Build Your Business:

When to Hire Your First Employee

By Bruce Ackerman, Contributing Writer

February 15, 2018

We know you are there. Sweating the details of every facet of your business because you are the sole employee. Lead salesperson, chief designer and CEO of your budding empire. But what once looked like it just might be a part time gig has now turned into a full-on bonanza.

The one nagging thing in your brain that constantly pings you is, “When do I get some help around here?”

How do you know you need to hire someone? Easy. Here are two easy to identify clues:
1. Are you turning down work because you just can’t get it accomplished?
2. Maybe your existing customers are upset as their order was late, or you just didn’t get the job produced with the quality you would have liked because you were rushing to finish.

Because you know that every minute you are cleaning screens or creating art, is another minute that you aren’t selling the next job or paying your sales tax. Your to-do list is a mile long, and it seemingly gets longer every day. But, hiring an employee can come with a lot of headaches, responsibilities and challenges. Are you ready for that?

If you need help, there may be some options that you haven’t thought of yet:

Temp Agency

These organizations provide temporary workers on an as-needed basis. What they will need is a job description and pay range for the duties of the worker you need. They will charge you a mark-up of the pay rate for the job. For example, if the job would pay $10 and the mark-up was 1.3, you’d pay $13 an hour to the company, and they would pay the worker the $10. The benefit of using a temp worker is that as soon as you aren’t busy anymore, you don’t have to lay anyone off or fire them. That worker will just get reassigned to another company for the day. Temp workers are great for easy-to-train jobs that don’t require a lot of skill — cleaning screens, catching shirts, boxing or bagging items, unloading a truck, even counting inventory. Longer-term temporary workers can be taught to run a press, mix ink, hoop and run an embroidery machine, or other more in-depth jobs in your shop. Many shops use temp workers as their “audition” to become a permanent employee, as you get to see how they will respond in real work situations.

Contract the Work

Some small companies contract duties out to another company to handle something for them. An example of this could be a bookkeeping service. Maybe paying your vendors and keeping up with sales tax isn’t something you want to spend your valuable time doing. Another example could be artwork creation. Many freelancers earn their living in this industry doing art for shops, as employing an artist full time isn’t something they are ready for yet. Why not contract these duties out to a professional service that can do a great job for you?

Maybe you only need someone to clean screens for you or take care of other simple tasks. Why not just have a person come in two days a week and take care of these duties? Depending on where you live, a college student, friend or relative may be able to assist you. This is a great option to turn to if you just want to test the waters and see if using an employee makes sense. Make sure you don’t offer them any promises you can’t keep, such as moving to full time. Give your expectations regarding their duties, pay and how the job should be performed.

Full Time

One thing is for sure, and that’s you’ll never grow until you can scale your company by producing more. Many shops make the plunge with hiring a full-time person to handle their duties constantly as that’s going to drive growth. A good example of this would be a salesperson or inside customer-service person. You can only grown your shop when there are sales that matter, and these two positions will help add some fuel to the fire. Like the part-timer, make sure you are clear on what the employee’s duties are and their main focus.

If you do decide to hire a worker, make sure you are abiding by local, state and federal guidelines. If you have any questions, your local authorities can help or you can turn to the Small Business Administration for guidance.

Bruce Ackerman is the founder of Printavo a cloud-based management tool for print, embroidery and sign shops.