You’ve been your own one-man or one-woman operation and everything has been going incredibly well – so well, in fact, that you think you might be ready to take on some help. While it can be challenging to let go and allow someone else to be a part of the business you’ve worked so hard to build, delegating is an essential part of growth.

But when is the right time to take this big step? You’ll need to write a job description, pore over resumes and interview candidates. Before you invest all that time, you need to make sure it’s the right move.

Here are three signs that you’re ready to hire your first employee.

When You Need Someone to Handle the Little Things

Your pantry is empty again, and you need to go grocery shopping, but you’ve got tons of social media posting to do, and then there’s that email that you need to compose and send out to all your clients letting them know you’re taking a few days off this month. Before you panic, consider hiring a virtual assistant.

This person is going to be your new best friend. They can schedule grocery delivery, post to Pinterest, send (and filter!) emails, purchase gifts for trusted clients, and keep track of your business expenses. If getting a lot of annoying little tasks off your plate so you can work on bigger things sounds amazing, you might need to hire a virtual assistant (if your business has grown to the point where you can afford it).

When You’d Love to Take on More Customers

If you’ve started telling your clients, to your regret, that you just don’t have time to take on any more work right now, then you know that it’s time to hire someone else to help out. You don’t want to lose business to competitors when clients are seeking YOUR help.

Keeping up with demand may mean bringing on a second shooter to your wedding photography business, or expanding into a full-stack development team instead of a back-end developer on her own. If this scares you, just remember that it’s fine to start with hiring a contractor – that way, if the new client or project doesn’t work out just as you planned, you don’t have to fire someone. On the flip side, if your business keeps growing and your new work relationship is going swimmingly, you can offer your new help a full-time or even salaried position.

When Your Clients Are Complaining

Maybe your customers are annoyed because they can never get through to you when they call, or your timelines are just way too long for them. Instead of seeing complaints as a disaster, look at them as a sign that it’s time to take on an employee to manage almost anything that’s making your customers upset.

Alternately, maybe you’re spending time in the back room on accounting that you could outsource to allow you more facetime with the customers that you love and want to keep happy. There are certainly some aspects of your business in which you are absolutely irreplaceable, and you know what they are.

For anything else, there’s hiring, and it can help you build your business like you’ve always dreamed.



William Lipovsky owns the personal finance website First Quarter Finance. His most embarrassing moment was telling a Microsoft executive, "I'll just Google it."

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