What is May Day In Entrepreneurland?

May 1, 2015, 4:22 PM  |  Business

An ancient Western European folk celebration featuring young ladies dancing around an erect…pole?
International Worker’s Day, a celebration of working classes and labourers, anarchists, socialists, and communists?
The international distress signal, based on the French expression, “m’aidez”…

May Day, the first day of May, marks a new beginning for many business owners. Your taxes should be filed, spring really ought to be here, and the first camping long weekend is on its way. Not that you take time off anymore (we’ll be having a talk about that soon).

You’ve had your first fiscal quarter, if your business operates on a standard calendar, and if you’re like a lot of entrepreneurs, it was a doozy. You worked your butt off. You took on new customers, you developed new products, you built, you built, and you built. You grew so much, so rapidly, that you may have crashed – hard – in April.

The flipside of the entrepreneurial nightmare known as I Don’t Have Any Customers is that other, lesser-known, entrepreneurial nightmare:

I’m So Freaking Busy That I Want to Lie Down in The Tall Grass and Hide.

Serene woman relaxing outdoor in fresh grass

“You’re trying to lift your head.” Gazette stock image

You’ve had April to recover. You’re trying to lift your head. It’s May Day, and you don’t know what to do next.

You could throw it all out the window and join the May Day pole dancers around that tall, tall pole. (See video above.)

You could stop everything you’re doing, get a*shudder* job… and celebrate with the labourers down at Grandview Park this Friday. (It actually looks like a pretty good time, even if you are a dirty capitalist pig.)

Or you could realize that you need help, and ask for it – in French:



“Most kinds of help cost money.” Gazette stock image

To help you celebrate this fine, widely and incredibly differently celebrated non-holiday, here are your Top 5 Objections Against Asking For Help, why you’re wrong, and what you need to do next:

1. “I can’t afford it.”

Most kinds of help cost money. Your cash flow is tight. You would like to have 3, 6, or 12 months’ of someone’s potential income banked before you hire them because you don’t want to make promises to someone in case your proverbial house falls in.

This is a very logical, rational response. But you are a business owner. You know that business is not logical or rational. It makes no sense sometimes. Regardless, there is a rational, business reason to hire someone else: They cost less than you do.

They really do. If you are hiring an administrator, bookkeeper, retail staff member, balloon-carrier, housekeeper*, or any other kind of help, they cost less than you do. Your time is not, despite what you believe, free. Your time costs a lot.

Example 1: You sell widgets or services. You spend 10 hours producing that widget or service. You charge your customer $1,000 for said widget or service. Your time therefore costs $100 per hour. You need admin help. You are very bad at administration. You will take 7 hours to complete an administration task that a professional would take 45 minutes to complete. Cost if you do it: $700. Cost if a professional administrator does it: $40-$50. You are losing money when you do this task.

Example 2: You want a website, and social media presence. You heard from a buddy that you could probably make your own website on WordPress or Squarespace or whatever. You could totally learn that and it would cost you no money. And social media is super easy – you’re on Facebook all the time with your friends, how hard could it be?


It will cost you, as per Example 1, $100 per hour. PLUS, every hour you spend doing this is another hour you are spending not doing the thing in your business that makes your business great.

You will do a terrible job, because you are not a web designer, graphic designer, social media guru, or marketing specialist. There is a reason why people go to school to learn how to do this stuff – it’s actually not that easy.

Tangent about Social Media: Social media is the equivalent of running out into the streets with a big sign, YELLING about your business. It is advertising but better, deeper, and more immediate. Are you really going to treat that as a low-value piece of your operation, that for some reason you are going to spend your $100 per hour rate on? Okay, back to your regular programming.

If you don’t feel good about hiring someone; if you don’t have their year’s salary banked – tell them. Tell them what you can afford and what you can promise. No you won’t look like an idiot. You’ll be honest, and you’ll look like you have integrity. People will want to work for you.

Weird, but true.

HOT TIP: There are people with mad skills who will work on a contract basis to fill the gaps in your business. There are virtual administrators, freelance marketing companies, and one-off websites such as Fiverr and Elance where you can post projects for others to bid on. Outsource those jobs you don’t have the time or expertise to do well. Go get yourself some inexpensive, remote help, with no strings attached.


 2. “I don’t have time to train somebody.”

Good. Hire a professional who already knows how to do it better than you do.

Oh, what you do is special and requires training? Then you better hire someone smart who learns on the fly.


No, stop talking. NEXT.


3. “What if I train someone and they leave me?”

What if the moon falls from the sky? What if that earthquake everyone’s been talking about for years actually hits Vancouver in your lifetime? What if you jaywalk to the pub and get hit by a runaway bread truck?

You can’t prepare for every possible outcome. Stop being so freaking cautious – you’re an entrepreneur, a risk-taker by nature.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one…

  • CFO to CEO: “What if we train them and they leave?”
  • CEO:What if we don’t, and they stay?”

Be good to your staff. Treat them well, be honest, pay them as much as you can afford, and they generally won’t leave you. If you do all those things and they leave you because they have better opportunities that you can’t match – well, they won’t leave you high and dry.

Unless they’re total assholes, in which case, you are better off without them, and you need to learn how to hire people.


 4. “I don’t know how to hire people.”

Write a list of all the things that need doing. Beside it write all the skills needed to do that job.

Ask people you know if they can connect you with a skilled individual they know well. Post a job on your website. Put an ad on Craigslist or Kijiji

Very few people are excellent at interviewing and hiring. Some people are great. There are companies (like Project House) who can help you develop a hiring process and even teach you how to deal with all the paperwork and whatnot that comes with running a team.


 5. “I have no idea how to do payroll.”

There are great companies that will process your entire payroll system for you. All you have to do is give them less money than it would cost for you to learn and implement it yourself.

Some ideas: Payworks, Ceridian, ADP…. Get a referral from your accountant/bookkeeper to determine what works best for you.

Now, you’re thinking that you will definitely do this, as soon as you get these seventeen items on your list completed, and all your ducks in a row. Stop. Do it now.

If you could accomplish all that in short order, you wouldn’t need help. Go ask for help. Be honest about how messy you are. These people don’t care – in fact, they wouldn’t have the opportunity to work with you if you weren’t all messed up. Your ego isn’t building your business. Let it go, get the help you need, and get out of your nightmare.

Then go watch the kids in New Westminster dance around May poles, pretend you’re not a capitalist pig at Grandview Park, and crack a beer when you go camping.

*Hire a housekeeper. You will thank me.


By Julia Chung


Julia Chung is outsourcing madly and every time she does it her business improves. Join the party.

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