Thinking about integrating employees into Quill & Co. was really daunting and one of the scariest things I did last year. I’ve had contractors in the past but in April 2021, I had hired a part-time designer to help me out with projects and 3 months later, brought her on full-time. Then in September, I hired a full-time operations assistant to help support the backend side of Quill & Co. In this week’s episode, I talk about how hiring my first employee helped me not only with my workflow, but helped me create my ideal company culture, how I knew when it was time to switch from contracted work to a full-time employee, and the struggles I’m still trying to figure out around no longer being a solopreneur.
Last year one of the scariest and hardest things that I did was hire employees. For my business, I started as a solopreneur and then moved on to working with contractors. I’ve had people contracted for work to do photography, copywriting, and I had contracted a junior designer and a virtual assistant in the past. I didn’t realize how different contractors and employees were at the time. When starting with contractors, it showed me the pros and cons of working with other individuals for my business and ultimately helped me see which direction I wanted to take my business in.
I think in the online space the term “team members” can be confusing for some. Oftentimes, people mean that they have group of contractors that work for them on their business. There is nothing wrong with having contractors as part of your team. It can still be part of a team, but contractors are all independently building their own business at the same time as working for these designers. I started my business out with contractors and found that there were some pros and cons for me.
I believe that starting with contractors and very part-time help can be a great, lower-stakes way of getting used to delegating. It will help you learn communication styles, some leadership styles, and take ownership of your business.
There’s so much to learn when you become someone’s boss.
I am not an HR expert or claim to know the law in your area so before deciding between an employee or contract worker, make sure you don’t misclassify a worker. This can result in back taxes, fines, and penalties.
My friend Kira La Forgia, founder of Paradigm Consulting always says “you don’t get to choose if you have contractors or employees on your team, it’s ultimately chosen by the role that you are looking to fill and the guidelines set by the IRS. “
So when thinking about integrating employees into Quill & Co, it was a huge task for me (and really freaking daunting honestly. ) But I knew it was time for me to move beyond contractors.
So to do that, I not only had to think about who to hire, what they would do, and what the expectations are, but I had to think bigger; beyond just “what tasks will each person do”. I knew since working with contractors, that I wanted to create a culture around my business. So when I wanted to make the switch to hiring employees I kept these things in mind:
I want to make sure I’m giving my employees autonomy in their roles but keeping it aligned with my brand and vision.
I don’t know if I’ve figured all of those things out yet. But, that’s the great thing about this podcast, we are stepping into clarity, together.
Now let’s talk about how I first started to prepare for hiring and outsourcing.
Whether you are weeks, months, or years out from hiring, you should start taking notes, recording, jotting down how to do everything in your business.
Even if it’s just you right now, start building your SOP library of knowledge about your business. It will not only benefit you in the future with employees it will help you now! I still reference my own SOPs all the time.
If that feels too daunting start small with email templates. Every time you write an email that seems like a question that will arise, over and over, write down a template and store it in a database. And no you don’t need anything fancy, a simple google doc will work. This also helps make sure if you do give over your email response to another team member, they understand your brand’s voice.
So here’s your homework. Take a week and write down all of the things that you do in your business.
What trends did you find?
This can be really telling on what kind of role you’ll need to fill.
Hiring is exciting and fulfilling and at the same time absolutely terrifying.
I’m excited that I get to provide what is hopefully a fun work environment where the team also feels empowered and excited in what they do. This might seem really silly and small but it’s so exciting to me that I get to provide health insurance for them because I remember when I couldn’t afford health insurance myself.
I also love that with hiring employees, you get to create your own company culture. Taking everything that you’ve ever hated from a past job and throwing it away. Thinking back to past bosses you liked and incorporating their traits.
And a bonus I wasn’t expecting – getting so excited when we have team meetings and my team members present and teach me on a project they are passionate about within my company.
I feel so grateful that I get to create my dream company culture and continue to expand on that dream every day. So whether you are a few months or maybe a few years away from hiring, if this is something that is a goal for your business, I’d encourage you to start thinking now about that dream culture. Start now to get clarity on what a part-time, contracted, or even full-time employee could do for your business. Take those steps, write down all of the things that you do in your business, and start crafting your ideal work culture.