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Q.Small contractors who do everything themselves often have trouble deciding which responsibilities to delegate first — bookkeeping, sales, estimating, field production, etc. What advice can you give to someone making a first hire?

A. "Bookkeeping is the easiest to delegate. Next is sales, although you have to choose between teaching remodeling to a salesperson or teaching sales to a remodeler. I would go with the salesperson. Design sense is key — if they’re good at that, sales will happen in spite of themselves."

— Mike Weiss, Jr.

"If you’re running jobs or actually doing the work, and if you want to grow, the most important hire is an office manager, because you can’t do both."

— Glenn Farrell

"The lead carpenter concept has the potential to provide the small contractor with resources for reducing the frustration and stress so prevalent within the production phase of a project. Using lead carpenters also leaves the company owner with more time to attend to the overall daily management of the company."

— Bill Gaver

"Try a part-timer or moonlighter, who will not be dependent on your having full-time work."

— Chuck Green

"Our workload exceeded my abilities, so our first hires were more production people. A skilled bookkeeper would be the second choice — a good numbers person can make you money.

Delegate the things you enjoy least or that are the most frustrating and generate the least return for your time. For my wife and me, the first thing to go was payroll.

The few hundred dollars we spend each year has been a small price to pay to rid ourselves of the frustration, time, and penalties (for missed or late payments) that we previously endured."

— Bill Medina

"I run a profit-and-loss budget for the new position to clarify how it will pay for itself."

— Paul Eldrenkamp

"Hiring and delegating are two different things. You can hire, but if you don’t learn to empower your employees, they will fail at the job."

— Peter Feinmann