The phone rang at 8:01 AM in my office a few months ago. A very familiar voice said, “It’s time”. I knew what she was talking about since we had been discussing the pros and cons of adding a staff person to assist her in her small business. I’m talking small …very small! Sole proprietor small! I asked, “How do you know it’s time?” She replied, “Yesterday when I punched my frequent flyer number into the microwave to heat up some coffee, I knew I needed help!”
“Is this the right time to bring someone into my business?” It’s a question that I’m asked a lot. The best answer I have is simply this – hire staff when it is costing you money NOT to do so. Ask yourself, what is the best use of my time? Also, ask yourself the following:
- Business growth – are you spending all of your time doing everything yourself? Do you have time to read industry journals, the Wall Street Journal, or even your daily paper? Do you have time to devote to the creative aspects of your business? If your business is growing, you had better grow with it. Remember that a viable business is one that is in constant movement. Sometimes this means adding an employee in response to new needs.
- Positioning – do you even have time to consider positioning in your market? Are you able to put enough time and effort into building the relationships you must have with clients and prospects? If not, your competition will!
- Opportunity – are you missing opportunities to do things like attend conventions, trade shows, meetings, network, update your web site, develop and market products? If not, it may be time! Education is a continuing effort.
- Money – when you have $95,000 in collectibles you haven’t had time to invoice … it’s time!
- Life balance – this is not just a catchy phrase, it is your life! Being overwhelmed with work can be like trying to fit size 12 feet in a size 8 shoe! Do your children think you are an intruder when you walk in the door? If they do … it’s time!
- Image – this is not an arrogant consideration. Could you be better positioned in your market if you had an employee or employees? If you give workshops on teambuilding but have no way to relate to it with a personal story, what does this say? If you pride yourself on quick response but can’t return phone calls in a timely manner, what may it say about you? Do you “walk your talk?” It may be time.
- If Oprah’s producers call you wanting you to promote your new book or product but you haven’t had time to call them back … it’s time!
- Finally, are you working more but enjoying it less? Only you can answer this one, however, realize that if you aren’t finding joy in what you do, your customers or clients will know it, and it will hurt your business.
Once you bring someone on board, remember this: If you want to be the best boss possible, never forget what your employee really wants, namely, to make a difference. My friend, Shep Hyken, shared the following story, which illustrates my point.
The Ritz-Carlton Hotel chain, winner of the prestigious Malcolm Baldridge Award for quality service, is famous for top-notch customer service. Here is why. Every employee, whether doorman, waiter, cook, or janitor, can spend up to $2,000 on the spot to fix a guest’s problem. (That was the number a few years ago it may have gone up.) What must that say to each employee? They know they CAN make a difference. That’s what I call empowerment! I used to work for a Fortune 100 corporation. We barely could spend a dollar without several people “signing off on it”!
Never underestimate the power of giving someone authority. After you have found an employee, make sure he or she feels appreciated and important to your business. If you do, a wonderful dynamic will take place. You will have a business partner, not just an employee.
Is it time for you to hire an employee? If it is, your goal as a business owner must be to nurture and lead them so that they may feel a sense of ownership in your business. Are you up to the challenge?
Lois works with professional speakers who want to book more business, make more money and fully monetize their intellectual property! She can be reached in the following ways:
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