I get it; I've been there. I've also seen it happen to several other creative business owners I've had the privilege to know. The good news? There is a very simple solution to this problem! If you've reached your limit, it's time to expand your capacity. And guess what? You don't even have to manipulate the space-time continuum or grow an extra pair of hands just to do it! (Admit it, you've fantasized about doing both of those things in order to get more time or capacity to work for your biz. It's okay, I don't judge.)
If you think you could use some help, there are a lot of resources available to you. The best thing to do is to set aside a little time to think about what you need, how much you can afford, and how you want your new working relationship to function.
Let's get started, shall we?
- Make a list of all the day-to-day tasks in your small business. Tara Swiger did this, and she noticed that there were several things on her list that she avoided, disliked or that just plain slowed her down in her business. Read about her exploration here, and learn how she decided to help me! Then come back and finish your own list - what are all those To Dos that remain on your list from day to day?
- Put on your Objectivity Goggles* and take a look at that list. What are some things that you could pass off to another person? What are the things that YOU absolutely have to do yourself? (Are you REALLY sure about that, or do you just have some fears about letting go of those tasks? Either way it's okay, but it's good to at least acknowledge the difference). What are some things on that list that you HATE doing and would gladly pass off to someone else? Circle or highlight all those things; this is your new To Do list for your first employee!
- Think about the parameters of hiring someone. Do you need your new employee to come to your studio, home, or office to do the work, or can he/she work from their own digs? Do they need specialized equipment or technology, or will your average everyday laptop do the trick? Will you need to meet this person in person on a regular basis, or can they live in a different time zone from you? If you need someone in person, then you'll have to start looking for help locally. If your new employee could work from anywhere, you've got a wider range for your search!
- Think about how much you can afford to pay. If you want a trained monkey, you might be able to get them to work for minimum wage, but if you want a quality employee who will bring a certain level of skill and expertise to your creative business (hey wait - I know someone like that!), you should be prepared to pay a decent wage. If you can pay anywhere from $30 on up a week, chances are you can afford to hire someone to at least pick up a few of the tasks off your To Do list for you. That's not such a scary number, is it? If you're worried that you can't keep up with that kind of spending over time, try setting aside that money now, without actually paying it to anyone (put it in your sock drawer or your savings account). After a month or two, it should feel like a habit to be saving that money and you'll be ready to pay it to someone else.
- For tax purposes, you'll need to decide if you want to hire a contractor or an employee. For my clients, I work as a contractor - that means, basically, that I work in my own location, using my own equipment, and I set my own hours and finish the tasks in my own way. (As a result of this, I also pay my own taxes and all they have to do is report on their own taxes how much they paid me and send me a 1099 each year with that number on it.) If you need someone to work directly under your supervision, in your own space, using your own supplies, then chances are you'll need to hire an employee. Tracy of Flourish & Thrive wrote a great article for Handmadeology giving you the Inside Scoop on the whole Contractor vs. Employee situation. To go directly to the source, the IRS has a (surprisingly easy-to-understand) page on contractors vs. employees as well.
There is a lot to think about, but hiring your first employee doesn't have to be scary at all. You don't have to be an HR professional or a tax whiz in order to hire someone (or a whole team of someones!) to get yourself - and your business - the help that you so desperately need.
Want some more information on this topic? Leonie Dawson has a whole program for hiring a team of employees, and she starts you off with 13 Steps to Hiring an Exceptional VA. The Small Business Association also has a lot of information that can be very useful if you decide to go the route of hiring a full-fledged employee. And of course - as always - I'm here to help! If you want to know if hiring someone is the right choice for YOUR small business, just send me an e-mail and we'll talk!