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And the business evolves... Becoming employers Business success Change your life

Recruiting again!

Yup, we are moving up a notch – another one – and it’s still scary, overwhelming, advancing, exhilarating, terrifying… all the feels in one.

It’s almost three months since T joined us and despite my hesitation at the time I knew the only way we would move forward would be with him on board. Since he joined us we’ve gone from strength to strength.

His expertise and experience in selling bathrooms has been worth every penny. He is able to visit potential clients and price jobs in about a quarter of the time it used to take me. He accompanies them to showrooms and is able to advise on the products in a way I could never do.

He still needs work and support in project managing, because he has never done that, but with his initiative and erm, for want of a better word, what my Grandma used to call ‘gumption’ I have no doubt that won’t be far away.

I guess my only concern, although that is too strong a word really, would be that I have to keep reminding him to fill in the wall boards and our online sheets, updating on the progress of each job. He’s not brilliant at that and while it’s not so much of an issue now, when we have 10 people in his department it is going to be imperative that each one knows exactly what is happening with every job. I don’t want a business where a client rings and is told the person working on their job is off that day, I want everyone to know what’s happening. So that needs working on, but I am not concerned exactly.

Yet we have a problem. The bathrooms need to get faster. D and C are doing great but C is still very young and slow at many things. T joins them half the time as an extra pair of hands but he also has no experience, his enthusiasm only goes so far. We have a situation where D is still doing everything but also training two newbies and we can’t fly like we need to.

We need the impossible – someone of D’s caliber and experience. Cloning D isn’t possible right now so I did a Facebook advert last week and sat back to see what would happen.

And then it struck us. Sheezle this is taking things to another level! Suddenly it has all become real – again. Taking on young beginners is one thing, taking on equals – as with T – is another.

How much are we paying? Well, we don’t know! We didn’t know who was going to come forward.

As when T joined us, we can’t afford to take on anyone else, but we know we have to, so we must, and we will make it work. Probably we should be sitting down and going through the budget and allocating a wage but we don’t seem to be able to work like that – yet. It is still a case of the business catching up with the workload and the workload creating the profit. I still find numbers and budgets a bit confusing and hard work and I am aware I need someone to work through it with me.

Off the back of our advert some fantastic people have come forward to join us. We are in a superb position and I am so grateful. I did actually use the Law of Attraction again this week, heavily thanking the Universe for the amazing and perfect people who were coming into our life. Once again I am convinced it worked. A couple of people came forward who we already knew but never expected to hear from. One guy – no one we knew previously – came for an ‘interview’ on Friday and I think he might just be the one.

So, exciting times again! In the midst of it all life continues as normal, whatever normal is.

 

 

 

And the business evolves... Becoming employers Hiring your first employee Leap of Faith

The Big Goodbye – and New Beginnings!

Crazy times! An ending, a beginning – and a leap of faith over a canyon so wide I can’t even see the side I’m supposed to be landing on.

So we’ve done it. As every evolving, growing, business needs to, we have crossed a huge employment milestone. We’ve dismissed our first employee.

We took C on in July 2016, back when we were general builders and knew that to grow we needed someone. But who? The very fact of being general made it hard to recruit anyone. Taking on an apprentice wasn’t an option for that exact reason. We knew few people around here and because we didn’t have much money we knew we could only afford to pay our employee minimum wage.

Then we met C, working behind the counter of a local builders’ merchants. I could see he was good with customers, reliable, appeared to work hard. Over the months of being served regularly by him I learned he wanted to do more. It was a case of why not him?

He has been a great employee in many ways. Loyal, steadfast, reliable. He’s been generally very amenable and done most of what we ask. He claimed to be an experienced decorator but it soon turned out he wasn’t, in fact he had little experience in most areas, but after years of working alone it’s probably fair to say D was a control freak and so they were probably well-matched. I am really grateful that our first experience of employment was such a positive one.

The problem is, as we have grown, and as D has evolved, C hasn’t really.

He promised us he would be learning to drive soon, which hasn’t happened.

He is slow and steady, but sometimes sloppy, which has been frustrating.

Last year, as we specialised in bathrooms, we took a gamble on him and paid for him to go on a course. Before it began we spoke about how we didn’t want him to stay on minimum wage forever, we were looking for someone to become an equal member of the team, to work hard and fast with us and to earn decent money once the business was on its feet.

He did well on the course, but his performance since then hasn’t been great. Constant, regular, mistakes. Working so incredibly slow. And no progress whatsover on the driving.

So, after the fourth job in a row where sloppiness caused a major issue, we had a serious talk with him. We gave him a month to improve – to get faster and to get better. Beginners’ mistakes are one thing, not doing what you have been told to do several times is another. He is a fantastic second man, but as a small business we only have room for first men right now, and so on Wednesday, after two more major mistakes, D verbally gave him notice. Contractually we only need to give him a week, but because he’s been so good in other ways he gave him two weeks from Friday – just under two and a half weeks.

I followed it up in writing the next day. It has all been very good-natured, but I know things can change when you’re working your notice so I am a little nervous about the next couple of weeks and I will be glad when he has gone.

He has also always been a little bit weird around me. He worships D, which is fair enough, but often I have arrived on a job and he has ignored me. It’s strange as I am his boss just as much as D is, and it’s frustrating. I  don’t want to turn this into a rant about sexism, because it might not be, and some men are weird around women, like the guy I blogged about here, but he has definitely seen D as his boss, not me, which is odd because it’s me who runs the entire business.

On Thursday he was working alone in the yard, filling the skip. I asked him to come and talk to me – clearly I was going to discuss money and what was owed/owing – and he refused, saying he and D had sorted it. I asked him to talk to me three times and every time he looked at me, shook his head and said there was no need, he and D had sorted it all. I even said D doesn’t know about money, how can you have sorted it and he shook his head and said no no, it’s cool. It was strange. Rude. And totally not anything I have ever come across before – I have never in my working life refused a conversation with my boss.

So part of me is glad he is going, because I will definitely feel more comfortable going to sites knowing that he won’t be there.

So, you might be wondering, what are we going to do now? Believe me, much discussion has gone on about how we would cope, and both D and his eldest son, C2, who joined us back in November, felt that C1 has actually been holding us back, slowing us down on jobs and stopping progress. They both feel they will go faster as a twosome, which is crazy!

I wrote here about how one of our suppliers, T, a showroom manager, had been made redundant, and how a couple of months earlier I’d mentioned to D that I thought he would end up working for us at some point.

I’m not sure how we are going to do this, but we’ve recently been talking and I am absolutely of the belief that we NEED him. The business NEEDS him. We cannot afford NOT to take him on.

So, somehow, it will happen. We will let the dust settle after C’s departure and then he will join us – taking over the parts I’m finding hardest, pricing, selling products, project managing. Possibly part time very very initially, but he doesn’t want part time for long and so maybe he does several jobs – sales, ordering products, managing the orders, project managing the job and also mucking in manually where required.

I am in effect doing myself out of a job but that’s fantastic, I’m really not enjoying that side at all. Weirdly, for someone who has never been good at numbers, I am finding the accounting/finance more and more of interest, and so I may go down that avenue.

And if T takes over the things I’m finding hard, and I’m soooooooo slow at, that will free me up to crack on with the things I am best at – thinking big picture, coming up with new ideas, marketing, networking, building us up. Because this business, passionate though I am about it, is only the first of many. There are so many ideas in my head!

And although it seems crazy to be talking about taking on someone expensive when common sense says I should continue doing it and learn the trade, my heart tells me that taking this gigantic, terrifying leap of faith is the best thing we could be doing.

 

Becoming employers Business success HMRC

How did we come to this?!

Somehow, we have become employers of TWO people.

This shocking development was what we needed – we wanted – needed – to build a team of Dean plus two – but even so, this is getting scary!

Scary and exciting!

Our second employee’s name also begins with C, so from now on I will call employee one C1 and employee two C2. Just chronologically, to be clear, there is no favouritism here.

Our hiring process looks nothing like this!

We Need to Grow!

We were both very conscious that the only way to grow was to add numbers. The eventual plan being for Dean to be able to step back and come off the tools and into a more management role.

So, we need to build a team we can trust and who know each other and work well together.

Our first foray into the world of employment went unbelievably well – rather a non-event for everyone except us, if I’m honest. We managed to absorb the wage. The holidays, the sickness, the responsibility for another human being was a bit of an eye-opener, and I wrote about doing my own payroll and what I would say to someone wondering if payroll is easy to do here. C1 was on the whole an easy first employee – loyal, reliable and a decent chap. He was and still goes at a frustratingly slow pace sometimes, and that’s something we need to work on with him. But, generally all has gone well.

So now that we have two people on the books does that mean double challenges? Certainly the dynamic in the team has changed, without problems so far. Having two people working for and with him will push Dean closer to a management style, even if he doesn’t realise it.

And of course, it means finding three wages every month, not just two (Dean is on the company payroll, even though he is a director).

Employing people is not cheap. On top of their salary we also have to pay their taxes plus additional tax – just for the privilege of paying them. So an employee will always cost you more than their wage. That’s something I didn’t realise.

We considered at length just working with other self-employed people. In the end, it hasn’t worked for us – there are too few available around here and they are too expensive. We both feel that the only way for us to grow is to nurture our own talent in-house.

And so – we grow! With all the new challenges and opportunities that brings. Be careful what you wish for, they say, and we certainly wished for more!

Now we just need to make sure we have the work booked in to keep the three amigos busy!

 

 

 

 

Becoming employers Hiring your first employee HMRC Start a business

No more paydays!

For years, payroll was a mystery to me.

I knew how to make payments online, of course, but how a company actually made the action of transferring sums of cash into its employees’ accounts was shrouded in the deep unknown.

 

When we took on our first employee, Craig, in July 2016, I looked into finding someone to do the act of payroll for us. I asked around.

Our accountants wanted around £250/year for the privilege of doing it. And, of course, they strongly advised we took them up on the offer.

But others, both real people and those online, assured me it wasn’t hard at all and there was no reason why I couldn’t do it.

I watched several HMRC YouTube videos which helped explained the process.

The advice team at the Federation of Small Businesses, which we had joined a couple of months previously, were really helpful. (I recommend joining this fabulous organisation if you are considering going into business, if only for the free legal advice line alone).

And so I downloaded HMRC’s free software, Basic PAYE Tools, and got started. It really was quite straightforward. I followed simple steps and suddenly we were away.

Things that had been completely mysterious to me before suddenly started to come clear. A tax code is the bracket each person is put in so HMRC knows how to tax them. The amount of National Insurance and Tax that needs to be paid is clearly outlined to you once you have inputted those details. Payroll is paid when a finger on the hand of a person’s hand presses the ‘Pay’ key. Quelle mystique!

And so we continued. Until things got a little more complicated. Basic PAYE Tools is fabulous, but it doesn’t allow you to print payslips, and, try as I might, I could not find payslip software that worked with Apple Mac.

Then when we registered our new limited company this summer we decided Craig should be dismissed from the partnership business we had previously run, and be immediately hired by the limited company. In an attempt to tidy up the payment process, I set up payroll on Xero, the online accounting system we started to use round about October last year.

It took me some time to get used to Xero but once I did, I found it superb – slick and straightforward. Unfortunately, the payroll section was not quite so clear. Without realising, I made a mistake that meant that Craig’s earnings from the previous financial year were added to his current earnings for this year, and on our October pay day he was taxed heavily.

It was time to let the experts take over!

Our new accountant, Mark, recommended a payroll firm and I made contact with them. Through several long conversations – the one thing you realise is that tax is a complicated subject and even the experts can need to take their time to ensure they have fully understood it – things eventually became clear.

Nothing of course moves quickly in the world of tax and HMRC. For a new accountant to deal with your affairs HMRC needs to send you an authorisation code. You then give it to the new agent and HMRC will then recognise them. It’s all standard security practice, of course, but it doesn’t half take forever when you are anxiously waiting to hear that everything will be restored with the next payday. Craig had taken the disaster pretty well but I knew his patience would not extend into a second month.

The authorisation code finally arrived two days before payday and the new accountants were able to send me proper payslips. As I printed them out, it felt like we were once again moving up another step into the world of running a successful business.

So am I glad I decided to do our own payroll?

Yes, I am glad that I took the decision to do my own payroll – at least for a short time.

Craig, of course, may not agree with this because I know his month was a stressful one (so was mine, but differently!)

In hindsight, I enjoyed doing payroll but I am glad and relieved to have passed the responsibility on. I am so glad I did it for just over a year, because now I understand the process enough to go forward and it will help me deal with any potential future issues.

But, being very honest, handing over is a relief. No more pay day scrambles, and no more panics over getting things wrong!

One thing to remember is as an employer you are expected to be almost super human and never to get anything wrong. Employees and their family and friends have a remarkable ability to forget that employers, especially start up business owners, are people just like them, on a huge journey of learning and discovery.

The responsibility of funding someone’s life every month is a big one, and definitely, DEFINITELY not for the faint-hearted.

 

 

 

 

 

Becoming employers Business success Change your life Hiring your first employee HMRC Make money online Personal fulfillment Positive action Register a business Sole trader Sole trader vs Limited company Start a business

I’ve done it!

Today was, truly, momentous!

I received confirmation from HMRC – Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, no less – that my businesses are officially incorporated as Limited companies.

My online e-commerce business and my lil baby marketing company officially exist!

Because of the costs involved in running a limited company, I will actually put them into dormant mode, as soon as the paperwork arrives from HMRC (I’ve been told I can do that and I sure hope I can).

Then I’ll continue to run them both as a sole trader, until I earn enough to warrant having an accountant and doing all the regular accountancy shenanigans that a limited company would require. But at least the names will be registered.

So exciting to receive the Certificate by email, and quite emotional too… 🙂

Plus…

Our renovation business has a second employee!

The wonderful A has joined us, initially for 2 hours a week to do the paperwork, filing receipts, completing jobs and so on.

Actually it’s a role that I think will start basic but grow.

A is a formidable character who won’t be afraid to demand receipts/accounts/details from D and I – and we’ll be scared enough of her to make sure we deliver them. Just who we need to move our business forward.

I felt quite proud as I sat with her today and went through our systems. We really do have the foundations right. My very basic spreadsheets all make sense and even my colour coding didn’t look too frivolous. Now we just need to continue putting the bricks into the walls in the right order and keep building this baby 🙂

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