Look....I get it! I've been through contractors and employees over the years, and I understand the pains of managing a team. I've managed virtual/remote teams, and I've managed an in-house team. They both come with pros and cons.
But at the end of the day.....do you really need all of them?
If you take a deeper look at your business operations, and you start reverse engineering your systems, you're likely to find a load of waste.
That waste is costing you a tiny fortune.
No matter what, employees or contractors will not have the skin-in-the-game with your business like you do. It's your baby, and you just can't change that. I'm not saying they won't do a good job for you, and care about their work. But that's just it, at the end of the day, it's just work for them.
It took me a decade to realize that I was giving my everything to a team that wasn't ever going to give me their everything. The mentality of an entrepreneur vs that of an employee (or subcontractor) are on opposite ends of the commitment line. I used to feel fully committed to them, and I felt like I was responsible for their health and well-being.
But guess what....when they leave you, they pick right back up with their life with another job. The days go on. There's no harm done.
You? You're stuck doing damage control while you replace them and retrain them and find a whole ton of surprises they left behind. (And I'm not just referring to the moldy pizza they left in the break-room refrigerator.)
Your business is your baby! It's your livelihood. You can't just pick back up if it all drops. You might find your shorts missing if you try!
Therefore securing your business and the tasks that make it go round-and-round everyday is vital to the health of well being of your business. Automate. Automate. Automate.
The best thing you can do yourself, your business, and for your team, is to look into all your processes and systems. Review the workflow of the team. Trim out the excess fat, and get a lean and robust business through the use of automation.
And if you have to make other decisions later that deal with the bloated team you may have, then so be it. Cross that bridge then. (And thank me when you do!)
Employees cost a fortune, right? If you don't already know this, take it from my, 10 years experience in this. Unemployment costs alone are ridiculous. Let alone taxes and benefits.
Now....this isn't to say you can go completely employee/contractor free. But you might get quite close, depending on your business model!
For the first time in 10 years, we're finally experiencing the hassle-free business life of having no employees. My business partner (hubby!) and I used to spend every morning over our coffee time hashing through the employee matters. Now we get up, and instead put our focus on content, marketing, and serving our awesome clients.
We didn't lose any revenue either. I'm not saying it wasn't a transition, because it was! We had to streamline our internal systems, as well as get a better grasp on our client's systems. The more we automated, the less human touch that was needed, the easier everyone's lives became.
Where to start with setting up automation that can save you time and money with employees:
STEP 1: The Brain Dump
I bet you like that fancy term? But yes, it starts with a brain dump. Just start getting all your business processes, products, pricing, client information, etc documented on on paper.
Some people are visual, some are not...so figure out how you're best going to do this. Me....I love mindmaps! There's some free and snazzy software out there to help with this. My favorite these days is Lucidchart. (That's NOT an affiliate link, just fun stuff to share!)
Maybe you need to talk it through with someone or hire a consultant to help identify the areas that can be quickly streamlined.
STEP 2: Identify The Key Areas
During this process you're going to identify the key areas (or departments) and that will allow you to break things down into smaller pieces. (i.e. Design, Accounting, Customer Support, Onboarding, etc)
Identifying these key areas lets you set a plan in place for each of them, and prioritize where you should start.
The entire plan needs to be holistic though, and has to account for the bigger picture.
STEP 3: Identify The Technology
Now you need to identify the technology that can make this happen. You have the bigger picture now, and you have the smaller pieces you need to work with. You'll need to ensure that each of the smaller objectives can talk to one another to support the big holistic goal.
For example, you don't want to automate a HelpDesk (support center, customer support department) in a way that won't help you with automating onboarding processes.
This is the area that you can get hung up on if you're not familiar or comfortable with the technology options out there.
There are a dozen different auto-responder programs you can use, and there are another dozen help desk platforms. But which ones will talk with Quickbooks or Xero to ensure your books are updated? Which programs integrate and how do they integrate with one another? Is it a hard integration, or is it via another plugin or tool such as Zapier?
STEP 4: Come Up With The Plan & Execute It
Now that you have identified your goals, broken them down into smaller chunks, envisioned the holistic approach, and identified the technology and tools to make this happen, now you need to come up with plan to execute it.
This can vary, and a one-size-fits-all approach won't work. That's why it's hard to develop this content with more details and steps for you. I wish it were more simple.
I tend to start at the "roots" in the process. This is usually traffic generation, UX on site, the point of sale, onboarding/offboarding.
It's one thing to automate your marketing, but it's another thing to have your leads and customers falling through the cracks because you dropped that ball. I also find the administration of a company to have the biggest cracks for waste.
Marketing teams move faster because their deadlines are harder and there is a hard cut off for a campaign, and a new start up for the next campaign. Whereas the administration team, they're just steady as she goes. There's really no end for customer support tickets, answering phone calls, posting replays, reviewing A/R, paying bills, etc.
Want to know a secret? If you ask your employees to let you know when they have more time to put into another project, it'll be crickets! It's human nature for them to work at a steady pace dictated by the amount of work they have at the given time. There's always that superstar employee that won't pull that stunt, but in my experience, most will just dilly dally along with their day, doing their work like robots, and not looking for ways to better streamline it and open up ways to find more time.
So this process is up to you. It's up to you to determine what needs to be automated, where you start automating, and which area is the biggest priority to start at. It's up to you to determine how much time a task should take.
....and if you automate it right ..... well that task might not take any time at all!