So it probably isn’t a surprise to hear that I’m tired. But I’m not here to bitch and moan. I’m here to be honest and provide my solution to continued growth and, hopefully, some relief to solopreneurs out there who are shouldering all the tough decisions on their own.
Hire a co-pilot.
Words can’t describe how over the moon I am about hiring my first full-time leadership position to help me run my company. Bonnie Atkinson has been our part-time Business Operations Director for the last year. She’s been learning the company, the team, and helping us increase our profitability by 85% since 2018. So, it’s fair to say, I’m not mad about it.
But making the decision to bring on a full-time C-Suite role isn’t an easy one. Not only is it a financial risk, you open yourself up to be even more vulnerable than you already are. This is the only other person in our company that knows all of the details of all of the numbers. Knows the good and the bad. Knows all the secrets of the trade.
But man, let me tell ya. I can’t recommend it enough.
So if you’re in a position to bring on a true co-leader and hire your right-hand person to help run your business, here are a few things you might want to consider that I’ve been bouncing around for the last few months:
Ensure mutual trust. Stop right there. Do not even entertain the thought of bringing this person into the cockpit of your business if you don’t 100% trust them. We all know you can’t teach trust, so it’s either there or it isn’t. But don’t put yourself or your business in the hands of someone you don’t 100% trust. And this goes both ways. They need to know you’ll have their back in all the ways you want them to have yours. They need to know you’ll act in the best interest of the company, just as you expect them to do. This is so important. It’s not even worth reading the rest of this post if you don’t have trust. But keep reading. This is quality stuff, yo.
Discuss financial compensation. Every small business is different, but there’s a reason we operate so lean, it makes smart business sense for us. However, at some point, you have to spend money to make money and sometimes that money is spent on people and their salaries. Have an honest conversation about financial needs and expectations. What are they willing to sign on for now and how can they help grow the company so everyone (including them) benefits.
Set realistic expectations. This is not a 40-hour a week position. When you run a small business, you’re on 24/7. Now, I’m not saying that you should be nor that your job description should state that, but make sure you have honest conversations about what you expect from this person and allow them to share what they expect as well.
Confirm what they want out of this opportunity. I literally asked Bonnie “what do you want from this role?” You have to know. You should know what you want out of this role and you need to know what they want out of this role. Have these conversations upfront so there are no surprises later.
Set performance benchmarks together. Just like when we work with clients, we establish goals upfront to make sure everyone is working towards the same thing. The same thing applies here. Set your revenue, adjusted gross income (AGI), operations, and profit goals now and do that together. Create a forecast for the next few years so you can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Discuss how you’re going to get there together. Because, unlike everything else in the history of your business, you no longer have to do this alone.
Establish growth and ownership goals. This too will be different for each business. Some C-Suite roles want ownership. Some would prefer a percent of profit or an expense account. Some want to partake in a profit-sharing 401k. Whatever is the case for you and your new co-pilot, have those tough conversations now and get them in writing. Know what you can currently offer and establish the growth milestones you want to achieve together and the compensation that should accompany them. After all, if you’re gonna haul ass to grow a business together, there should be some upside at some point, right?
Confirm mutual like. You’re going to be spending a lot of time together. Ensure that you both like each other. You enjoy spending time together. You value the same things. Can you talk about your personal lives with one another? No, that also shouldn’t be part of the job description, but it should be something you can talk about. There aren’t many clear cut lines between personal and professional lives when you run a small business. They all blur together. So ensuring you can discuss your personal goals and have a little fun together is a really good thing.
I’ve talked to about a dozen business owners this year who have all said this hire is their next and most important one. This hire is what will finally give them the opportunity to breathe a little deeper, to grow their business and to relieve some of the burdens of making all the big decisions on their own. I’ll raise my hand and echo all of those notions.
So when you’re feeling like you’re army crawling and not just because the holidays kick everyone’s ass, but because you’re burned out and need to find a long-term solution, consider this one. Maybe not full-time, maybe you start someone part-time. Ultimately, you have to do what’s best for you and your business, but trust me, it’s a game-changer.
At the end of the day, you are uniquely positioned to do a handful of things to better your business that no one else can do. Do yourself and your business a favor and bring in someone to lighten your load and take over the things they do really well (and probably better than you) so you can free up your time to do what you do best so everyone wins.