Starting a solo PR pro business is one of the scariest and most satisfying things you will ever do. Most Solo PR Pros launch their business with a focus on gaining clients and doing the work. You enjoy charting your course and choosing the type of work you do. Early on, you may be do it all, but inevitably you will benefit from some type of help. This could be a VA intern or assistant to help with admin or junior level tasks, or back end office tasks such as billing and invoicing. However, if you are at capacity and constantly overwhelmed you may need a higher level of help.
Before you decide to hire, take at least a few weeks to honestly assess your business. You will want to take note of how much time you spend on tasks that can be outsourced or performed by someone else. Are you spending hours per month putting together reports, invoicing, conducting basic research or doing other time-sucking activities that do not require your personal touch? Use a timer or a simple notebook to keep track of how you are spending your time.
After your assessment period, evaluate your time tracking and consider the following:
- Are administrative tasks taking more time than you realized?
- What percentage of your time is spent on direct client work?
- How much of your time is spent on non-billable tasks?
- How much money would you make if you spent those hours on billable work?
- Could you expand your capacity if those hours were freed up?
- Would you be happier / less stressed if you did not have to do those time-sucking tasks?
You know that time is money, but let’s break it down a little further.
Let's assume that you track your time for 4 weeks and find the following:
- 20 hours per month on admin tasks. You could hire an assistant or VA for $35/hour or $700/month.
- 30 hours per month on junior level tasks such as list building, reports, research and basic writing. A junior level person could do the work for $50/hour or $1500/month (a little higher than the national average for a PR associate).
Total non-billable hours = 50
The total you would pay for these 50 hours per month is $2200.00. Your hourly rate is $175/hour. If you were to bill those 50 hours you would bill $8,750. This is one or more clients that you could add to your roster.
The lesson is that you may not feel that there is enough money to hire someone but in reality,you may be losing money by not delegating lower value tasks. If you can make more money by paying someone else to complete those low value or non-billable tasks it may be time to consider hiring help.
Now that you know how you are spending your time, you will need to make sure you’re ready to take the next step.
Being busy alone is not enough to hire. You still have to be smart about your bottom line. If you are going to hire an employee, you want to delegate repeatable tasks that contribute to your business. If you have seasonal highs, an intern or contractor may fit the bill. But if you have tasks that repeat and/or ongoing, an employee may be the answer.
Standardize the work. With your employer hat on, you have to think beyond your current tasks and workload. You do not want to randomly assign things to do from week to week. This will be frustrating and inefficient. You need to have structured work tasks that can be done every single week.
Document your processes and procedures. Chances are that you have a number of things that you do day-after-day a certain way. You don’t give it a second thought until someone else comes along and does it another way. You will be training your employee on how to work for you, so you will need to capture this in writing.
As a Solo PR Pro, there are many solutions to getting the work done, from partnering with other solo pros to hiring subcontractors when needed, or hiring employees. Assess your needs so that you can make the best decision for your business.
We'd love to hear from you! How do you decide to share the workload? What solutions have you used? Let us know in the comments or on social media using #solopr.
This post was excerpted from the Solo PR Pro Premium ebook From Solo to Boss: Hiring Your First Employee or Subcontractor.