There comes a time in many small businesses when you have to consider whether or not you're going to hire employees.
Maybe you've reached the point where you need to grow, but you're not sure you're ready to bring on more people. Or maybe you want to stay small and lean, and don't want the bother of having employees. Or maybe it's just been a bad year (totally understandable in this economy!) and cash flow is crunched.
Whatever the reason, there's still work to be done. And today there are more ways than ever to get the work you need taken care of without hiring. Where you turn depends on what type of business you have, and your particular needs.
Here are a few suggestions on where you can get the workers you need for the work you need done:
1. Subcontractors and Freelancers
You aren't the only person who does what you do (even if you're the best!). Find a few good people you can call on when you have too much work and not enough time. Be sure to negotiate a price that will allow you to still make money on the job, though. Also, make sure you know how your client(s) feel about someone else doing the actual work. FYI...there are a lot of freelance websites on the internet where you can go to find quality people.
2. Virtual Assistants
More and more small businesses are turning to virtual assistants to help them grow and organize their businesses. VAs are independent contractors who work from home and provide a variety of professional, personal and office support. They can perform a variety of tasks, including general administrative work, writing reports, editing, creating marketing materials, making customer contacts, database development and maintenance, thank you notes...the list goes on and on. Some VAs also provide personal services to clients such as scheduling doctors' appointments, party planning, coordinating a move, and so much more. You can locate a VA through two professional organizations: Virtual Assistance U, and the International Virtual Assistants Association.
You can get temporary workers for just about any job you have - from answering the phone and general secretarial work, to manual labor...and everything in between. When you use temps, you get skilled workers, without having to pay benefits. Most temp agencies have stringent screening procedures make sure the workers they hire and send out have the necessary skills to do the job.
As part of their college training, many bright young students are available for temporary positions. Interns are mostly available in the summer, but many schools offer year-round internship programs. Depending on the school and the program, interns work for either very cheap or free. You, in turn, are to provide valuable on-the-job training. Different colleges have different requirements, so check with the one(s) where you think you'd have the best luck for your particular type of business.
5. Friends and Family
Who better to count on in crunch times than those closest to you? Asking for their temporary help - either on a volunteer basis, or at a reduced wage - can be a good way for them to be part of your business while providing the help you need. Get the kids involved as well! It'll teach them responsibility
6. Delivery services
Don't even think about hopping in the car and driving that brochure clear across town to the printer yourself. Remember, time is money! Instead, pick up the phone and call the delivery service. Delivery services will pick up and deliver just about anything to just about anywhere. They will charge you, but it's worth the price, believe me. And it is a legitimate client-billable expense. To find a reputable delivery service, look in the phone book, and/or ask around to see if anyone you know has any recommendations.
7. Contracted Services
When you need a specialized service on a regular basis, consider contracting it. Instead of hiring a bookkeeper, use an accountant. Instead of hiring a janitor, contract a janitorial service. Grounds upkeep, security, decorating, fish tank cleaning (yes, really!), plant maintenance, equipment maintenance, printing...all are services you can contract.
As you can see, there are many good ways to get the job done without actually adding people to the payroll. Whether to hire personnel, use an alternative, or use a combination of both depends on your business model and what makes the most sense for you and your small business.
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