Hiring Hacks! How to Get More Help on a Tight Budget
- Mandi Ellefson
Whether you recently started your business, or you’ve been at it for 20 years, there will always be more work to do and not enough hands to do it.
So there you are, hard at work but your biggest ideas still not brought to life.
As a busy entrepreneur, you’re faced with a common dilemma. Do you refuse to work more hours at the expense of staying stuck at your current growth level? Or do you make up the difference by working even harder at the expense of your personal life?
If you’re ambitious, maybe you chose the second path because you were told that it’s the only way to really “make it.” And it’s temporary, right? You put in the time and efforts that others aren’t willing to, so that you’ll reach heights others never will reach.
I get it.
I have been on both ends of the spectrum. And after years of hard knocks and experience advising small business owners, I found a better way.
And now I’m going to outline how to get started so you, too, can make faster progress in your business.
In the journey toward growth without sacrificing your life, a lot of effort goes into making things work in your business.
It’s easy to get bogged down in the day to day minutiae. And before you know it, you’re working more and more hours to keep up. Meanwhile, stress soars.
Things slip through the cracks and effectiveness plummets.
It feels like being on a hamster wheel, running around and around with you trapped working more and more just to keep up.
While you know your next step is to get more hands on deck, you wonder where you’ll drum up more cash for the support you need so you can focus on making more money and growth and get off the hamster wheel.
But you are truly passionate. It’s not all about money to you.
So you dig in your heels with the hope that it will get better. Most people think that the more successful they become, the easier it will be.
Except that’s usually not how it works. In fact, if anything, the opposite is true. I have found in connecting with and advising hundreds of entrepreneurs over the years, that…
The more successful you become, the more trapped you can become. And you’ll never be able to grow past this point until you do something different.
This transition time often feels like you’re really making traction. But resources are still not what you feel you need to move ahead. Essentially because…
At some point you WILL run out of hours that you can, or are willing to, invest in your business. What will you do then?
It doesn’t have to be this way. You don’t have to stretch yourself so thin that it’s impossible to focus on marketing, and growth—plus actually doing the work after you’ve made the sale.
You can actually free up your time to spend it marketing and growing your business, and not at the expense of your personal life and sanity.
It’s a deliberate intention you can create right now wherever you are in your growth cycle.
And to make the most progress for your growth stage, you need to consider…
Are You Doing $10 Per Hour Work, or $1000 an Hour Work?
What tasks are actually cheaper to pay others to do, rather than you do yourself? Consider what your time is worth when you’re not dealing with lots of little details—when you are in your strength zone, producing real value for your customers.
Perry Marshall, in 80/20 Sales and Marketing, introduces the concept of looking at your work based on the dollars per hour it will bring in. You can choose to spend your time on $10/hour admin work. Or you could spend that time on $1000/hour work, marketing and attracting new clients.
The great thing about it is that $1,000 an hour work is often more fun and energizing than $10/hour work.
For me, some of the $10/hour work, I’m actually pretty terrible at. Tasks like editing this post for grammar and typos used to take me hours to do on my own. It’s tedious and draining for me, but my staff is better at it and enjoys the work.
To move forward, you must invest ahead of your growth.
But let’s face it.
Traditional hiring is risky business.
Studies show 75% of hires will not be top performers, according to research conducted by Smart and Associates. Many entrepreneurs learn to get better results than that though, only after expensive trial and error will they figure out how to increase the odds of failure.
But it doesn’t need to be as risky and permanent as you think.
There are proven systems that you can follow to make the whole process simpler and safer. And there are ways to bake freedom and profitability into your business right from the start.
One of the most important pieces of the puzzle is leveraging your hours. Instead of increasing your own hours, you buy someone else’s hours.
If you are feeling resistant to relinquishing control, you can either decide to get over it and find a way to be successful. Or you can choose to micromanage every detail in your business and let it wear down your effectiveness in your strength areas.
This is the kind of business that will always be 100% dependent on you. So if you stop for a day, the money stops too. Basically you have a job with no safety net of sick days, maternity/paternity leave, bereavement, or vacation time.
If you’re not sure you can afford to hire someone (or you don’t want to commit long-term to someone you don’t yet know will work out) just know there are lots of options to buy other people’s hours at very low risk to you.
For a surprisingly low investment, you can take baby steps at and build up your business over time.
Below I listed 10 options to get more hands on deck no matter what stage of your business you are in.
When you already have the skills, it’s often cheaper and easier to outsource than if you don’t have the skill set. Notable exceptions are administrative type of work which typically is going to be cheaper to outsource then trying to come up systems on your own to do yourself.
3 Common Hiring Approaches
- Permanent office employees – Often a local arrangement when it’s cost effective to hire per hour and when you need control over their hours. You pay taxes, payroll, and are responsible for their well being.
- Permanent contractor – You can agree to ongoing work at a certain rate which can be lower if you commit to a certain amount of hours. Many internet-based businesses run 100% with contractors. You will need 1099 for US-based contractors, for non-US, you don’t. Check with your local laws to make sure you are in compliance.
- Equity Partners – DANGER! Most partnerships fail! I am a big fan of joint venture partnerships. But I don’t like business partnerships if you can avoid them. Proceed only with a very clear advantage that the partner brings to the table that you can’t find by simply hiring someone. Consider carefully! There is a very high failure rate for relationships with equity partners. I run into business owners all the time who team up, and it’s put a further strain on take home profits.
7 Other Ways to “Hire”
- Piece of mind subscriptions – Great for specific tasks that don’t make sense to do in-house. These can be very cost effective and higher quality than you or your team doing it. You are paying for an outcome, so there is no risk of a unexpected fat bill. For example, WP UP will manage all website updates, security issues, and unlimited changes to your website for just $100/mo. You can get quality design from undullify.com for $89/month. And instead of paying hourly to have your books done, you can count on quality bookkeeping from Bean Ninjas for about $200/mo. These are examples where you can hire out high skilled work for a great price because they have a tight process and ongoing subscription service.
- Outsource to contractor or firm – Good for when your staff lacks the skills or systems to do the task effectively. You can often get a much better ROI outsourcing certain skilled work. For example, Facebook ads, outsource to an expert versus trying to do them with a lower skill set in your company.
- Permanent Overseas VA – If you want full time support for either general or a specific skill set, VirtualStaffFinder from Chris Ducker is a good place to look. I have heard consistently excellent things about them. They find a VA specialist for you from the Philippines for an affordable $400-800/mo full time.
- Staffing agency – Can be good for specialized hiring where you can save a lot of money hiring a specialist by the hour that would otherwise be many thousands for a big engagement. This is a short term solution that can give you a good ROI for low level staff.
- Hire an expert to help you set up the systems – This is great when you are moving into uncharted waters. Instead of hiring a high level expert to work in your business, you can have them consult on the best processes to put in place that you can hire less expensive staff to execute. My team provides project management system setup so you can hire someone to do an excellent job for ½ the price it costs for a highly trained project manager to come in with the knowledge to set it up for you. Starting a podcast is another example of where you might utilize such an expert. The great advantage to having the system setup for you, is that you’ll own the system forever, and you won’t be reliant on any key staff for the process to run itself. So you could save a lot of money over time doing it this way.
- Interns – Careful here. Be sure to check with local laws to make sure you’re legit. Some interns can have low skills and not be confident self starters so they might need a lot of hand holding. Cheap can become expensive. Internships can be paid or non-paid. It can be a great way to try someone out before committing to hire them. But no matter what you do, be sure that you are both providing value to the business, and offering valuable experiences for the intern.
- Hire people per task – Several websites allow you to delegate affordable one-off tasks. Think local errands with Task Rabbit. Odds and ends like editing your photos, update your website, editing copy, etc. with Fiverr, Upwork, or Fancy Hands. Each have their strengths and quality varies dramatically, though there are quite a few gems. It’s most efficient to eventually have a project manager manage these people to free you up from wasting time with the back and forth.
How to Win the Hiring Game
To be as profitable and sustainable as possible, it is important to have the right skill sets employed in the right parts of your business. And you need a formula to rely on that gives you confidence when hiring new staff.
If you don’t, you’ll feel trapped with whoever you have on your team right now because chances are, your next hire will be just as bad (if not worse). Without a good system, you will likely be victim to the typical 75% failure rate of hiring top performers.
But now you have 10 different options to staff for your growth—on your terms. Don’t wait! Start where you are. Maximize what resources you have NOW and grow a lot faster!
Over to you. Are you ready to start handing off tasks to outsourcers or hiring employees? Do you have any questions or advice to offer?
Leave a comment below!
9 thoughts on Hiring Hacks! How to Get More Help on a Tight Budget
Thanks for sharing this informative post! It reminds me I need to check out Task Rabbit. It’s amazing how just some little things, taken off my to do list, can save so much time.
You’re welcome Cynda. Good luck with Task Rabbit! I’d love to try them, but it’s not in my area. I have my housekeeper help out with errands and local details sometimes.
I used IVAA ( ivaa.org/ ) to help make changes to my website and post new things. It was very reasonable and an easy way to update my site.
Great! Thanks for sharing!
1099 for me, a bunch of coaches, and maybe a full-time permanent personal assistant or two or three or more. Call me Lady Gaga.
Yup I prefer 1099 myself. Good luck hiring the personal assistants.
Hi, Mandi! This is an excellent resource for utilizing the leverage of other people’s work to build your business. I realized that for people like me who are building businesses while struggling with chronic illness (such as fibromyalgia), we can use freelancers and outsourcing to help us continue to work when we’re fighting a flare-up. I wrote about how we can use your tips and resources to essentially “clone” ourselves and continue to get work done even when our chronic illness isn’t letting us actually work!
Thanks for your post–I know this will be essential to helping people keep their business moving when they’d rather go back to bed. 🙂
Jennifer, this is a really great comment. This is *exactly* one of the reasons why I do the work I do.
Years ago, I ran into a problem where my family situation pulled me away from my business. And because I didn’t set my team up right, my growing business came to a stand-still.
It is so common for entrepreneurs to create businesses that are overly dependent on them. Then life, illness, and difficult family circumstances happen and it’s devastating to a business. This is at a time when the owner might need the income the most and stress is already at an all time high. Put the right structures in place to become a “Hands-Off CEO” and you create the freedom for yourself to enjoy life AND handle life as it comes at you.
Thanks for your comment Jennifer! Glad the article was helpful for you.
Great range of tips here! It really does all come down to your preference and comfort level. You have to build a relationship and trust the people helping you, otherwise you will never truly ‘let go’, you’ll just be paying someone while you babysit/QC…
I own/operate a virtual project management, operations management, and online marketing management firm. So, I’ve seen (tried and tested) many forms of support and services. If you decide to utilize virtual support, make sure you have a very clear set of expectations in writing, and don’t wait too long to terminate the relationship if it’s not working out.
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