If you’re currently a freelance publicist, or running a small boutique PR firm of one, then you’re no stranger to the balancing act; on any given day you may be an office manager, messenger, accountant, gift bag packer, not to mention a visionary, strategic advisor, and of course, publicist.
There comes a point for most small PR businesses where one person can no longer do it all, or even most of it. The precarious balancing act is on the verge of utter collapse. Signs include making rookie mistakes, missing out on time sensitive new business opportunities because you already have a full lid – and wanting nothing more than to go home, hide under the covers and watch old re-runs of Friends, dreaming of simpler times.
Below are a few situations you will likely encounter as a boutique PR agency owner that are generally a sign that it’s time to hire some help.
Taking on a new client sends you into a panic
Do you want your business to grow, but the actual idea of bringing another account into your daily workload makes your head explode? You know business can’t become stagnant, but you also know you don’t have the time to completely handle all the tasks of a new client all on your own. While hiring someone is an expense, if you hire wisely you are making an investment in your business. A new hire, whether it be a freelancer or full-time, alleviates some of your workload while actually helping to make you money.
Inquiries are coming in from new industries
If your company’s experience is mostly in the field of fashion but a fantastic new fitness brand approaches you, you might want to look into hiring someone with subject matter experience in that field to assist on the account. A contractor will already have contacts set up for quick wins, and their experience and perspective will provide valuable insight and feedback on strategies and creative pitch angles. When your agency is equipped to take on new business in different fields you can reap the benefits of growth and expansion more easily.
You’re feeling pretty much, honestly, really just…Over.It.
If you are finding that you spend an inordinate amount of time on exhausting but necessary work (list building and reports, I’m looking at you) and less time on growing your business, developing innovating campaign ideas and pitching smart, strategic stories, it might be time to outsource some of those tedious tasks. While PR and business ownership aren’t always glamorous, your day shouldn’t get bogged down with the admin work and leave you no time to work on the things you love. You started working in PR for a reason and it likely was for the more creative aspect, not because you love spending full days copying and pasting metrics into client reports. Letting someone else handle the recurring tasks, bookkeeping and other admin level work may reinvigorate your enthusiasm which will keep you productive and on top of your game.
You’re making money, but have no time to spend it!
There comes a (wonderful!) point in running your PR firm where you find you’re not only doing what you love, but you’re also making a profit! You finally start planning that weekend spa getaway…but then realize that to do everything you need to do to make that money, you don’t have a second to spare. While making money doing what you love is an incredible joy, you need time to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Make sure you avoid burnout by bringing on someone to help during busy times and start thinking about ensuring your business can function without your full-time participation.
You want to expand into a new region
If you’re based in one city but looking to set up a presence in another, there’s no way to feasibly be in two places at once unless you bring someone on who is on the ground in your target area. Hiring someone established in a particular market makes it much easier to integrate your business into the local goings-on. For example, if you’re based in NYC but looking to develop strong relationships with LA celebrity stylists for a client, hiring someone talented who is already based in LA saves you the time and money of flying across the country while allowing you to offer another valuable service to clients.
It is incredibly hard to pull yourself out of overwhelm, so if your finding yourself on the verge, do future you a favor and take a step back from your never-ending to-do list and prioritize one thing; getting help. The decision to hire, be it a college intern, occasional freelancer, or full-time employee is not easy. For it to work, you’ll need financial clarity and flexibility, you’ll need a recruiting and interview process that attracts top talent. You’ll need to get honest about what tasks you really need to be doing, and where you can let up a bit of control. Growing your team is an investment, not only of money but also of time to train and time to manage your new brood.
If signs are pointing to it, it’s time to move from thinking of yourself as an independent contractor or freelance publicist, and to start putting on a brand new hat – that of CEO. Good luck!