Staffing is a hard thing for the bootstrapping entrepreneur. On the one hand, you want to hire the best people to help you make a whole lot of money. On the other hand, you don’t want to hire too many people at the start of your business, in case you don’t make a whole lot of money. Finding the balance is critical. There are strategies you can use for staffing that will be flexible enough that you can adapt as your business grows.
“Do it yourself” is very tempting for the bootstrapping entrepreneur, but it’s not always the wisest strategy. For some tasks, you simply won’t have enough work to merit hiring someone. You may find that the most cost effective way to get the recycling taken out at your office is for the CEO to do it. HOWEVER – if you think you are going to do it all, you are wrong. Imagine for a moment that you go to a restaurant. A hostess greets you at the door, leads you to your table and then disappears to an office to work out a contract with suppliers. After about 15 minutes, the same woman comes out and asks to take your order. You order your food and she disappears to the kitchen to cook it. While she is cooking it, the phone rings and she answers it to take a reservation. After about 10 minutes on the phone with the party reservation, you smell something burning in the kitchen – that’s your food! The hostess/manager/waitress/cook returns to the kitchen and re-cooks your meal from scratch, and after about 20 minutes, you eat. This is the problem with doing everything yourself. It may be cheap, but it is rarely good because you can’t devote enough time and attention to every detail – and everything starts to take longer.
For some tasks, you need a warm body, but for others, you only need results. If your business requires computer work, you can save money and time by contracting certain tasks out to virtual assistants in other locations. Be careful, though – like anything, you get what you pay for. If a task is one of your core services, you might want to keep that one in house with a trusted staff member. If it is something routine and not integral to your client experience, then a VA (virtual assistant) will do.
As an entrepreneur, you believe strongly in your company, and hopefully your employees share your vision. If you are trying to hire an employee who is a little too expensive for your start up to afford, but you really think that they are the best fit for the long term, consider offering them a compensation package that includes stock options. Basically this allows the employee to purchase shares of the company at some future date at a set price. This kind of arrangement can be a bit complex and will require a lawyer to help set it up, but it is a way of aligning your employees’ interests with that of the company and selecting employees with an entrepreneurial streak as well as attracting talent that might otherwise be out of your league.
Image credit: Urs Steiner via Creative Commons license