I've been there. Too much to do, but too little time. I know that I could expand my business if I made some additional effort to network, research, and upgrade my offerings. I also know that I'm already working 18 hour days between my business and my home -- where would I fit it in?
There are a few reasons why you may have avoided hiring extra help. They may include:
- You don't have enough work to justify a regular freelancer or employee, even if it was for just a few hours a week.
- You aren't sure how to find the best help for your needs.
- You don't trust giving away "company secrets" and access to your confidential information just to get a little help.
For most small businesses, there is no need for an extra employee. A few hours of contracted, freelance, or 1099 help would suffice. You will only need to issue them a tax document at the end of the year if they earn $600 or more in that tax year. You can write off their pay as an expense like any other. If the thought of expanding has you scared, this is one area where you can start slow and build as you get more comfortable.
As far as finding help, you might be surprised at where you can look. Yes, you might want to place an ad on a job board, work-at-home career site, or craigslist. You will end up with hundreds of applicants, however, which is something you really don't have time to sort through. (Remember why you are looking for help?) Your best bet may be to ask someone you already know if they would like a few additional hours of work a week. Many people are out of work or are looking to supplement their income. Do you have a mom friend who is savvy with a computer and would like to earn 2-3 hours of part-time income? Maybe you have a college-aged relative who could pump up their work experience by answering emails and doing your research for you!
You can keep most of your confidential business practices to yourself -- even when hiring out. Be careful of what you grant access to, especially in the beginning. You might want to give them the "busy work" that you have been putting off but that doesn't give away any secrets to your business. (Research, compilation of data, sending out correspondence, etc. are all things that you can safely entrust without fear of divulging your trade secrets.) As they give you reason to trust them, you may want to expand their duties to include screening your emails, proofreading your copy and blog posts, or handling social media accounts like Twitter and Facebook. (Remember, you are not asking them to replace you or your message. They are simply putting it into your systems so that you have time for other things.)
I challenge you to make of list of 25 things you would do to grow your business -- if you had more time. Is there 2-3 hours a week that you could use to accomplish a few? What is that worth to you? If the value is equal to or greater than the cost of hiring out, you have your answer.
Do you crave the kind of work we mentioned in this article? A career as a virtual assistant may be for you! Read our interview with someone who has built a thriving business in this niche for more information on how to get started.
*Photo by it's a foot via Flickr
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