Let’s take a look at the age-old problem of hiring. It’s tricky in a good economy, let alone a recessionary one like this. The decision to ‘pull the trigger’ and hire can be a difficult one on many levels.
Look at it this way: You start a business with a great idea, but maybe not so great funding. You invest blood, sweat equity, and tears, and after a period of time, you begin to find that you’re making money, but you’re getting swamped. You’re getting behind on marketing, networking, emailing, managing your contact list, etc. More importantly, you’re dropping the ball. Your missing deadlines. You’re not returning phone calls the way you should, and maybe your customers are beginning to notice that your service isn’t as responsive as it used to be. That’s a lot of pressure, so you begin to think that maybe it’s time to hire some help.
(For the sake of this conversation, let’s focus on office staff since we all have offices – even if that office happens to be the front seat of a pickup truck!) Also, although I’ll be (self-servingly) focusing on virtual/off-site staff a little later, for the time being let’s look at off-site and on-site staff in the same light, because the decision-tree is really the same up to the point of deciding if you should hire a virtual assistant or an on-site assistant.
So what happens the moment you decide to hire someone?
You’ll have to make certain that you have some sort of a job description in place so the assistant will know what’s expected of him/her. Chances are, if you haven’t had an employee in the past, you probably haven’t written out a policy or procedure about how most chores in your office are handled. That means that you’ll need to take the time to think about all of your processes and how you’ll train the new person.
Then comes the hiring/interviewing process. Since you obviously don’t have access to a full HR department to do all that for you, you’ll need to run ads (believe it or not, Craig’s List is not a bad place to run a want-ad), review resumes, schedule interviews, possibly run background checks, etc.
Then when you make the decision, you’ll realize it’s often a ‘crap-shoot.’ Sometimes you get lucky and hire the right person, but often it doesn’t work out that well.
So now you’ve made the decision to hire, you hope you’ve chosen the best person, and you’re starting to orient them to their new job. At this point, you’ll begin noticing some interesting dynamics. For one thing, you’re going to have less time to run your business because you’ll need to invest time into this new employee. He/she may not have the skill level that you anticipated, so some retraining may be needed.
More significantly, you’ll run into the dreaded “Law of Diminishing Returns.” Simply put, that means that you’ll initially see a drop in your profits because now you’re paying an employee that you weren’t previously. The concept of the Law of Diminishing Returns will hopefully become less of a factor as your new employee learns his/her job; freeing you up to find more business and increasing your overall capacity to take on new business.
(On a side note, the Law of Diminishing Returns haunts every business owner, to some degree, over the life of a business because every time there’s a growth spurt, increased payroll will often eat away at a portion of the newly found profits. Hopefully, it eventually levels off as more business comes in, and begins to again approximate the previous profit level until, guess, what – you reach the point of having to hire another person).
If you did everything well (had the correct timing, survived the interviewing/hiring process, chose the right person and gave them a solid orientation), then within a few months you should begin seeing the fruit of your efforts (ie: More productive time spent on the business, more clients and/or more quality personal time, and maybe even more income).
BUT… What if you didn’t do everything right? Maybe the timing was wrong. Maybe you chose the wrong person. Maybe your orientation wasn’t as complete as you thought or the person’s skill level is not what you thought and the person is making a lot of mistakes. Maybe your business hasn’t grown as you thought it would and now you’re finding that payroll is getting harder to meet. Maybe you’re finding yourself waking up at 3am worrying about how you’ll tell this employee that you will have to reduce hours, or worse. Read on for some solutions to each of these problems, and more importantly, how to avoid them:
Timing: There are two important exercises that you should do before making the decision to hire an employee:
How can you avoid the other pitfalls noted above?
By considering outsourcing your front and back office support, you don’t have to worry about hiring the wrong person. With Daybreak, we’ll give you an American based team led by a virtual assistant who is responsible for your account. The first two weeks of service is absolutely free and without obligation so that, besides trying it out, you can train your virtual team at our expense. When finished, you’ll have a team of 3-5 people available to you 40 hours per week, but you only pay for actual time used – even if it’s only a few hours a week. Probably one of the most important features is the fact that the services are completely scalable on a day-to-day; week-to-week or month-to-month basis. If you suddenly get busy, you have access to your full team. If you hit a quiet period, then you won’t need the team as much, so you’ll pay less. You may, in fact, only need one team member for a couple of hours a week. That won’t matter because the rest of the team will be there if and when you need them, and you’ll only pay for the time and services used. (Most small business clients pay between $300 and $800 per month for all of the front and back office support they need).
If you find that you are ready to take the plunge of hiring an assistant, give me a call or send an email to the address below. I would love to show you how we can help take your business to the next level without breaking the bank.
If you’re serious, plan to take some time to review the questions and provide indepth answers for yourself. If you honestly assess your situation and needs, it should become obvious to you whether or not it’s time to consider hiring addtional staff.
Thank you for joining me – and feel free to post comments with any thoughts or insights you might have.
Jeffrey T. Mehl
Daybreak Office Solutions, LLC
Daybreak Virtual Staffing
Daybreak Virtual Office