How did you know when it was time to hire your first employee? What were your first employee’s title and responsibilities?
Although I know taking the leap of faith and hiring an employee would definitely propel my growth forward, I haven’t taken this step yet.
For the last 7 seasons of my business, I’ve relied on freelancers. Freelancers for design work, set-up work, accounting help, and website support.
This has allowed me the flexibility to close my doors as I like, travel with my family for long periods, spend Mondays and Tuesdays at home with my youngest, take the number and type of events that I know I can handle well, and to keep operations streamlined and simple. I’m lucky to have a pool of talented freelancers in my area. Some are studio owners like me, some are parents who aren’t interested in full-time (or even part-time) work, and some are pinch hitters that I can reach out to as needed.
I am definitely open to finding a “number two” type of person, but the process intimidates me! Finding a person with an equal amount of drive, passion, and investment in my business feels exhausting and time consuming. However, in the fall, both of my kids will be in school Monday-Friday, so this may be my time to start the search. As we all know, a tremendous amount of work goes into running a studio well, and although having no employees has kept things financially simple, I am starting to feel the burden of facing every decision alone.
Susan McLeary (Passionflower)
When I had a retail business my first employee was an over-the-counter sales person/order taker/public relations position. I hired someone who worked in another retail business who was very personable, chatty and knew pretty much everyone in the community.
Hitomi Gilliam AIFD (Design358)
This is a fabulous question and I will be 100 percent honest about this in hopes it will help someone. I had a dear friend in my life who was watching me struggle with the household responsibilities of five kids and running a business. Oddly enough, this was before I really got busy, but my friend said to me “You’re like a rubber band that keeps stretching and stretching. If you don’t get help you are going to snap”. So, believe it or not, my first employees were a trash man and someone to help me with the laundry. Just admitting I needed help and getting someone in to help with household stuff was a huge start for us. Every non-essential job that you can let go of frees you up for the important tasks that you need to be doing as the owner. Each employee we have added to our team came with an incredible amount of fear, but somehow it has all worked out. If you don’t take the chance you might just snap, but realize that having staff means you have a big responsibility to keep generating income and to keeping them employed. With new staff comes growth and change for the better, but it certainly also comes with some new challenges.
Holly Chapple (Holly Chapple Flowers)
As we do weddings only, we do not have regular full time employees. We only hire free-lancers based on the events we are decorating. Some of them are experienced florists, others are just here to help carry material. They also have various responsibilities, but I (Laetitia) usually keep the overall management for myself and remain the main designer as I want my events to display my “floral touch”.
Laetitia Mayor (Floresie)
My best advice to any small business owner is to hire an employee as soon as possible. It’s nearly impossible to grow your business if you are stretched too thin, which you will be from almost Day 1. Customer service will suffer when you have too much on your plate. Unhappy customers do not build a business. So while it seems like a huge and nearly impossible idea to add paying someone else to your start-up expenses, it’s really the only way to make for great customer service, which ultimately leads to a growing business. And it’s the only way to achieve a sustainable and balanced business model that keeps you loving what you do instead of burning out.
Jennie Love (Love ‘n Fresh Flowers)