When you first started out, you were excited to take on all work. When you got home at night you’d catch up with the paperwork and see if you were still on track with the business plan you wrote on a napkin at the diner that one night. Remember the plan? The one where you have a successful business, and more free time? Now, things are a little different, you’re consumed by your business and spending long days trying to keep up with the work.

People like you, they love your personal touch and the fact that you really care about their water, but that personal touch is keeping you away from those you love. You’re working more for your business than it is working for you. It’s definitely time to make a change.

The thought of hiring help is intimidating to many entrepreneurs, since you’re allowing someone else insider access to your business and you must entrust them to interact with your clients. This should not be a scary subject, especially when approached pragmatically.

When I coach dealers on situations like this we start with three important questions that help us decide whether to outsource a project or to hire an employee:

  • Why do I need help?
  • What help is needed?
  • How long do I need the help for?

In today’s economy, outsourcing makes sense; you’re able to bring in an expert for a defined amount of time without a long-term commitment to salary and benefits, which delivers operational efficiency while saving money. Outsourcing isn’t the answer for everything, the biggest negative of outsourcing it that the person you’re outsourcing to has other clients as well, and you’ll sometimes have to wait your turn before things get done.  Outsourcing is common for the following tasks:

  • Telephone Answering
  • Bookkeeping
  • Marketing
  • Web Design
  • Online Presence Monitoring and Promotion
  • Plumbing and installation

If the help you need requires complete schedule control, and isn’t realistic to outsource (like a service technician), then it’s time to take the plunge and hire an actual employee.

Don’t fall into the trap of “scope-creep”, where the employee eventually becomes a “go-fer” for their disorganized employer. To prevent this problem, look at what you do in the business right now, and what you expect yourself to be doing once your new employee is hired. More importantly, limit yourself to where you are truly the most effective, and empower that new employee to succeed by not micromanaging. Write down what the job actually entails:

  • Compensation
  • Time Commitment (Employer and Employee)
  • Actual Responsibilities and the skillset required

Advertising the position

If you want good candidates, you have to sell them on investing their time and labor in your organization. Just as you get some of your best sales from referrals, look inward to your network of friends, family, associates, mentors, industry peers, and existing employees for recommendations. After looking inward, advertise in trade journals and online.

Interviewing and Checking References

When you interview a candidate, remember that this is a two-sided affair, don’t be surprised or offended if they have as many questions for you, as you do for them. Checking into your potential new-hire’s background is normal, and it is acceptable to verify education, and prior employment history. Be careful however not to ask questions about age, race, religion, disabilities (unless they have an actual bearing on the ability to do the job and require special accommodations), national origin, religion, or marital status, as they are considered possible forms of employment discrimination. Pre-employment drug-screening is appropriate, but a discussion about their use of legal pharmaceuticals is not.

Set up minimum recordkeeping

Three important things are required:

  • Federal Income Tax Withholding
    Every employee must provide an employer with a signed Form W-4 (Withholding Allowance Certificate) on or before the date of employment. This form is used internally by the employer and doesn’t need to be submitted to IRS, but must be retained for at least four years.
  • Federal Wage and Tax Statement
    Each year, employers must report wages paid and taxes withheld for each employee to the federal government. This report is filed using Form W-2 (Wage and tax statement). Employers must complete a W-2 form for each employee who they pay a salary, wage or other compensation. Remember to send Copy A of all W-2 forms to the Social Security Administration by the last day of February to report the wages and taxes of employees for the previous calendar year. In addition, send copies of W-2 forms to employees by Jan. 31 of the year following the reporting period.
  • State Taxes
    Depending on the state where your business, and employees are located, you may be required to withhold certain state income taxes.

Ensure Employee Eligibility Verification

Federal law requires employers to verify an employee’s eligibility to work. Within three days of hire, employers must complete Form I-9 (employment eligibility verification) to confirm the employee’s citizenship or eligibility to work legally in the U.S. You can only use documentation specified on the I-9 form to verify eligibility. You do not need to submit the I-9 form but should keep it on file for three years after the date of hire or one year after the date of the termination, whichever is later.

Register with your state’s new hire reporting program

All employers are required to report newly hired and re-hired employees to a state directory within 20 days of their hire or rehire date.

Obtain Workers’ Compensation Insurance

All businesses with employees are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance coverage through a commercial carrier, on a self-insured basis or through their state’s Workers’ Compensation Insurance program.

Post Required Notices

Employers are required to display certain posters in the workplace that inform employees of their rights and employer responsibilities under labor laws.

Grow that business!

Hiring an employee means an increase in monthly expenses. Now that you’re going to free up your valuable time, you’ll have more of it to strategize, market, and execute your business plans. Get out there and grow your business!

As published in WQP Magazine – February 2014