For some, it may start in a moment of frustration. For others, it may be a moment of invigoration or inspiration. Either way, the moment when you realize, “Yowza, I really need help!” to run your business more effectively and efficiently is the moment to take action.
It’s a huge step to go from thinking of yourself as a small “nano-preneur” with no one depending on you to thinking of yourself as a burgeoning business that needs to hire. Up until now, you have been doing it all. But once you realize you need some help, it will stay with you. And suddenly, knowing you’re getting some help where it’s needed most, the road seems happier and less cumbersome.
However, there’s a great deal to think about before you put someone on your payroll. In the following four Business Know-How articles (including this one), I will cover:
- Deciding you are going to hire someone
- The government, you and your employee
- The reality of working with someone else
- The end of the relationship.
All the way through, I will provide checklists and points of things to consider so you are aware of potential issues and challenges. Take some time to jot down your answers to the questions below to help you clarify your hiring needs. Here we go!
- Why do you need someone in the first place?
- Why now?
You and Your Finances
- How are you going to pay for someone to work with you?
- Have you talked to your bookkeeper or a business mentor?
- What are the potential hidden costs besides payroll?
- Will you offer health insurance?
- Will you offer sick/holiday leave?
- What about social security, withholding, workman’s comp (I’ll be covering this in Part 2)?
- Will you offer continuing education and classes to improve employee skills?
- What is the amount you can/want to pay your employee?
The Person You’re Looking For
- What are the skills and knowledge you need?
- Are you looking for someone to help you make jewelry or to help out in other areas of the business (i.e., bookkeeping, social media, customer relations)?
- Where are you looking for potential help?
- Full-time or part-time?
- An official employee or a subcontractor to do piece work?
- What benefits are you offering?
- Will you be paying by the hour, job or a commission?
- Will they be working from their home/studio or from your space?
- Do you have adequate space and equipment for an additional person?
- Will you set up a trial period?
- Create a list as detailed as possible of the responsibilities and requirements of the job. This is, of course, a working document and can be changed and updated at any time.
- Are there specific times of the year when you will require your employee to work, such as pre-holiday, before or at a craft show, special events on weekends? They need to know this before committing.
- What type of personality are you looking for?
- What are the needs of your potential employee? Make sure to ask him or her.
- What are their skills, work background, references? And do they have any special needs?
- Are there times the employee can’t work due to personal reasons? When are they?
- Do you have the time to invest in training someone to work for you? No matter how qualified the person, there is always a period of adjustment and learning. You will have to be an active, non-judgmental part of this process to be successful.
- What exactly are your expectations from the employee as far as work goes?
- What do you expect to get personally from your new employee: more free time? A friend? Colleague? Someone to collaborate with and bounce ideas off of?
- How strong are your communication skills? Will you be able to explain what you want and need on a regular basis and for special projects clearly, distinctly and patiently? And probably numerous times?
Situations to Be Prepared For
- No partnerships! If you want to bring someone in, bring them in to work for/with you, not to be part of the business. Most partnerships fail. Be very cautious of this business structure.
- Family and friends. This can be fabulous and it can also be painfully difficult. Working with someone you have an intimate relationship can come with a lot of issues, but most people agree it usually works really well if handled with caution, thoughtfulness and probably a good business counselor.
- How are you going to handle conflicts and difficult personal situations such as…
- Loss, theft, security, damage and breakage?
- Intellectual property?
- And will you institute a no-conflict agreement with the employee for skills they may have learned and want to use after they leave your employ.Especially in jewelry/arts how will you handle?
There are many things to consider when bringing a person into your business and probably to a degree into your life and potentially your home. Spend your time wisely by planning ahead, knowing what you want and your short-term and ultimate goals not only for your business, but yourself and your new employee.
In Part 2, you will learn what you need to know about your responsibilities as an employer when it comes to the government.
Marlene Richey started a jewelry design firm with no prior business experience. During the 35 years since, Marlene has run a wholesale business and a retail gallery, participated in hundreds of craft and trade shows, and traveled across America selling the pair’s jewelry. She has served on the boards of SNAG, CJDG, Maine Craft Association, Metalwerx and WJA. Marlene consults with artists, teaches workshops and was professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology and Maine College of Art. She is also a contributor to various jewelry and craft publications and wrote an award-winning book on running a jewelry business, Profiting by Design. Have a business question for Marlene? Leave it in the comments section below and she’ll get back to you.