Employees

Life is changing a lot at the moment. It’s becoming more difficult – even when I thought it couldn’t – because the challenge it’s bringing is different.

Having people work for me is quite a difficult adjustment to make. For years, as a self-employed person, I have been so used to generating work for me and then doing it. This has progressed for a long time that it is just normal and I don’t want to try anything else.

But the difficult phases of both my businesses are now hitting. They both need to grow, but they cannot grow without more people. More people means bigger costs, costs which don’t appear to be sustainable right now. One presumes that those more people, though, will build the business infrastructure such that it can cope with more work, and get more sales. So perhaps the costs are sustainable after all? Indeed, might they actually result in a bigger profit?

These are the questions I have been toying with for over a year, but only now are they actually coming into reality. Despite all of the financial analysis, it still comes down to a gut feeling. Do I do this or not?

I have decided that I must. I cannot live my life as it is now. It is non-stop and never-ending pressure with no fun. I knew all this anyway, but with the co-incidence of another business also generating the same stress, this really isn’t a life.

I decided that, even if every pound I spend on the employee is, in essence, wasted, it would still, in a reasonable year, allow me to live. OK, it would be an existence. But it would be better than I had now, for it would give me back some of my sanity and some of my ostensible leisure time.

I ended up taking the plunge with a 16 year old for the summer. Ultimately, I had to get rid of him. I don’t remember being such a baby at that age. Maybe I was mature for my age. But he was phenomenally immature. It was only meant to be for the summer anyway, a bit of a test to see how I’d get on with an apprentice. But it was like baby sitting, and he had no desire to impress me. I’m pretty sure when I started my first job at 16 I was shitting myself thinking I wasn’t up to the task, so I set about making sure I concentrated and worked hard. He did neither, mostly spinning in his chair and looking thoroughly bored.

The privileges of middle-class youth, I reckon.

Anyway, I very carefully extracted him from the job earlier than anticipated so as not to offend him or his parents too much. He has been replaced by someone I have known from the internet for over 10 years. Weird? Probably yes. But I knew no one else I could take a risk on.

So far it’s working out. I hope it continues to do so, and actually starts to generate further profits.

Meanwhile, on the other business, our first tentative steps into outsourcing and employment – which failed miserably last year – are now beginning to bear fruit. We are starting to build up a great team… but one I wish could be more secure and more “full time” – if we had some initial capital. I’m sure that if I had £50k to just cashflow it for a year, it would reap three times that in dividends afterwards. But that’s a big risk to take for someone who doesn’t even have that…

It’s an exciting and challenging time. The difficulty, though, comes from adjusting. Adjusting to not feeling bad about telling someone to do something, in as kind and engaging way as I can, which I don’t want to do, or really ought to delegate so that I can concentrate on something more important, more fitting of a director.

That adjustment in my life is interesting. I have always been a do-er, not a delegate-r. I always felt delegation was shirking, but now I see it from the other side of the fence. I must delegate to do the things that only I can do. Our nice office lady can’t do the technical bits I do. I can certainly do her job, but she can’t do mine. So I pay her to do the things I don’t want to do. It works. I understand better now.

I just need to make it work more. And I just hope I’m not a lousy boss.

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