#LeadershipLessons: Why every business owner needs a Liz
In the latest #LeadershipLessons post, Rin reflects on that pivotal moment when you start to consider taking on your first employee - and the different options you might want to consider.
Being on the Natwest Entrepreneurial Accelerator programme, I spend a lot of time hanging out with start up entrepreneurs. As we chat about the various challenges of setting up and running a fledgling business, I find myself offering one piece of advice on a regular basis: you need a Liz.
Our Head of Operations, Liz, is the first person I ever employed - originally as an admin assistant - back in 2017 when the company was just a year old. At the time I didn’t really know what I needed, I just knew I couldn’t do it by myself anymore. There was too much to do and, more importantly, there were things that were just too far outside of my skill set.
Most business owners get to the point where they need a Liz. And then they are faced with a challenge. A challenge for which there are three solutions.
Hire someone in
Taking on your first employee isn’t an easy decision to make. There’s the cost and commitment - what if you have a bad month and you can’t pay their salary? Or what if you end up spending more time managing them than you would if you were just doing the work yourself? Delegating is something most entrepreneurs I speak to find difficult at first.
My advice is to first sit and look at the numbers. Realistically, how much budget do you have? Remember that you don’t have to get someone full time - part time might be all you need and will also give you access to a much wider talent pool by making the job accessible to people like parents who have decided to leave high flying careers in order to take care of a young family.
You also need to be clear on what the role will entail. Start by going through all the things you do in an average week and working out which of them you struggle with or find really tedious or stressful - those are the first tasks to knock off your to do list.
If you don’t quite feel ready to hire permanently, you could always start with an intern or an apprentice to give you a chance to test the water.
Outsource your weaknesses
Another option is outsourcing. Before hiring Liz I looked at the idea of getting a VA on an ad hoc basis. It turned out not to be the right option for me - or rather, I heard Liz was looking to change jobs and jumped at the opportunity to have her on my team - but it’s certainly less of a commitment than an employee.
Most things can be outsourced these days - admin, HR, social media, blogging. You can pay for the expertise you need in whatever bite size chunks you need it, and can mix and match experts, giving you access to a wider talent pool than you could get by employing one person.
Although outsourcing might seem more expensive, when you factor in things like NI, employers liability insurance, holiday pay, sick leave and resourcing your employee with things like a laptop or phone, you can see that it may not be as expensive as you think.
And if you’re thinking that you might as well save money and do it yourself, stop for a second and ask yourself how much your time actually costs the business - or what other activities you could be doing with that time which will generate much better returns.
Of course, there will be times when it’s worth investing in order to get the skills you need to run your business better. With some things, it’s a matter of necessity. If you’re going to employ people then you’re going to have to manage them, so if you’re not sure you’re up to it then you might decide to invest in management training.
Or it could be that the finances simply don’t work out right now. We’re very conscious of that, not being an especially large business ourselves. Which is why as well as offering copywriting services, we have also developed a workshop that will teach you to write your own website copy.
Or maybe you just want to get better at a key activity such as sales or marketing, so you decide to outsource other less critical jobs and get yourself on a course or workshop to boost your own skills. Whatever the case, putting time, effort and budget into the right training can really pay dividends.
Ultimately, I think every business owner needs a Liz in some way. Businesses don’t grow in isolation. However you bring in the skills you need, if you want to grow you need to consider getting other people involved. Just don’t try to poach our Liz - I don’t actually know that I could run the business without her any more!
If you’d like to discuss a copy project with us, drop us a line on firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 01179 902 690 - we’re always here to help.
Want to read more? Try this - #LeadershipLessons: How to run a team meeting people will actually want to attend