Sooner or later, most homebased businesses grow to the point where their owners need some clerical or administrative help. Fortunately there's a wealth of opportunities available for getting the help you need. The first step, though, is deciding just what kind of help you want. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you need full-time, part-time or just periodic help?
  • Do you need someone to help carry out one specific, specialized task like bookkeeping? Or do you need someone who can help you with a variety of administrative tasks like filing, processing orders, running errands or covering the phones?
  • Do you want to have someone who will work out of your home office, or would you prefer having someone work virtually from his or her own site?

Once you have a better idea of what you're looking for, here are five cost-effective routes to getting the help you need:

1. If you're looking for part-time or periodic help, you might want to think first about hiring family members, especially older children. There are tax advantages to hiring children, but you must remember to keep records of when family members work and what exactly they do.

2. If hiring from within your family isn't an option, consider hiring a high school student from your neighborhood to work after-school hours. Contact your local high schools' guidance counselor for referrals. Or look for a retired person in your area who wants to earn some additional income. Churches and community centers are good sources for making such contacts.

3. Another option is to use the services of other homebased business owners such as bookkeepers, secretarial services or virtual assistants. You can find them through:

  • Local networking groups like Business Network International (BNI), which has chapters in communities all over the world. You can find the one nearest you at www.bni.com.

  • Local search sites like http://local.yahoo.com

  • Online professional association referral services on websites for virtual assistants like www.assistu.com and www.ivaa.org

4. To really keep costs down, you might want to consider bartering with other local businesses. Bartering business to business can lead to referrals and other valuable business connections. But remember, barter trades must be reported to the IRS. Find out more by visiting the Staffseek database of the American Staffing Association.


Authors and career coaches Paul and Sarah Edwards' latest book is The Best Home Businesses for People 50+. You can contact Paul and Sarah with your questions at www.workingfromhome.com.