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Growing Pains

By Cristina Garza

Your business has grown to the point where you can't take care of everything yourself any longer, and your spouse or significant other already has a job. You need to hire someone to handle some of the workload - but what part of the workload, and what kind of "someone" do you need? Which of the cases below describes your dilemma?

  1. You need time to focus on your current top priorities, but your phone won't stop ringing and your email inbox is overflowing, and you can't afford for your customers to feel neglected.
  1. You're so busy managing the current workload that you don't have time to go out and get the next job, so when the projects currently underway wind down, so will your income.
  1. You're making money. You charge everything to a credit card or two, pay the bills when they arrive, and there's money left over to transfer to your personal account when you need it. You're not sure how much you've made, but you're definitely doing better than  breaking even. You put the bank statements, credit card statements, and receipts in a file box and plan on dropping the box off with your CPA sometime between January 1 and  April 15. The tax preparation bill last year was atrocious, but what can you do?
  1. Cash is tight. You're working 60 hours a week, and can't seem to get ahead. You're  certain you should be making more money, but either your customers aren't paying, or your expenses are higher than they should be - and you're too busy making ends meet to figure it out.

Do one of those four scenarios describe your situation? If so, there are some strategic staffing moves you should consider.

  1. If you're living in Scenario #1, you need a traffic cop - or, what used to be called a secretary. A secretary works closely with you, learning your business, your personality, and your preferences, so s/he can anticipate both your needs and your reactions, and knows when to interrupt and when to take a message. Secretaries gather information, present it to you for your decisions at convenient times, and then carry out your instructions; allowing you to focus on your current priorities while everything else is being taken care of in the background. A good secretary can double your productivity at half your salary, so you should give serious consideration to making this your first staffing move.
  1. In many industries, if you're not focusing on getting new business, you're at most a few months from bankruptcy. You need someone to focus on servicing your current customers, freeing you to go after new business. The skill set required will vary with the nature of your business. If you're in real estate, you may need a junior agent or licensed assistant. If you sell a product over the Internet, you need a customer service representative with access to all the relevant information. This person will be dealing with your customers on a daily basis, so you will need to ensure s/he has professional knowledge, adequate tools, exemplary communication skills, and unfailing integrity.
  1. Congratulations - you're apparently winning at the small business game. You know you need help to deal with the expanding workload, and you're pretty sure you can afford to hire someone. You might already have someone you're paying as an independent contractor handling some of the overflow, and you're getting a vaguely uneasy feeling that you might be in trouble come tax time. If this describes you, you need a bookkeeping service like Miley Cyrus needs adult supervision. You might need a secretary, or a CSR, as well, but having someone working in the background to get your financial records organized and make sure you're in compliance with the maze of payroll, employment, sales tax, and other regulatory burdens will save you a lot of time, money, and grief down the road.
  1. If you're identifying with the overworked and underpaid entrepreneur, you need a little more than just a bookkeeping service. You need someone to go through your financial records, make sure you're billing (and getting paid) for your work, and hopefully identify some ways to improve your company's financial performance. Perhaps a company that specializes in small business accounting, with diverse experience, and a staff accountant with an MBA would be helpful.

Need help getting out from under a pile of papers and back to doing the things you love? Give us a call, we can help set you free.