Episode 21 – When Is It Time to Hire Help?

Hiring can be one of the most daunting exercises. What if you hire someone and then the work dries up? Who is even the right first hire? Is it a junior designer or an admin assistant or a project manager? Should you hire a contracted worker or a bonafide employee? What the heck is even the difference? Listen up, boss. In this episode, we are tackling all those episodes and more. Listen now.

Episode 21 Show Notes

Key Takeaways:

  • Hiring is a big leap but when you are busy, having assistants is going to free you up to do what only you can do and what you do best 
  • Your assistants should be billable – on average 3 times what’re paying them
  • Know the distinction between W2 employees and 1099 (contracted) employees
    • W2 employees are on your payroll. They get a regular paycheck, pay withholding taxes, and have employee benefits
    • 1099 employees invoice you at their rate and are responsible for paying their taxes. They bring their own equipment (i.e., laptop and software), set their own hours, and have the freedom to do the same type of work for other employers
  • It’s important to manage your employees’ expectations, especially if you can’t guarantee the minimum number of hours and steady work throughout the year
  • If you’re thinking about hiring, find someone who has that flexibility with his or her time and income source
  • Assigning tasks to your assistants that are billable to a client is a great business model
    • These can include: sourcing, writing specifications, going to showrooms and picking up samples, returns, meeting with trades, site visits, take photos, etc.
  • A good target for your assistants is setting billable work at 50-70 percent to bring in a steady income, but it can also depend on the employee’s role
  • Knowing your numbers is crucial to deciding on this – how many hours it takes you to finish a project, what exact tasks you will delegate, how long those tasks will take
  • There are a lot of ways to keep track of your time, whether manually or through apps and spreadsheets
  • A lot make the mistake of not billing out your assistants because it might feel uncomfortable but at the end of the day, it is billable work that your clients should be billed for
  • Unless you are an accountant or bookkeeper, that is probably the first role you should hire out  
  • Look at the tasks or roles that you are struggling with – those are good factors to examine when considering who to hire next
  • After a bookkeeper, hiring someone to help with administrative work is the next best step. Whether it be a virtual assistant or someone in person, having help with admin work lets you focus on designing and building your business
  • It can be challenging to hand off work to other people when you’ve built your entire business yourself, but there comes a point wherein doing everything yourself is just not economic or feasible
  • Onboarding a new assistant takes time in the beginning. It’s important to hire before you need help because it’ll pay off in the long run
  • Capture your processes in a video format – it’s more efficient than writing it out and saves time since you can use it again the next time you hire someone
  • Your next hire should be a junior designer. They can provide a fresh perspective in projects as well as affirmation when making decisions
  • When looking for the perfect assistant, more often than not it’s ideal to hire someone with a design background
  • To filter out and test candidates, include some sort of task in your job description such as spelling out exactly what the subject of their email application should be

Resources Shared:

  • Harvest -Time tracking software
  • Clockwork: Design Your Business to Run Itself by Mike Michalowicz – Book and Bonus Content
  • Loom – Video and screen recording software
  • Episode 7 – How do You Charge for Your Design Services?


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