Contemporary start-up businesses run “lean and mean” using technology and freelancers to build a business. New businesses hire fewer employees than their counterparts from 2007 to 2009. Financing limitations and a new perspective about risk since the Great Recession fuels new attitudes about the best way to grow a business while keeping staff levels at low levels as a cost-effective alternative to hiring full-timers.

New business owners face the challenge of growing a business with limited funds available. While there are many expenses that relate directly to the health of the business, none are more crucial or capital intensive than human resource requirements. For this reason, it is no surprise that savvy entrepreneurs choose creative and cost-effective ways to address this large expense. Virtual assistants, contract workers, freelancers and temporary employees are often hired instead of adding permanent employees that typically represent a much larger overhead expense comparatively.

Below are some tips for new business owners seeking success while keeping employee-related expenses to a minimum.

1. Use virtual assistants.

Virtual assistants offer one of the “best-kept” secrets for entrepreneurs. One of the most difficult environments that business owners must navigate is juggling too many necessary tasks without the personnel support required. This is a common problem that can often ruin the resolve of overworked business owners who try to do everything by themselves.

Virtual assistants can be used for help with many tasks. They work remotely from their home which means you don’t have to expand your office and buy furniture and computers for them. From using a virtual bookkeeper to delegating other responsibilities such as email follow-up and social media management, virtual assistants can do almost anything an employee can do without the same legal obligations and associated employee expenses.

2. Hire contract or temporary employees.

Contract or temporary employees offer another resource that can be used by entrepreneurs seeking some relief from their long “to do” list that is no longer manageable. Temporary service companies offer many human resource services that include recruiting and training in some cases. Surprisingly, you can hire all levels of expertise from seasoned retirees for higher-level tasks to customer service representatives with little or no experience.

Many temporary help agencies also offer a service that allows an employer the opportunity to “try out” a temporary employee before hiring them. Temporary employees can sometimes create legal problems, so consulting with an attorney before hiring one is a good idea.

3. Focus on attitude and raw intelligence when hiring.

Small businesses should focus on hiring key employees who are flexible and capable of learning new skills easily. Hiring employees with the right attitude and a willingness to take initiative and run with it will solve a lot of problems. It is always important to remember that you can teach skill sets, but you can’t teach intelligence and attitude.

A team of bright problem-solvers can be utilized in brainstorming sessions to help manage ongoing challenges. It’s important to involve key employees who are likely to have some insights into the problem. Ideas can be read aloud and voted on by the group.


There is no longer any logical reason for not building your company due to a reluctance to take on the massive expense of hiring full-time employees. Options abound for obtaining the talent you need without paying an employee 40-hours a week when you only need them for 10 hours. While the Great Recession was painful, it forced businesses to come up with creative solutions to achieve success. Outsourcing efforts to virtual assistants and the hiring of temporary and contract employees allows entrepreneurs to hire as necessary at a fraction of what it would cost to hire full-time employees to fulfill every corporate role.


Author Bio:  Jeremy is a tech and business writer from Simi Valley, CA. He’s worked for Adobe, Google, and himself. He lives for success stories, and hopes to be one someday.