To hire or not to hire

One big milestone for a new business owner is the hiring of employees. For some businesses, it's not really optional. If you own a restaurant, a retail store, or a manufacturing plant, you almost certainly have to have employees from the minute you open your business. But if you're a professional service provider (accountant, attorney, consultant) like me, the addition of employees is not so cut and dry.

The key is knowing whether or not you want employees and when the time is right to hire them. The idea of even hiring employees at all should not be a "given" for a small business owner. I found that friends and business associates automatically assumed that I wanted to add employees to my business. There wasn't even an option, in their minds. They believed that adding employees was really the only way to grow my business.

Unfortunately, that kind of thing should not be a "given." It should be something that is thought out and planned. Obviously, employees can place a heavy financial burden on a business, and hiring them too early may put your company in jeopardy. So there is a critical decision that must be made - figuring out when you have a steady enough business to ensure that all the bills can be paid in addition to paying the employee(s).

The most attractive aspect of hiring employees is the additional revenue opportunities. Employees also help distribute the work load, and they bring variety to the workplace. But there are certainly negatives to hiring employees. There is the added cost of wages and benefits. There is also the issue of supervision and management of the employees, as well as administration of the employees; dealing with paperwork, benefits, and personal problems

Every business is different, so it's hard to say whether or not employees are right for your company. However, I think it's important that small business owners resist the pressure to hire employees just because it's expected that you will grow your company that way. I used to have employees, and I found that I like my business better when I work alone. I enjoy the freedom and flexibility that I have without employees, and I cherish being able to do the work that I love without the added duties of managing staff and dealing personnel problems.

Over the last eight years, I've been able to grow my business substantially without employees. Run your business the way you want to run it... with or without employees.

Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, MBA, CFE performs fraud examinations and financial investigations for her company Sequence Inc. Forensic Accounting, and is the author of Essentials of Corporate Fraud.
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