Here’s a question Charlie sent in after listening to the EntreLeadership Podcast:
I’m a one-person e-commerce company working from home. I feel like I could keep two or three people busy full-time, but I don’t have enough extra money to hire even one person part-time. I have so many ideas on how to expand my business, but I hardly have time to work on any of them after doing all of the other things that have to be done day-to-day.
Maybe it will be covered in the (EntreLeadership) book or in a future podcast, but I’d sure like to know how I can get my business to the next level. I have considered outsourcing my marketing, but don’t know if that’s a smarter move than hiring a “team member” even part-time.
Any advice or feedback would be greatly appreciated!
This is the age-old question for a one-person shop. When do you add a team member, and what if you can’t afford it? While the answer seems as though it must address both questions at the same time, it technically does not. The reason? You can actually tackle the first question without having to worry about the second. This early in the game, I am ALWAYS going to try to hire a salesperson first. There are two reasons why:
- Without sales, your business doesn’t exist—no matter how amazing your product is. Obviously, Charlie has sales. But to grow, he has to sell more. In the early stages of a business, you should be looking for ways to add salespeople way before you hire administrative people. Get the product out the door into someone’s hands, so you can put more money in the bank!
- Salespeople pay for themselves. The great thing about a sales position is it’s not a fixed expense. If they don’t sell anything, they don’t get paid. Therefore, it shouldn’t cost you much more than a few hard costs, like phone/space/bad coffee, to have someone selling your product. If you hire admin, you have a fixed cost that you must pay—no matter how many sales occur.
Where you might have to answer both questions at the same time is if it will take some time for the salesperson to get the “pipeline” full. If so, then you might have to supplement them a little until the sales start rolling in. It doesn’t need to be a lot, just enough to put food on the table and keep a healthy sense of desperation, so the sales do roll in. Pay too much, and the feet go up on the desk.
This time period shouldn’t last longer than 90 days if possible. By then, a good salesperson should have money coming in the door. If not, you need to ask yourself:
- Is this the right salesperson? Have they done everything possible to make a sale? Are they selling to the “why” of the potential purchasers? Have I done everything possible to set them up for success?
- Is it my product? Is there something wrong with the delivery system? Is the product something that is not needed?
The great thing about Charlie’s product is it’s already selling, so this should be an easier process.
Question: When did you know it was time for your first hire?