If there's one immutable fact of life when it comes to this business, it's that there's so much to do but so little time to do it all in. At some point around one year mark, if you've been even moderately successful in your online business, you'll find you've reached limit of what you can do with time you have available. At that point you have a choice: to deliberately retard growth of your business to maintain status quo, or take on additional resources to help you cope with a business that continues to grow beyond capacities of just one person.
That's just choice I was faced with when I returned to full-time workforce last month after running my online business on a full-time basis for two months. I realized almost immediately that if I kept on way I was, my business wasn't going to go any further. It was taking all my time to deal with administrative side of business and that left none for really important business- development activities that kept getting pushed to back-burner until I magically found time to get to them. In this article, we look at getting help when you need it. And no, I'm not talking about going out and hiring a wage-earning full-time employee or even a part-time employee for that matter although that, of course, is one option open to you. Instead, with a little bit of lateral thinking you may well find you can get help you need for very little (if any) up-front cash outlay.
COMPENSATING YOUR ASSISTANT
Because (I assume) you're still running your business on a shoestring, you can't afford to pay someone a wage in advance of generating additional income. This means that whoever you choose needs to be someone who's prepared to work for a percentage of profits of business rather than a wage. For this reason, person you choose will most likely be close to you ... a family member, spouse or very close friend.
As for proportion of profits that you pay to your assistant, this is up to you and your assistant to negotiate and will depend on several factors including types of tasks your assistant performs, time they have available to work (and actually do work) and overall contribution they make to business. An assistant who takes an entrepreneurial interest in business and contributes to its growth in addition to its maintenance should be rewarded accordingly.
Be sure to get professional advice before you start your arrangement with your assistant. You need to think about tax and other issues such as whether your profit-sharing arrangement might create a partnership rather than an employer-employee relationship (this may or may not be something you want). Also, assuming you're not intending to create a partnership relationship with your assistant, think about whether you want an employer-employee relationship or whether you prefer your assistant to be an independent contractor. There are tax consequences for each of above scenarios so be sure to talk to your accountant about your options.
CONVERTING TIME INTO INCOME
It should be self-evident that you are going to have to convert time you free up with help of your assistant into income. In other words, if your business doesn't generate any more income as a result of you taking on an assistant, by time you split your profits, you're going to be behind. So it's crucial that you take time you save and spend it wisely. That means using your time on projects that are going to increase income of your business by more than cost of splitting your profits.
WHO TO CHOOSE FOR YOUR ASSISTANT
Now, who should you choose for your assistant? To start with, consider who in your immediate circle has both time and ability to help you in your business. It could be a spouse, teenage son or daughter, parent, next door neighbor, brother or sister, close friend or colleague.
In my case, my first choice for an assistant was my computer-savvy mother but, because she is retired and on a pension, she can't earn an income without jeopardizing her retirement income. I therefore didn't consider her as a real possibility.
I then considered one of my sisters but, because of technical problems (she didn't have a suitable computer and wasn't in a position to get one quickly) that wasn't going to work either. Then my other sister, not computer- savvy but obviously a lateral thinker, suggested that, instead of paying my mother her share of profits in cash which would have jeopardized her pension, why not pay her in airline tickets from Australia to US? Because I have recently relocated from Australia to US, this was a perfect solution because it was expenditure my parents would have incurred anyway. And, from my business's point of view, because my mother works for business, airfares business pays for will be tax-deductible as our visits will be, at least in part, business-related. So, give some thought to your particular circumstances and think laterally. Perhaps you have a teenage son or daughter who is good with computers and is looking for a way to earn additional income. Not only does appointing them as your assistant achieve this goal, it also gives your child crucial experience working in ecommerce field and that sure can't hurt!