Almost all SMEs start off as a one-man, or one-woman, show.
You’re the CEO of your company, but you’re also the sales person, the accountant, the delivery person, and, if you have an office, you’re probably also the cleaner!
Being the do-it-all can seem like the perfect solution at the beginning, especially when the workload is still manageable.
However, as a business owner, you’re always stepping it up and looking for more work.
The more work you have, the more likely your business will grow successfully. But what happens when it becomes too much for you to handle alone?
Every small business will have to face this problem sooner or later – when do I start hiring my first employee?
It’s difficult to hire because money can be tight. But without the extra pair of hands, you have too much on your plate, and can’t go out and close more sales.
Without the extra sales and extra money, you’ll continue to find it difficult to justify hiring an employee.
Then, you’re back at square one. I call this the “cycle of death”.
To break out of this cycle, learn to identify the signs that clearly show you need to hire that first person. Here’s what you should look out for:
- You’re working almost all the time, even through the weekends
- There’s a never-ending list of things to do that you can’t seem to complete
- Your customers are complaining about the timeliness of your work/delivery
If you’ve answered “yes” to any of the above, especially the third point, it’s time to sit down and assess the obvious predicament you have on your hands.
Do a time audit
This is one of the first steps you should take when considering whether or not to hire, and what position to hire.
This step may seem a little tedious, but it will go a long way in helping you determine exactly how you’ve been using your time and how to manage it better.
- Get a notebook.
- List down all your activities, from the moment you start your day, to the moment you go back to bed.
- Mark the time you start each activity, and the time you move on to the next. Include everything, even if it seems petty. Things like replying your emails, and being stuck in traffic may seem pointless, but they do add up.
- Do this for two weeks, and analyze the results at the end.
From this time audit, you’ll realise what kind of menial work is taking up most of your time, and who you need to hire.
For example, you don’t want to be spending two hours a day in front of the copy machine, when you should be networking and marketing to get more customers.
Assess your budget
Don’t just assume you don’t have the cash to hire extra hands, without first doing the maths.
Go through your cash flow and budget, considering how much extra money you will need to cover the additional expenses of getting someone else on board your team.
Budgeting can sometimes be quite complex, so be sure that you’re clear about what you want to achieve. Here’s an easy guide to follow:
- Identify the position you want to hire, based on your time audit. For example, if you’re at the copy machine way too much, think about hiring an office assistant. If you’re making cold calls all through lunch and dinner, consider getting a salesperson.
- Find out what the market rate is for the position you want to hire. This rate is the minimal additional cost to your business.
- Determine how much additional sales you will need to close every month to cover the additional expenses of getting a hired hand. For example, if you need to pay your assistant RM2,000 per month, and each additional client will give you RM500 per month, then you’ll need 4 additional clients to cover this person’s salary.
- Weigh this against the fact that you’ll have extra time to do marketing and close more sales. Is it realistic for you to get the 4 additional clients? How long will it take?
Make the decision
As a business person, it’s important to know when to listen to your gut feeling, and how to tally that against all the information you have.
If your gut is telling you that you cannot handle all the work, and the signs are showing you that you need to hire an assistant, borrowing from Nike’s well-known slogan, “just do it”.
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