Ending Soon! Save 33% on All Access

4 Steps That Prove You Can't Afford Not to Hire Your First Employee Should you be the one checking your email and scheduling appointments? Or doing the tasks that will truly move your business forward?

By Brandon Turner Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


For years, I tried to do everything alone in my business. As a house flipper, I would find properties, arrange financing, tile bathrooms, clean old refrigerators, install carpet and do almost every other task needed to make a profit.

Related: The 5 Essential Hires Needed to Grow a Business

I struggled -- a lot. But when I started hiring out more and more tasks, I began making more and more money.

Of course, you've heard that a million times. But knowing and doing are two different things, aren't they? Yes, hiring someone else is obvious. But being able to afford that someone is not so easy. After all, you're probably thinking: "I can't afford to hire my first employee! I hardly make any money!"

I was there, too. I get it. But here's my simple answer to that: You can't afford NOT to. Here's why.

How an employee will change your business

What is your time worth? If I offered you $10 to stop what you are doing and sit in a dark room for an hour, would you do it? How about for $100? How about $1,000? At some point, I'm going to cross the threshold of what your time is worth, where you'd be making more money sitting in that room than you'd make outside of it.

Of course, that number is different for each person, but let me say something you may find shocking: Every single day, you are making that one-hour trade for just $10. Sometimes for far less.

"No way!" you might insist. But first answer these questions:

  • Do you check your own email?
  • Do you check your Facebook?
  • Do you schedule appointments and meetings?
  • Do you handle tech support?

If you are doing these tasks, you are essentially working for just a few dollars per hour, because this is what it would cost for someone else to do the task for you. Perhaps these tasks are not as bad as sitting in a dark room, but the results are the same: Your real work is not getting done. The real, life-changing work that's going to propel your business forward is sitting there on the back burner.

Related: 5 Essential Hiring Tips for Growing Startups

That's how an employee will change your life. By outsourcing those simple tasks, you'll enable yourself to work on only the things that matter, the $1,000- and $10,000-per-hour tasks that you -- and you alone -- can do. You'll have the same number of hours in a day as Dr. Oz, Bill Gates, Taylor Swift and Oprah. How do they accomplish so much more? They work only on their $10,000- (or $100,000)-per-hour tasks, while you're working on your $10-per-hour ones.

Okay, so now you are convinced about needing that new employee. But you still can't afford to hire one, right? Here are four steps to getting there.

1. Sacrifice for the moment.

How badly do you really want success? If hiring an employee can help turn your struggling/small business into something greater, you will need to sacrifice to make it happen -- at least in the beginning.

When my business couldn't afford an assistant for me, I paid for this addition out of my own pocket, trimming my monthly expenses to make it happen. You can do the same! Make a budget and stick to it. Stop eating out for a few months. Work extra hours to make more income. Hustle.

2. Hire the right person.

The right employee can produce ten times what he or she cost you. You'll have purchased the world's best slot machine! However, the worst employee will cost you ten times more than they bring in. Not so good.

Therefore, you must hire the right person to make your investment pay off. So, take the time to learn how to hire the right person, how to interview, how to screen and how to offer the right amount. Know that this decision could be the number-one most important decision you will ever make in your business, so don't treat it lightly.

3. Hire part-time if needed.

If you can't afford someone 40 hours per week, don't sweat it. There are a lot of people out there looking for part-time work.

Several years ago, we hired a woman, to look after our rental properties, who didn't want to work more than ten hours per week. The job was perfect for her, perfect for us; and, suddenly, I no longer had to show vacant units, screen tenants, answer phone calls and deal with tenant drama. Just last month, we hired a maintenance guy who wanted just 15 hours a week -- also perfect for the level of work we currently have. So, forget always thinking in terms of full-time; think part-time if that's what you need.

4. Hire on commission.

Finally, when you hire an incredible employee, make sure he or she is significantly rewarded for making you money. After all, a salary is nice, but salary is expected.

When a rock-star employee has something to work toward and no limit to potential income, he or she will work significantly harder and smarter for you. Your goals will also be suddenly aligned, and your rocket ship will be able to truly launch into space.

What's more, you can hire on straight commission or maybe a salary/commission split. For example, we recently hired an acquisitions manager for my real estate business. We hired her at a basic monthly salary, but offered an extra $1,000 per deal that she could help us buy -- and no limit.

It worked: She helped us close her first deal in just eight days and was the best $1,000 check I've ever written! If she wants to earn $100,000 this year, that's totally up to her -- and I hope she does, because it means I will have made a lot more.

The sky will be the limit for both of us. And it can be, for you, too. The only thing standing in the way is that first hire. So, what are you waiting for?

Together, you'll be able to take your business higher than you ever imagined. You'll be able to focus on the tasks that truly will help you dominate.

So, get out there and start the ball rolling to hiring your first employee today.

Related: 9 Questions to Ask Candidates' References

Brandon Turner

Real Estate Investor and Co-host of the BiggerPockets Podcast!

Brandon Turner is a real estate entrepreneur and the VP of Growth at BiggerPockets.com, one of the web’s largest real estate investing communities. He is also the author of The Book on Rental Property InvestingThe Book on Investing in Real Estate with No (and Low) Money Down and several other books. Buying his first home at the age of 21, Turner quickly grew his real estate portfolio to over 40 units using a variety of creative finance methods. He and his wife Heather live in Grays Harbor, Wash. 

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Business News

Did OpenAI steal Scarlett Johansson's voice? 5 Critical Lessons for Entrepreneurs in The AI Era

Did OpenAI steal Scarlett Johansson's voice? OpenAI has since paused the "Sky" voice feature, but Johansson argues that this is no coincidence. In response, Johansson delivers a masterclass for entrepreneurs on navigating the AI era successfully.

Business News

Apple iPhone 7 Users May Be Owed a Slice of a $35 Million Settlement — Here's How to Claim Your Share

Previous (and current, no judgment) iPhone 7 users may be entitled to up to $349. The deadline to file a claim is June 3.

Business Ideas

63 Small Business Ideas to Start in 2024

We put together a list of the best, most profitable small business ideas for entrepreneurs to pursue in 2024.


How Corporate Investment Helps Startups Deploy Technology Faster Than Ever

Financial resources, strategic alignment, access to expertise, market validation and operational support make this deployment possible.