There comes a point in every entrepreneur's life when they feel overworked and like they need an extra pair of hands to take their business to the next level. That feeling is typically followed by a concern over whether the business has enough money to hire and keep that help for the long term. If you’re at the point of needing a staff, but you’re not sure how or if you can afford it, this article was written with you in mind. Here we will discuss a series of questions that will help you figure out if it’s time to hire a support team.
#1 Do you have tasks that someone else can do?
There are a million and one activities that make a company successful. However, not every one of those activities have to be executed by someone with a unique set of skills. On one hand, in a bakery, some tasks must be done by someone with a working knowledge of the baking world. On the other hand, items such as checking out customers, cleaning bathrooms, and washing dishes can all be done by someone without a cake decorating background.
As you consider hiring a staff, make a list of activities that occur in your business and build a profile of the type of person that would make a good fit for that position. Do they need a certain type of education? Will they be working directly with customers? What time of day & how often would you need their support? Later down the line, this profile will help you with writing a job posting or identifying someone who is a good fit for your team.
#2 Are you operating in your expertise?
One of the hardest parts about hiring your first employee can be letting go. When you’re used to doing everything and making things happen on your own, it can be hard to bring in an outside person to do what you’ve been doing since the beginning.
Let’s be real. You didn’t start your own bakery so that you could wash dishes or go back and forth with customers about the details of a cake. No! You probably started your business because you enjoy baking or creating edible art, and people kept coming back to your business because they were pleased with your product.
As you consider hiring a staff, identify your areas of expertise, strengths and weaknesses. As much as you may love doing the jobs that fit your expertise and strengths, if you want to grow your business eventually you will need to hire and train someone to do what you do. The major struggle here is investing the time to truly train a person to be a success at these tasks.
When you hire a new person, if you feel the urge to say “I’ll just do it” during training, I want you to bite your tongue and sit on your hands. It might be difficult, but trust me you will thank yourself later if you allow your new staff to come in, learn, and become self-sufficient. If you always take over when they struggle, you will find yourself paying a staff that doesn’t meet your needs.
Moving on to your weaknesses. These are likely items that you don’t enjoy doing or tasks that take you a long time to complete. My recommendation is that you hire help in these areas first. For one, if you hire correctly, your new staff member will be strong in the area where you are not, which means they will likely be more efficient at doing the job and will take less time. Second, hiring a person for this area will make your job will feel that much more enjoyable since you won’t be forcing yourself to do something that you don’t like doing in the business.
#3 Will you be able to make more money?
Hiring a staff almost always boils down to a money decision (i.e. do we have enough money coming in to support hiring a staff?) However, I ask you to come at the decision from a different angle. How much more money would you make if you hired help?
If you could work solely in your area of expertise and you hired folks who were strong in the areas where you are weak, wouldn’t this create a dream team type atmosphere? If you didn’t have to do admin work or clean up duties, would you be able to fill more cake orders? If you hired someone to bake all of your treats and you focused on decorating, how many more orders would you be able to take during the week?
In addition to thinking through the current money that you have coming in now, calculate how much more money you could potentially make if your business was operating more efficiently. If you’re concerned about money, consider starting off with a part-time contractor and work your way into building a team. This will help you get the support you need while growing your team organically and at your own pace.
In conclusion, hiring a staff is not an easy decision but it is a necessary one if you want to create anything resembling a work-life balance for yourself. A staff is also needed if you want to actually grow your business beyond your own capacity. There is only so much you can do by yourself, and you don’t get any medals for wearing all of the business hats. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and no one expects you to go from being a solopreneur to a team of 10 overnight. Identify the type of team members you need, do the math then go for it. Once you bring on support, make sure to keep an eye on the numbers and then dial back staff hours as needed if the money isn’t flowing in as you expected.
Cyd N. Mitchell
Business Blogger, Retail Bakers of America
Cydni N. Mitchell (aka Cyd) is a Bakery Consultant and the Sweet Business Coach behind Sweet Fest®. Based in Atlanta, GA, Sweet Fest® is an online company that supports the business needs of the Sweet Community in the areas of professional development, marketing, branding and web design.
By trade, Cyd is an accountant & financial analyst with a Masters from the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is the Founder of the Sugar Coin Academy, an online business academy for business owners in the baking and sweets industry, and she is also the organizer of The Ultimate Sugar Show, Georgia’s Largest Annual Baking and Sweets Expo in Atlanta. She is also the Business Blogger for the Retail Bakers of America.