After a while of building your small business, things get busy. That time you were spending on doing your social media, working on your SEO and writing your blogs has slipped away into a black hole of work. It’s time to bring someone on. 

It happens to us all. I’ve had to bring on people to help me schedule and plan my social media out. I get an AI program to help me choose my blog and podcast topics. And sometimes I even have to pay someone to make my videos and graphics. We all get busy doing the stuff in our business, so taking the time to work on the ongoing marketing is hard. That’s when you need to start looking at who you can get in to help you with all this stuff. And you inevitably have to ask yourself whether you should employ someone, contract them or outsource it offshore. 

While it may seem noble to invest in someone as a full time or even part-time or casual employee, it’s not really the best place to start when you’re still in the earlier stages of growing your business. People are almost always going to be the most expensive thing in your business. Over a long period of time, they cost more than property and machinery. So if you’re still making less than 4 times what you need to live on, bringing on an employee is going to take a huge chunk out of your profits.

As a rule, I don’t take on an employee until I know that I have 6 months of their wages, superannuation and tax saved aside. This is so I can afford to take a 6-month loss on them before they start to be a profit centre for me. This takes into account training, reduced productivity as they’re learning, and the inevitable unexpected downturns in sales that happen to all of us. 

It will likely be more realistic in the earlier years to contract people to help you out. This is because there are no award wage rules or set rates when you contract someone. They quote their rate, you accept it and you get underway. If you have lots of work for them, you’ll pay more. If there’s less work, you’ll pay less. But understand that the lack of commitment from you comes with a lack of commitment from the contractor too. They can take on other work while they are working for you as well. And that could very well be with your competitors. Most contractors have a personal code of ethics and would either not take on work that comes with a conflict of interest, or would ask your permission first.

Bear in mind too, that you will almost always pay more per hour to a contractor than an employee, however, you will also avoid all the added tax and super admin that comes with taking on an employee. 

Finally, there’s the offshore outsourcing model. You’ll pay way less per hour – often up to 80% less, you’ll have the same low maintenance approach that you’ll have with contractors, but there are some downsides. Communication can be an issue and so can the misunderstanding of expectations. While you might be tempted to outsource your stuff to someone on Fiverr or Airtasker, there’s always a risk that the work will be substandard or they will completely miss the brief. There is a long training and learning curve before the offshore staff will be making a good return for you. But once they do, it’s so worth it.

Dante St James is the founder of Clickstarter, a Facebook Blueprint Certified Lead Trainer, a Community Trainer with Facebook Australia, a digital advisor with Treeti Business Consulting, an accredited ASBAS Digital Solutions advisor and presenter, and the editor at The Small Marketer. You can watch free 1-hour webinars and grow your digital skills at Dante’s YouTube Channel.

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