Left Brain Advice for the Right Brain Guy
February 16, 2012 6:50 AM   Subscribe

Business practicality filter: As a freelance designer, one man shop, what would I have to consider regarding taking on an assistant? Help my underdeveloped left brain...

I am a busy freelance designer, and have often considered taking on a design assistant. But, although there's mounds of information on the interwebs about the legal aspects of this, I kind of glaze over when trying to get through it. What are the practical considerations I should make regarding this? Taxes? "Worker's Comp?" Part time vs. full time ramifications... I know zero about these kinds of things. I don't want to add a lot of red tape to my existence... but I'd like to do it right.

Comments as directed to a middle schooler would be appropriate.
posted by ecorrocio to Work & Money (1 answer total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Don't roll your own payroll system. There's too much to think about.

Call a temping agency and find out what they can do for you. Find out what they charge for the kind of hire you're looking for. If you want to do the job search and make the hiring decision yourself (not a bad idea), ask what they will charge you for that scenario -- i.e., you actually find the talent, but they employ, pay, and do the paperwork and record-keeping.

If you can't find a temp agency to do that for you, a payroll company like paychex will do the payroll for you. They might also have guidance for you about what else you need in terms of paperwork (w-2, w-4, i-9, &c.) and maybe -- I don't know -- will do some of that work for you. Get a quote from them, too, because they might be significantly cheaper than the temp agency.

There are probably software solutions for running payroll yourself, but I'd still pick as much brain out of the temp agency and the payroll company as you can before going with software, because you definitely want to know what your legal obligations are.

I know some law firms that will set up an LLC for free as a way to get your business. Make some calls around to see if there are any employment firms that will send you a "hiring your first employee" informational package as a similar loss-leader sort of thing. I'd be surprised, but it doesn't cost you anything to ask, and if the secretary is rude because you're asking for something for free, that's too bad for her.

Finally, I'd give your local SCORE chapter a call.
posted by gauche at 7:39 AM on February 16, 2012

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