The biggest expense a business can face is hiring employees: not only do you have to apy an employee’s salary, but you have to buy equipment and software for them, pay payroll taxes, train them and cover a host of other expenses. At the same time, when you reach the point where you just can’t handle every task for your company yourself, you have to do something.
Because of those costs, it’s worthwhile to delay hiring your first employee as long as possible.
The Delay Automation Offers
The first place I worked, back in high school, was a small business, but required a full-time bookkeeper. I’ve never had a bookkeeper for my business, even on a part-time business. That’s because in less than ten years, bookkeeping has become a practically automated process — there are apps that don’t just tie directly into your bank accounts, but can import scanned receipts either from your own scanner or from cheap services that will scan your receipts on a regular basis.
Look for every possible piece of automation. The number of services available for smaller companies are exploding — you can even automate a lot of your human resources department when you get around to actually hiring.
Hiring Contractors Instead
There are pros and cons to hiring contractors, rather than bringing in an employee. In direct costs, you’ll usually wind up paying less — even paying a freelance designer $50 per hour can be cheaper than paying an employee $25 per hour. You can also get the benefit of working with a wider variety of people than you would be able to directly hire.
Contractors will definitely help you delay hiring your first employee. But it’s important to note that for most companies, a contractor isn’t going to be a permanent solution. After all, if you keep bringing in more contractors, someone has to manage all the bits and pieces of projects across the different people working on them.
The Work that Needs to Be Done
There’s work that obviously needs to be done, whether you do it, a computer program manages it or someone else entirely takes it over. You have to identify it so that you can figure out how to get it done — unless you want to pay a premium for your first hire, walk her in and tell her that the first project is to get you organized.
If you’re working with a partner or a cofounder, you may already be ahead of the game in that respect: you have to carefully manage your efforts anyhow, to make sure that you aren’t doing the exact same thing. That can help you identify concrete tasks that can be dealt with either by an employee or in some other fashion.
So, How Long?
There are a lot of variables when it comes to hiring your first employee. Of course, you have to have enough money to actually pay her — which means that even if you have more than enough work to keep someone busy, you may not have an employee. But for many businesses, it’s possible to put off that first hire for several years with the right approach to getting work off your own plate.
How long have you gone so far?
Image by Flickr user Will Merydith