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Old 06-09-2012, 08:44 AM
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Lightbulb Thoughts on hiring that 1st employee...

Hey gang,

I've gotten to the point where I think I need to hire an employee. I've been running a very successful IT Consulting company by myself for almost 2yrs. Most of the time I have more work than I can shake a stick at, rarely I'll go a day or two without an onsite and minimal inhouse work. If I had an employee, it could free me up to maybe advertise or visit potential new customers. At the same token, it would really make things tight paying an employee hourly. Perhaps finding a tech that would work for a percentage of what they were billable - that could take the financial pressure off initially vs someone hourly, but then again I can see the unfairness in just working for a percentage. I'm to the point where I'm usually onsite all day 9-6 five days a week, then i'm working back at my shop until the wee hours of the morning: repairs, reloads, clean-ups, etc. as well as remote support. I'm wanting to grow the business but I don't want to kill myself doing it...

Basically i'm looking to the community for input here. Thoughts, ideas, experience in this area. Any input would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 06-09-2012, 11:30 AM
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I was in your exact position 10 months ago. I had been running for about 18 months on my own and was starting to get snowed under with work.

I had the dilemma of should I grow or stay small..

I chose to grow.

I've still got him on. He's a great tech and the customers love him. I still get a bit jittery on the rare occasion when things get quiet, as it hurts cashflow.

But it has freed me up to focus on the higher tasks - such as more marketing. And as a result our business has grown. We are doing 2-3x turnover now that I have had my tech on.

I have actually just hired my 2nd employee - a young girl that is doing all of our calls, bookings and administration.

My tips to you would be this:

1. If you are concerned about the money - maybe start them off on part time. But you will quickly realise how beneficial it is to have an extra set of hands, and before long you will probably need him/her fulltime anyway.

2. Be very picky about who you hire. Only hire the cream of the crop. If you can't find any cream, you don't hire. Simple as that. I refused to hire just anybody.. they had to be great at their job.

3. If / when you do hire, make damn good use of your time that has been freed up. Don't rest on your laurels.. be focused on marketing, marketing, marketing!! Dedicate at least 5-10 hours per week to focus purely on ways to grow and expand your business.

It really comes down to what you want out of your business. Some people want to remain small. I don't think there is anything wrong with that - as long as you are making a comfortable living and not killing yourself through too many hours. If you are then you need to find a way to work smarter, not harder.

But if you want to help more people with your unique customer service experience, you simply cannot do it on your own. You need to find others who share your values and beliefs.

Best of luck to you!
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Old 06-09-2012, 02:15 PM
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At the same token, it would really make things tight paying an employee hourly

Nope, wrong idea. A FT employee will make you money. It may be tight for a month, but after that you will see value in the employee and it will earn you free time, more time to get new clients and overall your profits should be up.

This FT employee should remove this...then i'm working back at my shop until the wee hours of the morning: repairs, reloads, clean-ups, etc. as well as remote support.

Getting a new employee required this from me to get going.

--Set up payroll. If you can do it yourself, great. I hired it out.
--Set up unemployment insurance (done by the state usually)
--Set up workers compensation insurance (done by a private company, I use Zurich right now)
--Set up payroll taxes to be paid weekly. Do not pay quarterly, the hit is too large.
--Set up your Federal payroll taxes to be paid monthly.

Next, before you hire the employee I would do this:
--Create process and procedures sheets
--Think of every type of job you do and make that sheet
--Crate a short manual of operations of your expectations, payroll dates, schedule, late or call out, vacation time, holiday pay, etc.

Before you hire
--Think of the perfect employee
--Create a good job description
--Put out an call for an employee via papers, craigslist, etc.
--When they reply, insure they followed your instructions in the ad
--Do a phone interview first, be sure they can communicate as you prefer
--If they pass, do a short in person interview.

After that, it's all gravy. Insure yourself a training package too and follow it so they know everything you have going on, what their job description is, etc.
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Old 06-09-2012, 03:05 PM
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Sean (geeknz) and Lisa (callthatgirl),

Thank you both for your valuable input!

Sean I do want to grow, and I want to sleep, ha! So just as I was terrified when i took the plunge into self-employment - i need to take the plunge into hiring an employee.

Lisa - I never thought about procedures and documentation on how I wanted to do things. The legal stuff, yes, that was in the back of my head - but how I want things done, etc. I just didn't think about that.

Again, Thank you both very much for your input!
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Old 06-09-2012, 06:11 PM
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I have been on both sides of this, and found this works for us.
Start out with a part time contract employee (1099). Gives you a chance to test skills, performance, and peronality over an extended period, without the hassles of firing if things don't work out.

Give them the shop work first. They don't have to talk to customers , so they cant steal your clients ( a big worry on TN about contractors, but not been a problem for me) Check the work habits, thoroughness, documentation, etc. Teach your preferred way of doing things.

You may have to go through several people before you find the right combination of skills and someone you can work with and trust.

When you are comfortable, start taking the tech with you on some calls. See how he or she handles clients and unexpected problems. Once again, teach your preferred ways of doing things, its your business and on site when you are not there they are the face of it, not you.

I started this way, was an independent contractor for 3 firms at the same time, doing overflow and work they couldn't get to. I found I was getting most of my work from 1 guy and now we work together and are checking out some people to work with us.
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Old 06-09-2012, 11:43 PM
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Most everything has already been covered, but I just wanted to add a few thoughts.

First off, as already mentioned, be picky about who you hire. Prioritize characteristics and skills according to what you want them to do. As any shop owner, I needed an experienced tech who was good at what they do, but I also needed one that was good with people and could be the face for my business when I was not in the shop. I also needed someone who could sell and ultimately make me more money.

I wont go into to much detail, but basically, I was not looking for a closet case that was weird, had no social skills or that did not practice good hygiene. Unfortunately, just about everyone around here that thought they were a tech fit that bill. I finally had to hire the least qualified guy (I literally threw his resume in the trash in the beginning) and he ended up being the best tech and employee I have ever had. While he was the least qualified as a tech, he had a lot of common sense and within 3 days, he learned more than some of my past techs in 3 months. He is also very capable of upselling our services and retail -- which in turn makes me more money as well as him since I pay him commission.

Anyways, point being, figure out what matters most for your business and find the person that suits that need. Keep growth in mind as well and make sure they are going to fit your future needs as well as your current needs.
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Last edited by PCX; 06-09-2012 at 11:46 PM.
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Old 06-10-2012, 02:06 AM
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I agree, I hired my guys as contractors first too. I had 4 of them to start, then moved them all to employee status at one time.
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Old 06-10-2012, 05:11 AM
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Thank you all sooo very much for your input! Although new to the forums, I appreciate how everyone jumped right in to help me out. Looking forward to seeing all of you again throughout the forum and as time progresses. I'll be sure to update my "seeking employee" status periodically. Thanks again, everyone take care!
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