Easing the Journey from Solopreneur to Employer
Solopreneurs often venture out on their own based on their goals; they want a more flexible schedule, they don’t want to work for someone else, or they simply want to do things their way. Many solopreneurs set out with the intention of building something larger, while others are cruising along in a private office and rolling with whatever happens. When you start turning away work because you’re too busy, want to add products and services (and ultimately revenue), or want to improve the customer experience, you’ll be hard-pressed to do it alone. These are the most common triggers for solopreneurs to cross the bridge into the role of business owner and start building a team that can help you level up.
Granted, the journey across this bridge can be downright scary for many solopreneurs. There are many pressures and risks associated with going bigger, but think of it as a good thing. You’re doing so well that your business is growing, and now all you need is a little help to keep it healthy and thriving.
Here’s how to make the transition a little less daunting.
Satisfy the Legal Requirements
First things first: before you bring any new hire on board, your business needs to be in compliance with any legal requirements. Hiring an employee, even an independent contractor, requires you to report their earnings and pay any applicable payroll taxes. To do this, you’ll need an Employer Identification Number (EIN) so that you don’t incur any costs from the IRS. Applying for an EIN is free and can be done online.
You should also follow your local requirements to make your business is legal. Obtain any necessary licenses or state or local tax IDs.
Prepare to Promote Yourself
As a solopreneur, you were the eyes and hands of your business. You handled every call and email, logged every transaction, and worked closely with your clients.
But once you promote yourself to business owner, you won’t be as integrally involved in each phase. Successful business owners know they can’t be knee-deep in operations AND be able to manage the business. At some point, you’ll need to get specific about your role in the business and trust the rest to the people you hire. That’s what you’re hiring them for, remember?
For many independent enterprisers, this is often the most difficult part. They don’t want to let go of this strong, healthy business they’ve been raising since Day 1. Instead, they want to micromanage each aspect to ensure it’s executed flawlessly, just as it was when you were doing everything yourself.
But this can easily scare off the people you hire, which brings you back to where you started.
Instead, take time to let go of your duties as a solopreneur and chart a new course for yourself as the business owner. From there, you’ll find it easier to let go and trust the journey.
Find Out Who You Need to Hire, and How
Before you start the talent search, consider the type of help that best suits your business: employee or independent contractor (IC).
Beware: there are many gray areas surrounding the classification of ICs. Many employers misclassify employees as contractors simply to get tax benefits. The three main factors that separate employees from freelancers or ICs are:
- The amount of control over the work being performed
- The hours in which the work is performed
- The duration of the partnership in relation to the work being performed
If you want some or total control over how the work is performed, want to set the worker’s schedule, or will require the worker to continue in the same job (more or less) on an ongoing basis, you will need to classify the worker as an employee.
Employees are either full-time or part-time (up to 29 hours) and are on your payroll. You pay them an hourly rate or salary and are responsible for withholding taxes on their behalf. You also pay their payroll taxes, which is about 6.2 percent of their earnings.
Independent contractors work on a project-by-project basis, which can help you to better control your costs. Since they’re not employees, you’re not obligated to withhold taxes, pay payroll taxes, or provide benefits.
The role you’re trying to fill will help you figure out which type of worker to hire. For example, if you’re overwhelmed with phone calls and need a receptionist, this person will be an employee. If you’re trying to add a new service to your marketing business, such as content writing, then you could either hire an in-house writer or partner with a freelancer.
One strategy that many growing businesses use is to hire specialized help for a short duration to get their feet wet. For example, you might invest in shared workspaces that offer receptionist services. It’s not a major commitment, plus it can help reveal more about your hiring needs and the direction you want to take.
Set Them Up for Success
Hiring someone can be expensive, regardless of their IC or employee status. You invest time and money into posting jobs and vetting candidates, interviewing, and on-the-job training and onboarding, which is why a bad hire can cost anywhere from $7,000 to $10,000, according to some studies.
What many new business owners aren’t prepared for is that once you do manage to hire a great worker, you need to work hard to keep them!
Employees are likely to leave a job if they don’t feel like they’ll be successful in their role. As the business owner, it’s up to you to ensure they can start strong and feel confident in their role.
This can be hard to do as a solopreneurship-turned-small business. You likely don’t have the office space or resources that larger, established companies have. You may not have a written training guide they can follow and might not be able to anticipate the issues they will face.
What you can do is ensure they have an inspiring space to work, such as a shared workspace or even their own private office in a coworking environment. Be available to answer their questions and share your visions for what their contributions will bring to the company in a year’s time. Make them feel like they were made for their role and let them share in the company’s growth.
Set Your Sights on an Executive Suite!
Transitioning from a solo venture into a full-fledged business starts with just one hire, and for some businesses, that’s all you might need. For others, the growth opportunities that one hire will bring will lead to more hires in the future, until you’ve earned the executive suite you’ve always dreamed of.
Remember, the road to growth is never a straight line. Even when you start hiring people for your team, you may run into issues that send you back to square one, such as employees quitting or freelancers becoming unresponsive. Your business will go through a series of growing pains before you reach the top, but then again, all the best businesses do.
If you are moving from solopreneurship to business ownership, let Office Evolution ease the move for you. Find the Office Evolution location nearest you to get started.