How to Afford Your First Hire
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In this special feature of 'Ask Entrepreneur,' Facebook fan Candy Sweeney asks: I've grown my business to the point where I need to hire help, but I don't have the money yet to hire. I can't do it alone, so how do I move forward?
You are so right, Candy! You can do it all, just not alone.
I'm not sure what line of work you are in, but if you need an administrative person to help you, you may want to find someone who is also a fantastic salesperson. I’ve always done this within my company. My very first hire was an assistant who would also help me to make sales calls.
She was very good at closing the sale, and in doing so, she brought extra cash flow into the business that helped pay for her job. I paid her a base hourly salary plus a commission on sales to keep her motivated and incentivized. This is a fantastic bootstrapping way to get your first hire.
You say that your business is growing, and it's always smart to be ready for that growth versus scrambling to respond or react to it. Everyone needs support, and if you don't invest in the help, you are cutting yourself off at the knees.
If you can create systems that are very organized, you can ensure that your dollar goes the extra mile. Women entrepreneurs, in particular, have a hard time letting go. Believe me, I know it’s challenging, especially since often we can just get it done faster and better ourselves.
The best strategy is to view your employee as your extra set of hands and feet. You need to extract yourself from “doing” and spend the time creating the systems and training the person so that you have a “mini-me.” This is the single most important thing you can do for your business early on. Think about what the double work can do for you, your business and your revenue!
Being in business means that you are always doing the dance of cash flow versus investment. I have a daily action plan (you can get a free copy on my website, savorthesuccess.com) that I have my staff fill out at the beginning of the day. It keeps them organized and productive so that I know they are focusing their time on things that can help increase our incoming revenue. I like to see on that daily action plan that they are doing customer service-related tasks because this helps increase our customer happiness, which increases future orders. It’s important that they spend time on the smaller details to keep the company running, but it’s important that they spend equal amounts of time on things that help increase cash flow.
The best way to identify exactly what you need in your first hire (and all subsequent hires) is to take a fresh sheet of paper, draw a stick figure and tape it to your office wall. As you progress through your day and you see yourself doing something that you know someone else could do for you, write it on a sticky note and put it on that paper. Do this for two weeks, and you will have somewhat of a job description. I also like to put qualities and characteristics I need in that person (passionate about my mission, thorough, engaging) so you can find someone who you want to work with.
Finally, I would challenge you to think beyond "I don't have the money." Think instead, "How can I afford this?" and you will see the possibilities and opportunities open up for you.