Happy owner of store with help wanted signI have noticed that many people are hesitant to ask for help when they need it.  Maybe they are concerned about appearing weak or incompetent.  Or maybe they don’t fully understand the value of an outside perspective when dealing with challenges or an extra pair of hands to help with tasks.  If we do not see the value in something, we may be focused too tightly on the monetary expense.

Nowhere is this more obvious than it is with the owners of small businesses.  Many are reluctant to hire out tasks because they prefer to do everything themselves.  It can be something as mundane as filing or as specialized as web-site design, marketing, sales or accounting.   They believe they are saving money.  When I talk to them about hiring someone to help them, the most common response I hear is that they “can’t afford to hire anyone”.  My response to that is, “You can’t afford not to!”  I know because I was one of those small business owners who refused to hire help, so I am speaking from experience.

What entrepreneurs might not realize and what I learned the hard way, is that hiring others can increase their profits.  For example, let’s imagine you are a portrait photographer and you spend 2 hours a day, 5 days a week, retouching images.  If you hire someone part-time to do your image retouching, you will gain 10 hours each week.  That could equal 5 to 10 more portrait sessions each week or more time to network and grow your business.  Depending on the fees you charge for your work, you could conceivably earn enough money from just one of those added sessions or add one more new client to cover the cost of your part-time help that week!  What if you hired a part-time accountant to take care of your receivables and payables?  How about a maid service to keep the studio or your personal residence clean and tidy?

If your small business has taken over your life, by robbing you of time with your family, preventing you from taking a vacation or taking care of your health, it’s time to take a serious look at how you are spending your time.  The following is an exercise to help you get your life back and help you be more successful in business.

Start out by making a list of the aspects of your work that you are good at and absolutely love doing.  Then, list the things that even though you are good at those tasks, they take too much time or you really don’t like to do them.   Create one final list of the tasks you despise the most and put off until they absolutely must be done.  Now review the second and third lists with the intention to hire one or more people to do some of all of those tasks for you.  Are the tasks closely related to each other?  In other words, could one person handle all those tasks or do you need to split the work between 2 or more part-time people instead of one full-time person?  Can any of the tasks be given to a virtual assistant?

Now that you have a clear vision of exactly what tasks you want to hire someone to perform and how many people you think you might need, you can begin to research the costs.  Is there a local high school, business school or a university that could supply you with low cost interns to help you?  What does a virtual assistant or accounting service cost?

Once you have determined how much money you will need to generate to pay for your “team”, you can figure out how many hours of service or how many more “widgets” you would have to sell.   In many cases it means getting one more client or selling a few more widgets a month.  You could start with one part-time person who would give you more time to generate income and then expand your team as your business becomes more profitable.

Hiring a support team will free you up to do more of what you are great at doing, which increases your profits plus it gives you more time to do something other than work 24/7.  (An added bonus is it helps the local economy by giving jobs to people who need them.)

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