I don’t know who needs to hear this today, but: You don’t have to do everything!
It might seem counterproductive to your business (especially if you’re a solopreneur) but the reality is, nobody can do everything themselves.
Being a tax accountant isn’t going to solve your marketing issues. Making the best cakes as a baker isn’t going to help you write copy for your blog.
But in a market currently experiencing a global staffing shortage, to spend time and resources searching for a new hire might not seem worth it.
Don’t worry though. There are lots of ways you can approach hiring for jobs you can’t do yourself, including outsourcing. Below are some pros and cons of each hiring approach. Some of them might surprise you.
Start With Automating Everything
This is the number-one thing you can do for your business right now that will have the most impact.
Automation can help you save tons of money you’d otherwise have spent on hiring someone. It’ll also save you time training someone to manage the nuances of your business.
Unfortunately you can’t automate everything. For those jobs, there’s hope on the horizon.
Hire a Freelancer
One way you can get some of those odd jobs done is to find a freelance professional.
Freelancers can help you complete time-limited, project-like work. For example, once you’ve designed your business’s logo or branding, you don’t need to keep paying to use them.
Like the aforementioned logo or branding work, freelance projects can be general or more niche, depending on your industry.
As an electrician for example, you might hire a freelancer to go through your website and ensure you’re complying with current industry legislation. Or as a beauty therapist, you might hire a photographer to take pictures of all your different services.
Regardless of the work you assign a freelancer, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. Freelancers tend to come in two categories. Some are highly experienced who want to be their own bosses, others are non-experienced and want work to expand their portfolio.
Neither one is inherently better than the other, but use caution and intuition to ensure you’re picking the right person for the job. If one quote is significantly cheaper than others, it’s likely they’re inexperienced. This is fine if you’re on a budget and the project has low visibility.
Ultimately, finding the right freelancer for you is about discussing the work and your business. When you interview them, they should demonstrate interest, ask questions and illustrate how they might carry the work out.
Pros: Scope of work only. Helps you save money in the long term.
Cons: Hard to find one that fits your business; may be too experienced/inexperienced.
If you have ongoing work that demands attention on a regular or semi-regular basis, then look to hire someone part-time.
A part-time employee is technically a staff member, but works only for a fraction of the time. For example, an accountant might work part-time for several businesses if they only need to work, say, once a week to sort paperwork.
You might need a blog writer to create a regular piece for you once a month. Or a social media guru to post for you a couple of times a week. Either way, the work is ongoing, and requires particular expertise.
This is the important part when hiring someone part-time. Having them on-staff means you only need to invest in training them once, unlike hiring a freelancer or just paying someone to do it for you.
Importantly, in light of the “Great Resignation,” current global staffing shortages are a problem. So to avoid losing someone you’ve already trained, you’ll want to offer them regular, consistent work.
This is where part-time shines: You can provide stable income without having to hire them full-time, all while retaining their loyalty and expertise.
This kind of work does have downsides, however. Depending on your industry or country, part-time employment laws may vary. So ensure you’re up-to-date on what those entail.
Hiring someone part-time is a good way to ensure work is done properly, regularly and efficiently. That is, if you can invest the time to train them.
Pros: Regular jobs get done more effectively and efficiently.
Cons: Requires a greater time investment in training initially. Must be a hired employee with all necessary rights associated.
You’ve probably heard this term if you’ve ever watched any political or legal show on Netflix.
Having someone “on retainer” means you pay them a stipend (like a monthly salary) to be on “stand-by” should you ever require them.
The most visible of these is having an attorney on retainer to address legal advice. But there are other jobs you may not realize could be on retainer as well.
For example, a bookkeeper can be “on retainer” for time periods when your industry experiences heavy seasonal work. An agricultural firm might need retainer employees when “harvest season” comes about and need more people on site. They may not know exactly which day the produce will come in, but need that bookkeeper when it does.
Because the need for retainer employees depends on industry and seasonality, employers often overlook this option. But having someone on retainer means they’ll be available to come in and do the work for you ASAP.
After all, you’re paying them for the security that they’ll be there when you need them.
For businesses with high seasonality, this is usually a must, as well as for industries with important audit periods.
Hiring on retainer can be a more expensive way of ensuring you have the right person for the job, but at least you’re not stuck trying to find someone at the last minute.
Pros: You can have an “on-demand” employee whenever you need them.
Cons: Will probably only be viable for businesses with high seasonality, high turnover.
Employing an Agency
Lastly, we come to agency work. Agencies are other businesses that can take charge of your work and carry it out for you. This is the most common way for businesses to outsource their work. You can outsource almost anything — even hiring!
Agencies work in many industries, but have the same process. You give them a brief, agree to a scope of work, and then they carry out the work.
Jobs can be project-like, requiring the agency to provide you something by the end of the contract period. They can also be ongoing, where you hire the agency to provide things like social media posting, photography, marketing and more.
Or they can be on retainer, for when your business needs to hire people fast but doesn’t have the resources to do so.
In this manner, agencies are a kind of catch-all to all of the above (thus their popularity). Agencies usually form close bonds with businesses and cater to particular industries. This ensures they understand their customers’ needs and can carry out the work to the best of their capacity.
However, agencies are usually a more expensive solution. And, while they may understand the industry, they may not necessarily understand your niche. Agencies usually have many clients, so work processes are more efficient, templated and “off the shelf.”
This can mean they focus more on getting things done quickly, rather than properly.
Pros: Can do a wide variety of work, usually very experienced in their industry.
Cons: Can be expensive. Work may not be of the best quality if the agency is spread too thin.
In summary, you don’t have to do it alone, and automating some processes beforehand will certainly help.
Figuring out which approach to hiring works the best for your business is about weighing the pros and cons of each one, and tying them to your own situation.