related to shipping. It is not too difficult to set up a system to get orders packed and then train someone else to complete this repetitive task for you.
- sorting…Whether this is sorting fabric, beads, wood sizes, etc. Sorting and categorizing is an easy job to train someone else to do.
- prepping…Hiring our woodworker freed up a lot more time for painting. You could hire someone to cut out pattern pieces, prep boards for painting, assemble items for you, and many other prep work tasks.
- painting…It took a little more time to train my people how to paint items the way I wanted them done, but now I have employees who can paint nearly as fast as I can, and with the same high quality.
- designing…If designing isn’t your strong suit, then consider finding someone who could be paid to do this aspect for you.
- social media management…Social media is such an important part of a sound online business strategy that can bring in quite a bit of sales. My Facebook group alone has made thousands of dollars for me each month. But it takes consistent posting with a purpose to make it work. If this isn’t something that you are able to commit to, then training and hiring a social media content creator or manager could be a great investment.
- website management…I’m always honest about my feelings about technology. So when it came to a website, I chose a platform for my retail store that was less intimidating at least tech-wise. But for the website for my creative coaching and membership programs, I needed a lot more customization. And I hired help to do it. You don’t have to do everything yourself. Sometimes the hours of frustration can quickly become more expensive than hiring someone to do it right for you. Remember that your time is worth money.
- photography…I’m a firm believer that you can learn and grow enough as a photographer to get great pictures of your products. But pictures sell. And if you are struggling to have pictures that are enticing enough to customers, then hiring a photographer, working with a brand rep, or at least bartering with a photographer may be good options for you.
- Virtual assistant or general assistant…Virtual assistants come with all kinds and levels of skills and specialties, so it’s important to be clear about what you need help with. But virtual assistants (depending on their skill set) can do everything from social media posting, customer service responses, listing products, photography, video editing, search engine research, and many other services. General assistants can offer the same kind of help, but more typically work in person instead of virtually.
What benefit is there to hiring employees for your small business?
A lot of these are obvious, but if you still need to talk yourself into the benefits of hiring help remember that hiring employees can…
Save your time.
Create more revenue.
Allow you to expand your business.
Increase or better your customer service.
Improve or expand your product line.
Many times until we hire we don’t realize how much giving out even one task to someone else can save us time and even money. It was at the moment I was going to Farmers Markets, taking on 80 customs a month and holding paint parties on the weekends, when I noticed my business was getting busier and busier.
I could no longer keep up with the orders coming in, going to the market, and trying to prepare for parties all by myself. I was exhausted beyond belief. Does this sound familiar? I hired someone on an as needed basis. I was extremely blessed in the person I first chose to hire. Mindy has become more than an employee and is more like family, now. And over the years she has become a full-time painter and even assists in many other ways in my business.
In the beginning, she would help me cut and sand wood. She would pull stencils, ship, stain and base coat, clean brushes and the list goes on. While she was doing all the things that had to be done, I was able to design, market and take on more orders. I was able to grow my business.
So looking at your business now, how would that help you? What are some ideas you have that take up a lot of your time but you could teach anyone to do? Mindy transitioned very quickly into being a painter and into a set 4 days a week about 6 months into the hiring process. Is there a position you could train them to work towards as well? As you hire you allow yourself to continue to grow.
What are your fears about hiring employees?
I know hiring employees can be scary but as you grow you need to know that it is okay not to do it all by yourself. Honestly you can’t if you want your product based business to grow. And this is especially true if you are a handmade maker. It’s just not possible to see growth without help. But there are things like taxes, filing, paychecks and management that come along with employees.
You need to make sure you have the orders to support someone. Even if you don’t know for sure, more than likely when you are able to create more items with an engaged audience you will be able to make double the product you are currently making. And if profit margins are correct, that employee will make you more money than you are paying them. Which means you will have more money in your pocket.
I recommend either really learning all the employee tax codes and payroll or getting a CPA to handle this for you. The bigger you grow the more you will find value in a bookkeeper or CPA, I highly recommend looking into contracting one for your business.
8 ways to make hiring employees less scary.
- Get a bookkeeper or CPA to handle payroll. It’s always best to let a professional handle these aspects. Ask their advice about starting people out as general contractors or on an as needed business. They will be able to guide you.
- Hire someone who isn’t great at the same things your are. Someone who thinks they know everything about designing is not going to be ecstatic to watch you design as they clean up. If you aren’t super organized, look for a person who could bring that skill to the table. If you don’t enjoy repetitive detail oriented work, find someone who does. You will be glad to give up the work you don’t enjoy. And they won’t be trying to show you that their way is better.
- Make it a trial or as needed basis to start. A two to four week trial is a great way to make sure that you are the right fit for each other. Just make sure this is negotiated before any work begins.
- Ask the right questions of potential employees. Look for someone who would be a good fit for your company. Do this during the interview and continue during the trial period.
- Ask them to sign a non-compete agreement. It’s a reality in today’s world that someone might want to take what they’ve learned from you and start their own business. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as long as you put a policy in place for non-competing.
- Allow for a training period (video training, workflow checklists, etc, regular reviews). This will be up to you to make sure that the employee has a chance to learn, practice, get productive feedback, and have their opportunities expanded.
- Set clear expectations and give examples of what you are looking for. Visual representations are going to be better than vague verbal instructions. Employees can’t do what you didn’t show or train them to do.
- Let go of things that don’t matter. There will be some things about employees and their process that won’t matter in the final product. Maybe they don’t do the steps exactly as you do, but the end result is identical. Learn to make a big deal out of big deals, and let the rest go.