SMALL BUSINESS EMPLOYEES
At some point in the growth of your small business you will no longer be able to do all of the work yourself. You will have to hire employees. Then, the success of your business will no longer depend entirely on what you can do and how well you can do it. At this point you enter a new dimension. Employees will now be doing some of that work. Now, the continued growth and success of your business depends on how well you can manage and motivate those people who are working for you, and no longer entirely upon what you do yourself.
My general recommendation is to avoid hiring full time employees until you absolutely have no other alternative. Part time employees and contract services are the way to start off. Use a professional anwering service to screen your calls instead of hiring a full, or part time secretary. Find a retired accounting clerk to help you with your accounting and bookkeeping, part-time. Automate and computerize everything you can to cut down on actual employee time and cost required.
If you do a cost analysis on a full-time employee versus a contract service, there is no real comparison. Additionally, contract services don't get sick days, vacations, expensive health insurance plans, or unemployment if you have to lay them off. Hiring only part-time workers is about on par with contract services, but require that you are set up to handle a payrolll. This is an additional bookkeeping requirement, but if you are using QuikBooks this is not a problem. Alternatively you can use a payroll service to handle this for you (slightly more expensive). A payroll service is nearly hassle free. If you are non-accounting oriented it is probably the best way to go.
If you are going to employ someone who might, in any way, later decide that they can do the same thing you can do, you are running the risk of creating a competitor. If you have no other alternative but to do this, the best protection is a strong non-disclosure agreement with a non-compete clause built into it. While these are difficult to enforce, they are the best protection available. There is a risk involved here which you should pay attention to.
A word about partners here... the idea of taking in a partner to help you handle increased sales volume and work load is also an iffy proposition. Short term this works very well, but longer term problems usually crop up. Nowadays the divorce rate is nearly 80%. While partners are not married, their relationship has many of the same characteristics, and that relationship is subject to nearly all of the same problems a marriage is. A good rule of thumb for a partner is if they have been a true friend to you for at least ten years, and you respect their honesty and integrity, you are good to go. Otherwise, stay away from this, you will likely be trading short term benefits for long term much larger problems.
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Small Business Helper Forum