To Hire or Not to Hire? Having Staff is Not the Only Way to Go

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I recently interviewed a young woman who was at a crossroads in her business. Her dream client had approached her about stocking and selling her product. But in order to bring the price down to suit this client, she was going to  have to go into production herself instead of contracting the work out.

Now this was a major step. It meant finding a manufacturing plant AND hiring employees to deliver the goods, so to speak. After much reflection, she decided to turn down the offer and, in fact, she closed down the business.

A big decision but one she didn’t take lightly. As she said to me, it would have dramatically changed how she did business and with a young family, the timing was just not right.

Another factor that was central to her decision was that she didn’t want to be an employer, with all that this choice would entail. She was quite happy contracting out work to freelancers but being an employer was a whole other story.

I certainly could relate to her dilemma, having been both an employer and gone the contract route, and I truly commend her on the courage it took to make this business-changing decision. She’s not sold the business because she knows, down the road, she might revamp it but for now it’s under wraps.

Why being an employer is not for me

I have discovered that I really don’t like to manage people. I didn’t like it when I worked for someone else and I would have to manage staff as part of my responsibilities. Maybe it goes with being an entrepreneur but I really just want to get on with what I have to do and be focused on that without having to supervise others. And when I did have staff, I just wanted them to get on with the job, no questions asked, which is totally unrealistic and unfair.

In other words, I was not a good boss. Likeable yes but not always the best communicator, especially when I was busy. Plus, when you have staff, you can find yourself taking on more than the individual, it’s all their baggage too. And it is not that I am unsympathetic, I always lent a listening ear, but sometimes it took up more time than I had to give.

These days, you can’t be too careful when you hire someone because you really don’t know who or what you are getting, and it is not always easy to get rid of someone who isn’t working out. I’ve also heard horror stories from friends who’ve hired less than honest employees but their thieving ways can be hard to prove and, meantime, it impacts your bottom line.

Going the contract route

So, for all these reasons, I prefer to go the contract route. It also gives you the freedom and flexibility to select people based on their skill sets rather than expecting one or two people to do it all. I have drawn up specific job descriptions, which we review regularly, and there is a give and take in the relationship. Often, the person has other contracts and so they are not relying on you solely for their income (and support) and that takes the pressure off too.

Right now I have three people who do work for me and, on the whole, it is working well. We don’t even live or work in the same community but with modern technology the work gets done.

Would I ever go back to hiring an employee? I don’t think so. But I have also learned to never say never. I think what is key is to know yourself, be aware of your working style and do what suits you and your business best.

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