Growing Your Team, Starting with 5 Hours

I recently wrote an article for WeddingIQ on growing your team. Here is an excerpt below. Head on over to this fabulous wedding industry resource to catch the rest!

In my previous life prior to the wedding industry, I was in Human Resources Management. People always ask me how they should go from being a solo entrepreneur to growing their team. My response is usually “5 hours a week.” Usually it’s not realistic to hire a full-time employee right off the bat, or even after several years of being in business. So, in my opinion the best way to start growing your team is by doing so with a part-time, 5 hour a week position. Yes, that’s possible! There are so many people itching to get their foot in the door, and this is a great way for them to learn, gain exposure, and help you and your business at the same time.

Here’s what you need to do….

head on over to WeddingIQ to read the rest!

And, if you’re looking for help with hiring and training, check out The People Plan, our HR toolbox.

When Your Contractor Doesn’t want to be Categorized as an Employee

You may get to the point where you have to change the terms of your working relationship with a contractor to that of an employee. Some contractors DO NOT want to be classified as employees. Keep in mind… this isn’t really a choice that you or they make.

If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck.

(Make sure to review this post and this post on the difference between a contractor and an employee. You may be breaking the tax law.)

One of the reasons a worker may not want to be classified as an employee is that taxes will now be deducted from their pay. And their thought is: “I don’t want to pay taxes.” {this is a a misunderstanding of how taxes work}

Here’s the thing…

Even tho taxes are NOT directly deducted from the a contractor’s pay, they ARE paying taxes. This is one of the reasons companies are required to provide 1099s. Income stated on the 1099 is what that contractor has to report on their 1040 tax filing. Contractors are required to pay tax on April 15th on all 1099 income. (They aren’t getting it deducted from their paycheck… but they are ultimately having to pay it when they file their taxes.)

Here is the other thing… contractors actually pay MORE in taxes than employees. Contractors are responsible for paying ALL income tax (and social security, FICA, medicare), whereas employees share taxes (social security, FICA, medicare) with employers.

Here is an example of what I’m talking about:

(these tax rates are random examples and not indicative of real tax rates)

Contractor

Pay:                    $1000
– Taxes                  $200 (20% tax rate – ALL due from CONTRACTOR)
Net Pay              $800

Employee

Pay:                    $1000
Taxes:                $200 (20% tax rate –> but half of this is required of EMPLOYER)

Employee pays $100 in taxes; Employer pays $100 in taxes

Pay:                    $1000
Taxes:                $100 (10% tax rate –> EMPLOYEE responsibility)
Net Pay              $900

So… you can see… a contractor is paying $100 more in taxes than an employee in this example. (This difference is called ‘self-employment tax’.)

What does this mean for you, the employer?

As you can see, this also means that YOU, as the employer, are responsible for paying taxes that you wouldn’t otherwise have if this worker were classified as an employee. But, in my experience, the added taxes are completely worth the ability to really invest in that worker and to have them invest in my company. (And, like I said, you don’t have a choice in the matter. Know the tax law where contractors are concerned, or you could owe fines and penalties on misclassified workers.)

It also helps for you to explain this to a contractor that needs to be classified as an employee. They’ll see that the financial benefit is actually a good one for them.

Do you need to know more about contractors and employees? Do you need help on hiring, training, and managing your team? Check out The People Plan, our hiring toolbox: www.thepeopleplan.biz .

5 Must-Ask Interview Questions

Interviewing employees can be quite the challenge. How do you find quality individuals to do a consistently outstanding job for you? I’m a big proponent of hiring for values before skills. So, how do you get to the heart of somebody? How do you determine whether that individual has values that align with your business’s core philosophy?

InterviewQsHere are…

5 of my favorite interview questions:

1. Share a time where you went above and beyond for the client.

This question is one of my favorites because I believe that service is important regardless of the position. Even if you have an employee that’s behind the scenes, this person should still have a team mentality. And, a team mentality requires that every employee, serve one one another. I want to make sure that this person knows what it means to go above and beyond… whether it is for a client, or for me, or for a coworker of theirs.

2. Tell me about a situation where you faced a huge challenge (in a work situation). How did you solve the problem?

I want problem solvers. I want people who can think out-of-the-box. I want people who are resourceful and creative. Again, regardless of the position, I want people who are thinkers. In my stationery business, I hired assembly workers. Even though this wasn’t a highly analytical job, I needed to be confident that an employee would be able to do damage control in a time of crisis. This didn’t change the fact that I still needed to TRAIN my employees. But, knowing that employee of mine is a good problem-solver is going to make my job a bit easier so that I don’t have to hover over them while they work.

3. Tell me about a situation where you made a mistake in your job, and how you fixed it.

Again, I want to get a better feel for how this potential employee solves problems. I also want to make sure that, if a mistake is made in the job, this personal takes responsibility for it. Mistakes do happen. How do we move past them?

4. How do you deal with tedium and repetition(insert your situational description)

This is a very specific question that I used to ask people that I was interviewing for invitation assembly. When you’re constructing thousands of invitations that are all the same, you can get extremely bored. But some people really love the rhythmic nature of putting something together repeatedly. (I found it to be incredibly cathartic, personally.) I want to know that they will thrive in that situation, or have strategies to push through.

This question should be tailored to the nature of the job for which you’re interviewing. Basically, you want to get a question that addresses the worst aspect of the job that you’re asking for. If it’s invitation assembly, it’s tedium and repetition. If you’re interviewing for a wedding planner associate, you’d likely want to ask how to deal with difficult people. A good question might be: “How do you deal with people yelling at you?” The goal is to put that candidate in the position that they might face in the job (a worst-case-scenario) and find out how they would react.

5. How would you benefit by having this job?
(In other words, what sort of experience are you looking to gain? What motivates you to work for my business?)

I’m a firm believer in being a mentor to any of my employees. If I know upfront what motivates someone to work for me, I can determine whether this job is a good fit for that person. You see… hiring an employee is more than just filling a role in my business. I really want to know if this job is going to help somebody out in terms of their future. It could be an entry-level job for somebody who’s in college… and I want to know what sort of experience this will give that person in their “real job.” Or, it could be somebody that is looking for a secondary job to just pay the bills… and that’s fine. If I know upfront what motivates this person to apply for this position, it makes it so much easier for me to customize their job a little bit more so they have more job satisfaction. I have found that this gives people an incredible amount of loyalty. If I’m invested in this employee’s future and career, then they are going to be a lot more invested in my business.

What do you think? What are your favorite questions to ask in an interview? Please share and comment below.

If you want to know more about hiring, training, and managing employees, make sure to check out our human resources toolbox, The People Plan: www.thepeopleplan.biz .

Learn to Delegate: Which Tasks Should You Relinquish Control Over?

When you run your own wedding business, it can be a challenge to keep track of all of your clients and their individual needs. No matter how organized you are, no matter what kind of notes you keep, something is bound to fall through the cracks sooner or later. When that moment comes, you will realize that you simply cannot do it all by yourself — you need help.

checklist-150938_1280Why Delegation Is Important

Would you label yourself a control freak? No? What about your friends and staff members — they might have a different opinion. (Sorry – just using my years of observation to call you out! HA! 😉 )

Small business owners have a tendency to try to control every aspect of their businesses. You’ve built your business from the ground up, after all, and you’d hate to see it flounder in the hands of another. The key to success for some of the most lucrative wedding businesses out there, however, is delegation — creating a division of labor and assigning the right people to the job.

Rather than putting an average level of effort into all aspects of your wedding business by yourself, why not delegate a few things so that every task gets the attention and level of expertise that it deserves? You still need to provide some oversight and guidance, of course, but letting someone else handle the details will take a great deal of stress off your plate, and it will yield better results.

5 Steps for Learning to Delegate

There is a right way and a wrong way to implement delegation in your wedding business. You cannot simply make a list of tasks to be completed then hand them out willy-nilly. You need to think carefully about which tasks you should keep for yourself and then draw from your pool of staff members to find the right person for the rest of the jobs to be completed. Follow the steps below to determine which tasks you should delegate and which you should keep for yourself:

  1. Make a list of all the tasks that need to be done — this list could apply to a certain client’s wedding, or it could apply to your business as a whole.
  2. Review the list and circle the tasks that you do not enjoy doing — everyone has different gifts and different fields of expertise, so if you do not enjoy keeping track of your business’ finances but one of your staff members has a history in accounting, hand it over! (Or – outsource this to a bookkeeper. You can delegate to people OUTSIDE of your business.)
  3. Start small by choosing three tasks from the list to delegate — select three tasks that are important to get done and that you do not mind handing over to someone else. (That’s it! THREE!)
  4. Assign these tasks to the people you think are best qualified to complete them — it also helps if those people enjoy the type of work required for the task.
  5. Take a deep breath and let it go — once you’ve assigned your tasks to the right people, you need to step back and let them work. Make sure you’ve trained them adequately, make yourself available for questions, and check in now and then for progress reports, but do not micromanage.

Now that you have a good idea what it means to delegate and how to go about choosing the right people for the job, you can take some time to think about which tasks you should relinquish control over for your own business. Do you have a staff member who is gifted with website design or maybe someone who loves to speak with clients over the phone? Perhaps one of your staff is eager to take on more responsibility in the company. The options for delegation are endless — it all depends on what tasks you enjoy doing, those you do not, and what kind of skills and expertise your staff members have.

Remember, it is more important to have the right person assigned to the job at hand than to try to handle everything yourself. That is the best way to grow your business.

How have you managed delegation? Share your success tips in a comment below.

Creating Cohesive Relationships with Your Coworkers

Today’s guest post is written by Amy Green & Melanie Marconi of ‘Where Will They Stay?. These ladies have some wonderful tips for how to keep things fun, supportive, and positive amongst team-members in your business.

Taking a company to the next level requires careful planning, informed decision-making, smart growth – and the ability to keep peace even under the extreme pressure of pursuing success. At our company, there are four partners, and a growing number of employees. Even after 10 years in business, creating cohesive relationships in the office is still a daily challenge. Of course, these relationships are further taxed by the necessity of conducting off-site client meetings, constant travel, and weekly hotel site visits. If it all sounds overwhelming, never fear. We have developed several strategies to help you create cohesive relationships in your office.

Creative Commons: flickr.com/photos/aroberts/

Creative Commons: flickr.com/photos/aroberts/

Weekly Staff Meetings

In the past, we used to cancel weekly staff and partner meetings when one or more of us were out of the office. However, a few years ago, we implemented a policy where weekly meetings happen no matter what. Hopefully, all of us can either be there in person, or call-in, but even when someone is absent, we don’t cancel the weekly check-ins, which are invaluable to keeping us moving forward.

Respect the Time of Others

Another way to endear yourself to your coworkers is to respect their time. In a burgeoning powerhouse of a company, no one can afford to waste time, or lose precious minutes to disorganization or off-task behavior. Start by ensuring that each of your scheduled meetings has a recognized purpose, then set agendas that are accurate when they are released. Announce your meetings in advance, be clear about your expectations, and use your meeting time very wisely. Everyone will leave your meetings feeling more accomplished and ready to work together to make a true difference.

Out of the Office Retreats

Nothing is better for bonding than taking a day or two for an internal retreat. Retreats allow employees time to bond away from the office, and learn more about each other as individuals, and as future leaders. If budgets are limited, do a 1-day staycation –inspired meeting, where a full day is spent off-site together brainstorming big picture planning. Check local hotels, country clubs, or even park recreation centers for some off-site meeting room inspiration. Take advantage of the time together to learn what makes each person tick.

Third Party Advisors  

When conflicts inevitably arise, or when the path forward isn’t clear, we have a trusted business coach to advise us. Small business coaches are trained to identify strengths and weaknesses, and to help move a group forward despite the odds. They may act, informally, as mediators when two partners argue, or they may encourage one to talk in order to resolve conflict.

You will find that creating cohesion among your coworkers is a rewarding way to let them know that you appreciate them, and that they are quite valuable. It also results in a harmonious work environment that requires very little care, but allows for so many milestones to be achieved. Make conscientious efforts to discover what makes each of your coworkers tick. This will pay off in love and support many times over.

AmyGreen&MelanieMarconiAmy Green and Melanie Marconi are the founders of BDI Events, a full-service event planning company based in Los Angeles, with offices in Portland. They recently launched Where Will They Stay?, a free service which offers custom room block procurement for event planners and event venues.