We all dream of success and growth for our businesses, but not many of us realize (in the beginning) that success can be just as painful as failure if your business isn’t ready for it.
When the orders start flooding in, what will you need to do to prepare to fill them? When clients start banging down your door, how are you going to make sure they are all well-served?
A typical first reaction from most business owners when they experience a jump in growth is to hire a large team. After all, you will need people to help process, ship and provide customer service, right? However, I encourage you to take a step back. Remember that businesses have cycles, and growth isn’t always a steady incline. You might need help, but maybe you aren’t ready for a team (and hiring one before your business is truly ready is an expensive pitfall to avoid!). Realize that, especially as you are getting started, it’s important to have resources that can ebb and flow with your business. Here are a couple of tips to consider if this is where you’re at (or for when you get there):
Use Flexible Resources
When you start looking for help, don’t immediately think of hiring someone full time. Many businesses only require extra help at certain times of the year, so think carefully about what help you really need and hire people only when and where you need them. For example, for some businesses it makes sense to hire a larger customer service team during the holidays or busy summer months, but not through slower months. Hiring temporary help prevents you from paying for services you don’t need through the rest of the year. Since many tasks that you need to hire for can be planned in advance, I recommend securing your contractors early in the year so you’re not scrambling to find a good person during these key times. Hire a tax accountant for reviews twice a year, a bookkeeper four times a year, have an editor review 20 blog posts at a time instead of working every day. The idea is to find resources that fit your high-demand times, or the times when you really do need extra help.
For activities that can’t be planned in advance, look to secure freelancers for work that is less constant. For example, find a designer on fiverr.com or get a website coder from upwork.com . Instead of having a full-time designer, have a few designers you can reach out to when you have large projects, or plan to launch a big campaign.
Instead of hiring full-time employees, start with candidates who have flexibility in their schedules and can work shortened hours. Consider hiring someone for either a specific project, like a 6-week product launch, or for 3-to-5 hours per week. This will give you a chance to work with them for a short period of time to evaluate their skills and determine if they are a good fit for your business. Setting out specific goals and tasks is a real help here because you can quickly see if there are challenges, or if this is an amazing candidate you want to hold on to based on what they’ve been able to deliver. This is especially true when your goals and objectives are very clear, as they should be on a specific task/project. I find that most people I work with feel comfortable working with clear guidelines like this, and specific projects are a great way for them to show their skills.
Hiring the wrong person will not only cost you financially, but can often de-rail projects or affect your customers’ experience. Also, if you are already drowning in tasks, you will need time to adjust your own schedule so you can find time to train and manage new team members. Starting small and limiting your hourly commitment means you won’t be taking on the huge financial responsibility of hiring employees before your business can support this cost.
I know you might be thinking, “Can I really find someone great who is willing to work 3-5 hours per week?” The answer is yes. I find graduate students are perfect candidates for these types of roles because they are often experienced and know how to meet deadlines, and they may not be looking for full-time work yet. I’ve hired new moms in many of these positions because they might have left work while their children are young, but they have some amazing skills and want to stay sharp for when they plan to return to work full time.
Whether you’re looking to hire temporary help or a long-term employee, don’t forget to post on the Vegan Mainstream Job Board, free for the first 20 days. Using portals specific to the vegan community can help make your search more efficient and effective.
Make a list of the tasks you need help with, and note what time of year you need help with them. This will enable you to determine whether you can use flexible resources, or if you need to hire someone more permanently (even if on a small scale).