contractor As your business grows, you might find moments where you wish you could clone yourself to get everything done. Tasks start falling by the wayside, and those non-urgent items on your to-do list get put on the back burner.
If this sounds like you, you’re not alone. According to one recent survey, the average small business owner works more than 50 hours per week. While running your own business is likely a labor of love, working unreasonably long hours can have negative effects on your health—namely, burning out.
While you might have the hardest hustle in your industry, that doesn’t mean you need to do everything. You can only be so productive and there are a limited number of hours in a day. When you start hitting a wall, it might be time to consider hiring your first contractor.
But what exactly is a contractor, and what can they do to help grow your business? Here, we’ll walk you through the basics of contract workers: what contractors are, what they can do for you, and how to know when to hire one.
What are contractors?
Contractors are workers you hire to perform a specific task or service. They generally aren’t full-time, permanent employees, so you don’t have to offer healthcare benefits or a perks plan. While you aren’t required to give them these kinds of benefits, building a positive and mutually beneficial relationship with contractors certainly benefits your business.
Because contractors are independent workers, they’re often more flexible. They may be freelancers or small business owners, like yourself, with multiple clients. Small business owners can bring on full-time, part-time, or temporary contractors—depending on the workload. You can also set a fixed term for a contractor’s employment as well (think three months, six months, or a year).
You can also request contractors to work on-site at your office or co-working space or to work remotely.
What work do contractors do?
As I mentioned, one of the many advantages of having a contractor is the flexibility. There’s likely a contractor out there who can perform almost any of the tasks you want taken off your plate.
Depending on your industry or niche, you can hire contractors to complete:
- Administrative tasks: Whether it’s scheduling meetings, hosting client interviews, filing, completing paperwork, or answering emails, you can hire a contractor or virtual assistant to move these tedious tasks off your to-do list.
- Creative work: From graphic design to content creation to photography, you can outsource any of these creative tasks to a contractor.
- Accounting and bookkeeping: Assets and liabilities, or debits and credits? If you can’t stand keeping your books straight, outsource it to a financial pro.
- Sales and marketing: Need help finding more customers to scale your business? Or maybe a social media whiz to offer customer support on your branded social channels? Get the help of a sales or marketing professional.
- Web development and SEO: Need to refresh your company’s website or get better search engine rankings? Contract out a web developer to redesign your business site or an SEO expert to help potential customers find you online.
While this isn’t an all-encompassing list, these are just a few of the overarching task categories you can get contractors to tackle.
Four signs you need a contractor
Sure, you’ve kept things lean in your small business so far. You wear many hats and put out any fires on your own. And while you might be fine to continue as a one-person show, keep an eye out for these signs that you might need a little extra help.
1. You’re burning out
Working long hours day after day, week after week—it eventually takes its toll on even the most eager entrepreneur. The leading source of stress among workers in North America in 2017 was workload.
While there may always be something to do, stressing yourself and overworking are quick ways to reach burnout.
According to the Mayo Clinic, some typical symptoms of work burnout are:
- Feeling cynical or critical at work
- Feeling unmotivated to go to work and difficulty getting started once you’re there
- Irritability or impatience with clients or co-workers
- Lack of energy or fatigue
- Change in sleep habits or appetite
- Unexplained headaches, backaches, or other ailments
- Substance abuse (drugs or alcohol)
- Lack of satisfaction with achievements or success
- Inability to be productive
Not addressing the symptoms of burnout can lead to even more serious issues, including anxiety, depression, and heart disease.
If you’re feeling one or more of these symptoms (and have for a while), it might be time to bring on some help to lighten your workload.
2. You’re addressing only urgent tasks
Are you consistently putting important tasks or assignments on the backburner? Or maybe you spend your entire workday just dealing with urgent queries, leaving you with no time to tackle big-picture tasks like growing your business.
If your to-do list never seems to get shorter, no matter how many hours you work, then it’s time to bring in a contractor. Not only can a contractor pick up any slack, but they can often whip through certain tasks more efficiently (just FYI, there are people who are great with spreadsheets—and actually like them).
3. You found a new revenue stream
As your business scales, you’ll likely find additional ways to boost your revenue. For example: You might be a skilled web developer, but more clients are requesting graphic design services for logos and marketing materials. You could contract that portion of a project out to a graphic designer, so that you can build a relationship with that client instead of turning them away. If you think there will be consistent work available, then it might make sense to hire a pro in that niche on a contract basis.
Leaning on a subject matter expert not only shortens your to-do list, but real pros can get through those tasks in half the time it might take you to muddle through them. So, offload the parts of your job you aren’t great at and keep doing the things you love.
4. You have steady work (and are turning customers away)
At a certain point, many solo entrepreneurs hit a productivity plateau. No matter how many productivity hacks you implement, you can only accomplish so much work in a day. And when you’re at your limit, you could find yourself turning new clients away.