Should You Hire an Intern or Volunteer?

Your small business has reached a peak that can either make or break your productivity. Growth and increased revenue are often great things but can often overwhelm the inexperienced freelancer or small operation. While getting additional help is often the solution, it helps to take a good look at factors before placing an online ad and hiring an assistant. Here are some freelancing fields with the most growth and other interesting statistics.

While you may have some guidelines that'll determine where your operation goes next, here are a few questions you may want to ask yourself. Especially if you're investing a significant amount of money. Pinpointing some things will often help you create a simple forecast of what's to come

Why is My Business Growing? 

If it's one client that's bringing you new and ongoing profits, look at your business features that may have impressed them. It can also be a time of year or event that's causing the swell in revenue. If you can't answer these questions, it may help to wait or add automation to increase productivity. It's cheaper than hiring and getting to know a new person in your business life.

Who is the Ideal Assistant?

Determining a skillset may be the easy part but you also need to look at personality, past work experience, and any education or industry credentials. Keep in mind that the more qualities you look for, the more likely you'll have to pay money. I've seen situations where people bring on friends and relatives to volunteer because they asked for a "zero" salary but this is usually a temporary solution.

Where is the Best Place to Find Someone?

Sometimes asking around is the best way to narrow down your search. This can be a time (and energy) - consuming process, so you want to preserve yourself as much as possible. General onboarding sites like Upwork can present many prospects if you just want to communicate with a lot of people or create a pool of individuals with a certain skill set. If you're someone who knows a volunteer is best for your budget, lining up 2-5 people is a good idea.

What are the Assistant Expectations?

Once again, the more you ask for, the more you'll likely have to pay. If you choose to go with an unpaid intern, colleges often set the rules of what's to be expected. There are also employment laws

to consider since this is where some things can get blurry for both parties. Keep in mind that the person you hire will need some kind of continuous income in the near future. If an unpaid (or low-paid) assistant is loyal to you for a year or more, they deserve more than a letter of recommendation.

How Long is the Duration?

Ah, time. Figure in time to get acquainted, hours worked every week, and the number of commitment months both parties agreed to. Sounds good on paper but what about the unexpected? You can hit a slow spell or they may get a job offer they can't refuse. Finding a long-term volunteer with a specialty or has certain knowledge can be tricky but not impossible. Be realistic when it comes to the individual and the time you're willing to invest.

Should you find yourself in a place where details need to be worked out, here are some suggestions to keep things moving in the meantime - 

  1. Utilize social media calendar software - Hootsuite, Google Drive, and many others offer sensible solutions for keeping engagement and marketing tools organized and searchable.
  2. Try financial reporting software - there are many types that are free or start as low as $7 a month and it's a good way to predict whether you can afford to hire a part-time assistant or paid intern.
  3. Organizing your time - while this book is designed for home use, many of its downloadable pages can be used to make multitasking matter
  4. Consider an online volunteer - often career changers, students, and others prefer a remote opportunity that will give them experience. While this may present certain barriers, it could be the best way to find someone with minimal commitment. Just remember it can go both ways so keep communication open.