{Handmade Business in 31 Days — Day 30, Hiring help.}

Day 30// We made the choice to hire shop help pretty early on. I was still working my full-time day job when we made this decision, and while it was a little scary with a big dash of new-ness, we fully believed in what hiring help could do for Gussy Sews.

One afternoon, while sitting in our downtown Minneapolis apartment, I found myself on the phone with Lisa Leonard. I was in desperate need of some advice — hiring an assistant seemed so difficult, and it is, but it’s not as unreachable as it once felt. Lisa shared her insight with me: if I never hire help I’ll only be able to do so much with Gussy Sews. We reached a fork in the road — if I was content with only selling as much as we were, working as many hours as I was, and not experiencing any growth, I shouldn’t hire help. OR, I could hire an assistant and Gussy Sews would continue to grow.

Obviously I chose the path of hiring help, which not only benefits Gussy Sews but allows me to work with amazing women who live incredibly passionate + talented lives.

Adding to our team ebbs + flows as the seasons change. Usually over the holidays we bring on more talent, and sometimes we hire out just for a project, but for the most time we have a pretty consistent team. I am so thankful + appreciative of the women we work with.

Local/online job boards have been very good to us, specifically Craigslist. We write an anonymous but super descriptive job listing and then review all applications as they come in. As soon as we reply to the listing we share who we are, complete with URLs, but for that first listing I’ve never listed our businesses name. I typically interview first at a public venue, then a second interview is held in my studio. If you already have an assistant(s), consider a group interview if you’ll be working closely together and invite all team members to be present. One thing I’ve learned — adding to our team is just as much about growing the business as it is about the personal needs of the applicant. It’s very much a two-way street :)

BEFORE YOU HIRE YOU’LL WANT TO KNOW A FEW THINGS:

  • What is our goal in hiring an assistant?
  • What tasks will the assistant complete?
  • How often will they work?
  • What kind of rates can we afford?
  • How will hiring an assistant benefit me/the business {long-term}?

Before you can hire an assistant you need to make sure you can afford to hire one. There’s potential for this to be the most tedious tasks but bear with me, it is so worth it!

Imagine if you can adjust the tasks you work on daily to be the tasks that only YOU can do. Tasks that no one else can do, such as designing product or creating visions for your business? It took me a while to be able to let go of certain tasks but the benefits of doing so far outweigh the stress/frustrations that doing everything myself brought.

Wondering if it’s still considered “handmade” if you don’t make it yourself?

Here’s where I advise you to seek professional advice on the topic, as we have done many times. You could hire an employee, a contract employee or an intern. Then there’s the option of full-time or part-time help {or seasonal}. You’ll need an accountant to guide you through payroll, help you determine if you need to become an LLC or working with a DBA is OK. I’m sweating a little just writing this out, but trust me, it’s wise to seek the advice from professionals.

My main purpose is to encourage you to consider hiring help for your handmade business :) And then of course cheer you on as you work hard at making it happen.

WHY SHOULD YOU HIRE HELP?

  • You constantly feel overwhelmed and/or don’t getting everything done {and procrastination is NOT something you struggle with}
  • Because — let’s be honest, we can’t do it all {on our own}
  • To give yourself more time to focus on your strengths {ask for help doing the things you are mediocre at/don’t enjoy}

If you sell a tangible product, the pricing of each item needs to reflect the incurred costs of all that work on it. So that means any prep work, the actual making of the product, photographing, editing, listing and writing blog posts/email newsletters/Facebook updates, plus more. If your blog is your “product”, think of all the tasks required to make your blog a success and the costs to help you make it happen. Consider the time it takes to seek out + write giveaway posts, seek + maintain sidebar sponsors, create/write DIY posts, general blog post prep/writing, email writing/answering. Then there’s the cost of business overhead: blog or shop fees, blog or shop design/maintenance costs, email newsletter subscription costs, general office supplies {NOT shipping supplies, that is factored into determining the shipping price}, business travel, business coffee/lunch events, and more. Whew! But you can do it :)

When writing your job listing be sure to include the compensation, job description, hours, availability + any other details about your business and/or the position you’re looking to fill. I’ve created a sample job listing for you to reference, click here download the sample job listing PDF. When writing the ad, be sure to list the personal qualities you’re looking for. For example, including “self-starter and self-manager” in our listings has helped us tremendously. Also list the qualities of the business — what makes your business an attractive place to work? And lastly, use bullet points, complete/descriptive sentences + check your spelling/grammar when writing the ad.

sewing machines in England

When you are honest about the time + costs your business accrues you’re able to grow your business at a much easier rate. And be sure to read this 31 Days post on where to purchase materials. What handmade business owners pay for materials is probably the #1 reason they struggle with not only being able to afford hired help, but achieve profitability status {speaking from experience}.

“The price of success is much lower than the price of failure,” — Zig Ziglar

Want EVEN MORE guidance with hiring help for your blog or business?

 

Homework// Write out a few sample job listings, then share them with a trusted family member or friend. What kind of feedback can they give? When you see a job ad, what encourages you to apply? When your job listing is complete, post it! You’re now on your way to hiring help for your handmade business — yeow! :)

Share with us below: What’s holding you back from hiring an assistant? What have you learned from hiring?

click to see all Handmade Business in 31 Days posts

Comments

  1. 1

    says

    Maggie, what a great series, I actually read it every day! Thank you so much for sharing your advice. Very helpful for a brand-new business like mine. :) I wanted to email you, but I couldn’t find a link that went directly to you, soooooo……here goes: I was really hoping you’d address the question of ADVERTISING! Do you think you could talk about that sometime….pretty please? :) I feel like I’m shooting arrows in the dark here. Not sure where to start or how to even approach it. Eek!

    [Reply]

    Gussy Sews Reply:

    @Rachel, OHHHHH I like that topic. I’ll have to see if I can fit that in… :)

    I don’t have my email address listed (hate me) but I do have a contact form on our CONTACT page. You can write me there whenever! xo

    [Reply]

  2. 2

    says

    Wishing this post had come two weeks ago. It would have given me even more confidence about venturing into the world of employer. I have recently hired 2 amazing women to help me. One virtual assistant to handle emails, advertising and graphics. Things I would spend hours working on and may or may not master. The other is a studio assistant, lots of prep work and packaging. Both are amazing, worth their weight in gold and have helped me feel like I am actually growing as a business. Starting in the next few weeks I am cutting back from 5 to 4 days a week at my full time job to focus on my handmade business!

    [Reply]

    Gussy Sews Reply:

    @Lani Derrick, WOW — so many exciting things! Congrats on hiring your first two assistants, that’s a huge accomplishment! I hope you celebrated :)

    [Reply]

  3. 3

    Michelle says

    Oh Gussy! I am new to your blog and already can’t get enough. I have been considering a home-business of some sort for a while now and also as a means for encouraging our children to become entrepreneurs as part of our home school.

    Reading you blog is like reading a comprehensive how-to book with plenty of personal touches along the way. I am going to be encouraging our 16 year old daughter to read it too since we are going to be setting up a sewing room soon, (Lord willing.)

    I love the fact that you are a sister in Christ as well!

    [Reply]

    Gussy Sews Reply:

    @Michelle, Oh my gosh, a sewing room??? ::faints::

    Thank you so much for your comment — and welcome to the Gussy community! xo

    [Reply]

  4. 4

    says

    This post has been so, so helpful! I’ve been so busy and can’t grow Kintage the way I want it to because I’m busy doing too many things and not able to finish it all by the end of the day or the week or the month. I’ve talked to my sister about hiring her since she’s unemployed, has never had a job, helps me on occasion anyway and is living near me while her husband is deployed, but she seems hesitant. I guess I’ll have to consider if she really wants to or if I should hire someone else. You’re definitely giving me a lot to think about!

    [Reply]

    Gussy Sews Reply:

    @Aileen, YES! This is exactly why we sit stagnant — we’re afraid or we’re unsure or we’re too overwhelmed to be able to think. Sounds like you know all of this. The next step is to put it into action :)

    Maybe hiring your sister isn’t the answer, and that’s OK! Perhaps there’s someone else you know (a friend of a friend of a friend) that would be a perfect fit? xo

    [Reply]

  5. 5

    says

    I know this post is about 7 months old, but I enjoyed reading this blog post! I do have a question for you! Do you make your assistants sign non-compete contracts? My partner & I are looking at hiring help. This was a concern that we had, worried that whoever we hire could eventually leave & start making the same exact product using our techniques.

    Thanks in advance!!

    [Reply]

    Gussy Sews Reply:

    @Jennifer, I do not. I’ve heard mixed review on those contracts — some have said they are illegal, others say they are OK to use. My personal opinion is anyone can make what we are making inside the Gussy shop. What someone can’t steal is my personality, my ideas (things I haven’t even shared yet), the brand I’ve created. Sure my brand can be mimicked but I don’t think it can be mimicked forever. Eventually they’ll break down and it will dissolve. I also don’t sure everything with all members of my team. Individually they know a lot about a specific technique, but that’s it. I hope this makes sense and can encourage you to step out and hire your first assistant! xx

    [Reply]

  6. 6

    says

    I am really enjoying trading through this whole series. I do have a questtion though. How do you Pay yourself? How much money do you keep for yourself and how much do you keep for the business. Also how much do you take out for taxes? Where do you take out for taxes?

    [Reply]

  7. 7

    tisa says

    I know this is almost a year old, I have been saying for a while now that I should hire an assistant. Thank you for the PDF! It’s helping me to try and find the right person! You’re awesome – love the BLOG!

    [Reply]

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