Usually, I am quick on the respond.

When someone sends me an email, a text or calls me, I quickly respond.

I am an advocate of top-notch customer service and treating my clients and my co-workers with utmost respect. I know if I sent an email or made a phone call, I wouldn’t want to be left wondering if the other person received it. I believe it’s important to respond quickly to any form of communication.

Here’s the truth – last week was one of those weeks where I was buried in work. With one thing after the next, I was handling what was the most pressing first and the things that could wait – well they could wait. It was a crazy, busy but successful week. Thankfully, I have caught up.

But it got me wondering -when does a small business owner like myself reach the point when he or she needs to hire additional help?

Talk to any small business owner and he will tell you he does everything from clean the bathroom to order the paper to create, produce or manufacture the product or manage the project.

Since I was curious about whether it was time for me to have someone handle some of the load on my plate, I did a little research. Here’s what I found.

  1. Determine what kind of work you need and how long you will need an employee. Do you need a temporary, part-time or full time employee? To answer that question, take a look at your workload. If you know you will be busy now until June 1, you may want to hire temp workers. If you know the work load isn’t going to slow down, you may want to hire a full time employee. The first thing you need to do is determine how much your time is worth and how best to use your time. Is it better for your company’s bottom line to hire an office cleaner for say $75 a week to clean one hour a day which frees up five hours of your time to attract new clients and keep existing clients happy and meet deadlines.  Not meeting deadlines costs you money. For example, I met a man who makes custom designed bicycles. He is at that crazy point where he has 10 orders and two employees and each bike takes two months to make. Given he and his one employee can make one bike every two months or two bikes in two months that means customers 9 and 10 will be waiting awhile. And that’s not good for his business. He needs to hire at least a part-time employee.
  2. Employees groan when you add a new client. I have seen this happen time and time again. Instead of celebrating a new client, employees mutter when their employer isn’t listening about how they already are overworked and can’t imagine adding one more client. Unhappy employees are never a good thing. As an employee, make sure to communicate with staff and see how they are handling the work load.
  3. Mistakes are being made. When employees are overworked or are handling too many projects, they tend to make mistakes. And mistakes end up costing your company. For example, if a client ordered a chocolate cheesecake for her birthday and your staff gives her vanilla, you will end up with: A. An unhappy client who may not return; B. Bad publicity and C. Paying for the first cake that was a mistake and the second cake. Plus making another cake when you have six more waiting to be made.
  4. Are you maintaining or building your business? If you are just keeping up, you will eventually fail. Being a business owner means continually building the business so if one client leaves, you have one to fill its place. Treading water will eventually sink you.
  5. What’s your overtime? If you are seeing overtime going up, you need to ask yourself would you rather pay overtime or pay an employee your regular wage. By keeping an eye on overtime, it will help you determine if it’s time to hire a new employee.
  6. Customers are complaining. If you promised a client his project would be complete Feb. 1 and it’s now March 8, you are in trouble. Not only are you behind schedule, you are risking that client not returning to your business. If you hear things such as “Hey John, been missing you at chamber meetings” or “Susan, it’s been such a long time since you stopped in our business to see if we needed x, y or z” you are in need of a new employee.
  7. How is your time best used? If you are delivering your product instead of making sales or meeting deadlines, it’s time to rethink how best to use your time.
  8. One myth that really needs to be shattered is that we can be Super Man or Super Woman and if we just work harder we can do it all. As the owner of the company, it’s essential you value yourself, your skill set, your vision and your goals. Your business will succeed or fail based on the decisions you make. Now just determine if your business needs a temp, part-time or full-time. An additional employee – provided it’s the right one – will be welcomed by all on your staff and make the workload a little lighter.  There is only so much our plates can hold before they break. 

How to keep your business working.

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