Suddenly you have too much work to do. Your stress level starts to rise. How are you going to meet all those deadlines? Maybe it’s time to hire someone—but before you do, here are some things to consider.

1.     What is Your Biggest Need?

Identify what tasks are falling behind:

  • Administration—answering the phone, running the office, bookkeeping;
  • Research support—collecting or analyzing data;
  • Senior tasks—more of the same work you do;
  • Something else?
If you knowing the skills you need, you can start looking for someone faster.

2.     How Much Support Do You Need? For How Long?

Quantify your needs:
  • How many hours per week?
  • Full-time or part-time?
  • One project or several?
  • How long will the work last?
If you have short-term needs, a sub-contractor may be the answer. This individual is self-employed and works on specific tasks for a defined period of time. If you hire a staff member, whether full- or part-time, you are making a longer-term commitment. Be clear about how much support you need and this will help you determine the right employment arrangement.

3.     Where Will This Person Work?

Will it be your office or theirs? If it’s yours, think about office space, furniture, equipment, supplies. If it’s theirs, ask:
  • Are their telephone and computer capabilities compatible with yours?
  • Can they access the software and databases needed to do you work?
  • How will you both share documents and files?
  • Do they have the security requirements your clients need?
Solving infrastructure needs now will get this person to work more quickly.

4.     Do You Want to Be a Manager?

When you hire someone, you automatically become a manager. Are you ready for that? Think about:
  • How long it will take to define tasks and make sure they get done;
  • How you will supervise progress and communicate feedback;
  • How you will ensure project quality, completeness, and timeliness.
Management takes time so it helps if you have some management skills already. Make sure that the support you gain is worth the time you have to put into it.

5.     What about Costs?

Finally, how much will this cost?
  • Do you have enough confirmed contracts to afford this person?
  • Is your cash flow predictable enough to pay them regularly?
  • Have you explored taxes, benefits, and other payroll expenses?
  • Do you know what governments require of employers?
Hiring someone is a big step for a sole practitioner but it may be right for you. Plan ahead for the impact it will have on your business. You and your new employee may be more energized and productive than you ever thought possible!


Barrington, G. V. (2012). Consulting Start-up and Management: A Guide for Evaluators and Applied Researchers. Los Angeles: SAGE.

Next up: Insurance Primer

Thanks to Jan Upton and Danyell Lewis of Institutional Research Consultants, Ltd. for their insights.

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