Hi Nick, Richard,
Obviously i cant tell you whether to hire an employee. It's your business and ultimately your decision. I have no idea what your cash flow is, how much you get for each piece or how long it takes for you to build a piece.
However, I can ask a few questions that might get you thinking ion the right way. Ask yourself this question "what is value adding? and what is not value adding?"
In the strictest sense, an activity is value adding if it is something the customer will pay for. you are transforming lumber into some thing beautiful (hopefully
) and customers will pay for that.. that is why they are commisioning you to do the work. However, there are a lot of things that you do that the customer doesnt care about. you need to do it, but they arent willing to pay for it.
so, as an example, planing a piece of wood is a value adding activity. so is glueing screwing, finishing etc.
Sweeping up after you make a mess is not value adding.the customer doesnt care if you work in mess.. as long as the work is done. paying bills in not value adding.. the customer doesnt care if you get the wood for free.. as long as they get what they are paying for. these activities do not transformt eh wood in any way.
Non-value adding activities are either necessary on non-necessary for your business. the necessary nonvalue add activities are things the business just needs to do and you have to wear the cost, paying bills, creating invoices, managing the books etc. Non-necessary non-value add activities are the things you do, that a customer wont pay for and you just dont need to do. As an example, you go to the local lumber store, buy a whole pile of stuff get home and realise you forgot to get a particular widget... you have to go back to the lumber store to get something you should have gotten in teh first place.
for your business, as a one man band ask yourself what activities you personally can add the most value to. what activities do you have to do, bbut waste a lot of time on and what activities do you do that you just shouldnt. the answer to these questions will hopefully guide you to a solution around whether you need to hire help.
So, as an example, you should be spending as much time on the tools as possible.... thats what you do.. thats where you make your money.
obviously you have to sort out bills and invoices. Can you group them and hire a book keeper one day a week so that all of the book work gets sorted in one hit? (note that if you do this you are hiring someone.. just not a full tiume employee). I'm not sure what its like in the US, but in Australia there are a number of firms and franchises that specialise in book keeping for smaller business's (just remmeber. if you go down this path conduct regular audits.. you dont want the book keeper making mistakes)
you have to clean the work shop. Can you hire a local school kid (get a recommendation from the shop teacher) to come in every day after school to clean up after you? once again, you are hiring someone, but not a full time employee. If you work from rouch stock you could get the kid to dress it for you ready for the next day's work.
Plan your jobs, figure out as much as you can before hand so you only go to the store once, or if you forget somethign, wait till you have to go back for other things.
I cant post documents on the forum, but if you PM me with your email address i should be able to fire off some readingmaterial that may help.
the examples i have given are essentially examples of outsourcing.. your core business is skilled
working with wood and you pay some one else to do all the other stuff for you. now, as you grow you can start to insource... ie hire people to do that stuff for you as opposed to contracting someone. that way you grow your output and size
Now.. the next question is whether you do one off pieces or not? if you do, its a bit difficult, but if possible, batch as much as you can.. by performing batch operations you can minimise set up time.
I hope this has helped in some way.