There are good points to either option, so the answer is: it depends!
There comes a point in most any business when you will be at a crossroads. You will need to decide on a path: to remain status quo, to grow your income with your current team without overloading them, or to grow your team to expand your business. Are you at the point where you feel you are ready to hire and grow your team?
If you are thinking about the last path, you have another decision to make: hire or outsource? These are two very different ways of dealing with the same issue and there are implications, both good and bad, in both
If you’re thinking about hiring.
Hiring employees comes with a host of responsibilities. You need to pay them a consistent wage or salary, you will to manage deductions at source for things like CPP / EI, as well as pay employer portions of these. You will have to factor in vacation, sick and personal time and decide about benefits. Ideally, if you are hiring employees, you have an actual location for them to work from, but that’s not a deal breaker. Assuming you’re good with all of the above, then here is what you need to consider next:
Job descriptions—You really need to spend some time thinking about WHAT the job description will be, what you will require the person to do and what skills they need to have. It’s essential to have a clear picture of your ideal candidate, both in terms of your needs and their skills, so that you can explain the role to them adequately and ask the right questions to make sure they are a good fit. If you’re not clear on the job description, you will spend a lot of time vetting applicants who are not qualified.
Vet more than hard skills—There is a lot to be said for soft skills, like communication, social presence, attitude, organizational skills and so on. Someone may have the correct qualifications on paper but not have the people skills the position really requires, a fact that you won’t be aware of if you don’t spend time looking at those softer skills.
Maintain the job description—It is important to be very clear with your expectations: what the job will entail and how you expect tasks to be completed. Part of this is handy if things go wrong with the hire. If you are clear on what you expected, preferably in writing with a hiring contract, you can hold them to those expectations come time for a review.
Trust your gut—In hiring, there is a lot to be said for following your intuition. Obviously, you don’t want to ONLY trust what your gut is telling you about the candidate sitting across from you, but it’s a useful tool. Every time I have had one of those moments of “this isn’t going to go well” or “hopefully they will get better”, I have always regretted it because they didn’t get better.
Take your time—It’s important not to grow too quickly or to hire just anybody simply to get it done. Hire slowly, one team member at a time. Integrate them into your business, spend the time having “touch points” with them and check ins. Ensure they fully understand your business and what their role is in supporting and growing it.
The best advice I was ever given when it comes to hiring was from Lisa Larter. She said “hire slow, fire fast”. I follow this advice all the time now and I am constantly reminded of the importance of it. The times I didn’t follow this mantra, I regretted it. Part of it is that I don’t listen to my gut and end up having to fire fast. A team is only as good as its weakest link and when somebody is holding things back, by not being a team player, then it pulls your business down too.
If you’re thinking about outsourcing.
Outsourcing comes with less responsibility, from a human resources point of view. You aren’t responsible for a freelancer’s taxes, CPP, vacation or sick days. But outsourcing also tends to come with a few more unknowns: can you afford to outsource? Will it work out and how will it work? Can you trust them? Here are a few points to consider:
What’s the cost of NOT outsourcing?—You have to ask yourself what tasks you are performing in the execution of your business that are taking too much time away from what actually makes the money, and are therefore costing MORE by not outsourcing it. For example, it takes most people hours to deal with their bookkeeping, partly because they’re not familiar with all the rules and partly because it’s just not in their wheelhouse to do that kind of work. What if those hours were spent actually focusing on your area of genius instead, while the bookkeeping was outsourced? What would be the profit margin on that?
Eliminating tasks that you hate—There is nothing wrong with taking tasks off of your list that you dread. In fact, it’s more productive to outsource things that you can’t or dislike doing because far less time will be wasted doing them, or avoiding them! Since time IS money, this is not an insignificant factor to consider!
Cost is calculable—Depending on what you are outsourcing, you should be able to estimate the costs and factor that into your cash flow budget. And don’t forget that outsourcing doesn’t always mean tasks that are directly related to your business! Sometimes, outsourcing things like housecleaning or yard work is just the ticket to give you the extra time you need to focus on your business while eliminating a task that doesn’t directly contribute to it.
A lot of the same points apply to outsourcing as to hiring, when it comes to choosing whom or what company to outsource tasks to:
- Be very clear with expectations on the tasks/job up front.
- Stay connected and have clear communication with the person/company you are working with. Having consistent touch points where you can get updates is invaluable!
- Find someone / a company that you can build trust with.
- Don’t settle for any warm body: find the best fit you can! A trial run is always a good idea to make sure the fit is good, on both sides.
Hiring and outsourcing for the first time can be very scary but can have very positive results for your business. On the flip side, I have seen business owners outsource too much, reaching a point where they could no longer afford it. Know what you can and can’t do, financially speaking, and make the choice that will allow you to grow your business in a manageable way.