4 Steps That Prove You Can’t Afford Not to Hire Your First Employee


For years, I tried to do everything alone in my business. As a house flipper, I would find properties, arrange financing, tile bathrooms, clean old refrigerators, install carpet and do almost every other task needed to make a profit.

I struggled — a lot. But when I started hiring out more and more tasks, I began making more and more money.

Of course, you’ve heard that a million times. But knowing and doing are two different things, aren’t they? Yes, hiring someone else is obvious. But being able to afford that someone is not so easy. After all, you’re probably thinking: “I can’t afford to hire my first employee! I hardly make any money!”

I was there, too. I get it. But here’s my simple answer to that: You can’t afford NOT to. Here’s why.


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How an employee will change your business

What is your time worth? If I offered you $10 to stop what you are doing and sit in a dark room for an hour, would you do it? How about for $100? How about $1,000? At some point, I’m going to cross the threshold of what your time is worth, where you’d be making more money sitting in that room than you’d make outside of it.

Of course, that number is different for each person, but let me say something you may find shocking: Every single day, you are making that one-hour trade for just $10. Sometimes for far less.

“No way!” you might insist. But first answer these questions:

  • Do you check your own email?
  • Do you check your Facebook?
  • Do you schedule appointments and meetings?
  • Do you handle tech support?

If you are doing these tasks, you are essentially working for just a few dollars per hour, because this is what it would cost for someone else to do the task for you. Perhaps these tasks are not as bad as sitting in a dark room, but the results are the same: Your real work is not getting done. The real, life-changing work that’s going to propel your business forward is sitting there on the back burner.

Related: #AskBP 058: How Do You Decide Whether to Hire Someone or Do It Yourself?

That’s how an employee will change your life. By outsourcing those simple tasks, you’ll enable yourself to work on only the things that matter, the $1,000- and $10,000-per-hour tasks that you — and you alone — can do. You’ll have the same number of hours in a day as Dr. Oz, Bill Gates, Taylor Swift and Oprah. How do they accomplish so much more? They work only on their $10,000- (or $100,000)-per-hour tasks, while you’re working on your $10-per-hour ones.

Okay, so now you are convinced about needing that new employee. But you still can’t afford to hire one, right? Here are four steps to getting there.

1. Sacrifice for the moment.

How badly do you really want success? If hiring an employee can help turn your struggling/small business into something greater, you will need to sacrifice to make it happen — at least in the beginning.

When my business couldn’t afford an assistant for me, I paid for this addition out of my own pocket, trimming my monthly expenses to make it happen. You can do the same! Make a budget and stick to it. Stop eating out for a few months. Work extra hours to make more income. Hustle.

2. Hire the right person.

The right employee can produce ten times what he or she cost you. You’ll have purchased the world’s best slot machine! However, the worst employee will cost you ten times more than they bring in. Not so good.

Therefore, you must hire the right person to make your investment pay off. So, take the time to learn how to hire the right person, how to interview, how to screen and how to offer the right amount. Know that this decision could be the number-one most important decision you will ever make in your business, so don’t treat it lightly.

3. Hire part-time if needed.

If you can’t afford someone 40 hours per week, don’t sweat it. There are a lot of people out there looking for part-time work.

Several years ago, we hired a woman, to look after our rental properties, who didn’t want to work more than ten hours per week. The job was perfect for her, perfect for us; and, suddenly, I no longer had to show vacant units, screen tenants, answer phone calls and deal with tenant drama. Just last month, we hired a maintenance guy who wanted just 15 hours a week — also perfect for the level of work we currently have. So, forget always thinking in terms of full-time; think part-time if that’s what you need.


4. Hire on commission.

Finally, when you hire an incredible employee, make sure he or she is significantly rewarded for making you money. After all, a salary is nice, but salary is expected.

When a rock-star employee has something to work toward and no limit to potential income, he or she will work significantly harder and smarter for you. Your goals will also be suddenly aligned, and your rocket ship will be able to truly launch into space.

What’s more, you can hire on straight commission or maybe a salary/commission split. For example, we recently hired an acquisitions manager for my real estate business. We hired her at a basic monthly salary, but offered an extra $1,000 per deal that she could help us buy — and no limit.

Related: The Step Every Entrepreneur Should Take BEFORE Hiring New Employees

It worked: She helped us close her first deal in just eight days and was the best $1,000 check I’ve ever written! If she wants to earn $100,000 this year, that’s totally up to her — and I hope she does, because it means I will have made a lot more.

The sky will be the limit for both of us. And it can be, for you, too. The only thing standing in the way is that first hire. So, what are you waiting for?

Together, you’ll be able to take your business higher than you ever imagined. You’ll be able to focus on the tasks that truly will help you dominate.

So, get out there and start the ball rolling to hiring your first employee today.

Are you at the point where you’re ready to hire that first employee?

Let me know with a comment!

About Author

Brandon Turner

Brandon Turner (G+ | Twitter) spends a lot of time on BiggerPockets.com. Like... seriously... a lot. Oh, and he is also an active real estate investor, entrepreneur, traveler, third-person speaker, husband, and author of "The Book on Investing in Real Estate with No (and Low) Money Down", and "The Book on Rental Property Investing" which you should probably read if you want to do more deals.


  1. Jerry W.

    Nice article. I could use the help, but I struggle to find someone I can afford who can do the job. I only have a little over 30 units and what extra cash they generate I usually spend on fixing up units with. I am also trying to save out of my day job and pay off a note I have coming due early next year. It was money used for down payment on buying a property 4 years ago. I will have enough equity to refinance and pay the note off, but if I pay it off without refinancing it increases my cash flow several hundred dollars a month. Twice I have gotten part time handymen just to have them take other jobs and move away. This is going to take some work.

    • Ronald Perich

      At our local REIA, an experienced investor told us you need less than ten or more than 50 doors as an investor, When you are in that grey zone of 10-50 doors, it’s a real struggle to find help you need that you can also afford. Unfortunately, I’m in this grey zone, too, and need to quickly get out of it.

      Maybe I can find a stay-at-home parent who wants to make a little side money while maintaining their skills.

  2. Kimberly H.

    Struggling with this myself. Reading about insurance requirements to have someone driving to work for me, commercial insurance to come to my home office, payroll withholdings adds so much more than the hourly rate. 1099 seems to solve some problems unless you figure out the definitions of an independent contractor versus employee. I don’t know how other small businesses get past these hurdles.

  3. Joe Trometer

    Great article and something I really Worry about…

    Yes, Hiring is important. Paying the overhead for an employee can be staggering with workers-compensation insurance, liability insurance, some will need health insurance, payroll income taxes, matched social security tax, payroll accounting time or paid service.

    The advertising and interviewing process is also concern with no experience in hiring. Laws apply just like advertising and renting to tenants. Follow the discrimination laws and beware the “Testers”.

    Of course there’s is the popularity of taking your chances of paying under the table, chancing health and accidental injury exposure, and when over $600 of labor cost in my State, exposure to tax evasion scares me.

    My solution…

    In the past I used “Temp Help” – a temporary full or part time employee provided by a service.
    This was for remodeling help… I paid to the company $14.00 per hour with a minimum of 4 hours per day. The Temp-Help service paid for all the insurances, payroll tax, and provided the paychecks to helpers.

    The Temp-Help person is the employee of the Temp-Help company, with matched skills to work for me.

    Don’t care for the person they sent you? Personality conflicts? Not a good match? Just tell the Temp-Help company to send you someone else as quick as the next day.

    Office work, website work, marketing work, advertising, design, accounting, and anything you need that doesn’t need a live person at your home, job-site, or office can be hired via a Virtual Assistant company for a one-off project to full time.

    • Kimberly H.

      Thanks Joe, I think a lot of people don’t know about these things so they don’t worry about them. In the past few days I have interviewed some virtual assistants, both independent in Upwork and a couple VA companies and am probably going to hire a virtual assistant company part-time. I’ll have to look into Temp Help services for when I need in-person help, I hadn’t thought of that. I used to use TaskRabbit but they completely destroyed it when they revamped the website and now there is only like one guy available at like $50/hr.

  4. Ashley Wilson

    Fantastic article and makes a lot of sense! I feel like the first hardest thing for someone to do is to jump into Real Estate, and the second is probably this! Thank you for outlining the number sense behind this next step!

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