I am a solopreneur, wearing every hat from CEO and marketing director to shipping specialist and social media strategist. I spend more hours working in my business than on my business, which I fear may inhibit its growth. When is it time to bring in part-time or contract staff?

Alison O'Brien jwalking designs


Let's start by identifying the three most common types of tasks: core, support and administrative. Core tasks are those activities you created for your business to perform for customers; in other words, the functions that spurred you to start your business. These are the high-passion tasks that keep you up at night pondering how you will perform them so as to delight your customers. These are also the tasks that are used to build your reputation in the field.

Support tasks are those activities that exist to, well, support your core activities. This can also be described as a cocoon of sorts to make sure core activities are executed flawlessly and meet legal and business requirements. These activities are numerous and include basic accounting/bookkeeping tasks, understanding customers and how to sell to them, forecasting financial activities, quality control for products and services, customer service and research and development.

Finally, administrative tasks include activities such as paperwork creation and filing, organizing resources and planning both short- and long-term activities to ensure your maximum efficiency and effectiveness to maintain a customer focus.

A rough rule of thumb is that if you aren't able to get to your core tasks for a whole day, or a day and a half, you probably need some part-time help in the support and administrative task areas. A great place to look for part-time assistance is at schools that have graduate and undergraduate programs in business. You are likely to find students that have established their own small businesses or are willing to work through internships.

About the author

Mick Sheppeck is a professor of management at the University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business.