I know exactly how you feel. You have loved your business ‘baby’ since it was just a twinkle in your eye, through to conception and then to a sometimes painful birth; but now you need help to raise it to be the best it can be. But how? Who? When? You have been everything and done everything to date, but now you feel it is time to get in some support or expertise to help your baby mature. It is hard though, who will love your ‘baby’ as you do?
- How will they know what to do, if you are not there?
- What if they want ‘skin in the game’?
- What if they are not performing to your expectations?
- What are your legal obligations?
If you have any of these concerns and most start ups do, then read on, as I will be sharing lots of tips with you in this series on how to manage your team to maximise productivity and profits.
So, first things first, can you afford an employee and what are the alternatives if you can’t? The best place to start is to forecast your revenue targets for the next 12 months and then add in an assumption of, if I have someone to do X, enabling me to do Y, what impact would this have to my forecast? I am assuming here that you have a business plan and if you don’t you should have. I am happy to share a template if you need one or look up the Government website which is very comprehensive and helpful as a starting point http://www.business.gov.au/Pages/default.aspx.
Then you need to grab a piece of paper and write down everything that you do at the moment over a week, yes everything and allocate a time to it. Once you have completed this, leave it be for a day or two and then come back to it; you will have discovered even more tasks that you had forgotten. How do you ever sleep, eat or play?! The next step is to group similar tasks into categories such as social media, finance, technology build or business development.
Now it is going to get hard – really hard! It is time for some honest reflection – what are you good at? What are your strengths and what do you need to focus on to grow your business? What can someone do better or quicker than you? Part of the challenge of being an entrepreneur is that you can turn your hands to most things, given time, but this may not be the best use of your skills or your time. Put a red circle around these particular tasks- did you halve the list? If not, you did not try hard enough. Also think about your ‘end game’- what is your intent for your business? Is it to sell in 3 years? Is it to hand on to your children? Or is this your ‘gig’ till retirement and then you plan to sell and sail around the world at age 30! Now I am back sailing in Croatia with ten friends………………, ok back to it!
With the list of tasks that you are comfortable to give away, think about the people around you who may be able to help. One of my friends worked for me for a couple of months out of Dubai for free because she believed in me and my business. So are there any volunteers? Often they are friends and family but remember, don’t take advantage. As soon as we could afford to, I took my friend to an expensive lunch to thank her for hours of work and support.
Casuals are great because you only pay for work completed but remember, this type of employee can’t have regular hours of work that are deemed to be consistent in pattern and on an ongoing basis. Then there are temporary employees that come into your business for a set period of time or for a specific project – usually sourced through an agency; however it is possible to source these employees direct from the market.
Another option is an independent contractor, but beware if this contractor acts like a permanent employee – they will be deemed to be a permanent member of the team and will attract all the benefits and protection that goes with it. Finally, part-time and full-time, permanent employees should be considered but they are expensive and there legal obligations that apply. An option here is to offer a part-time role initially and then scale up to full-time when the business can support it.
I have built my business to date with casual employees but it is my intention to move these employees to either part-time permanent or full- time when it makes sense for both my business and the individuals concerned. So remember, permanent employees are not the only option available to you and you should build a workforce that can flex, as required. Very few businesses can grow on the back of one person; so bring in some resources to help you grow your baby into a toddler.