My company does both consulting and products. In the past, I have been able to hire sub-contractors on an as-needed (per project) basis when my workload increased (have large client projects, launching a new product etc.). I also handle a lot of the creative/production work myself. Now I want to grow my company and build a small team of full-time employees. My dream is to build a cohesive, collaborative team that produces amazing work together. Contractors work out great for short bursts of work, but not ideal for a longterm growth strategy. My dilemma: I don't know that I have the consistent revenue to support FT salaries quite yet. My products alone bring in barely enough to pay my own (small) salary. My consulting work has lots of ups and downs and doesn't have a predictable revenue stream. I think the answer is to refine my marketing strategy to make my consulting work more predictable (develop the flywheel that brings new clients in consistently). I also need to work on growing the product income. But it's hard (and slow) doing these things without a team around me. So it's a chicken or the egg question. I've been wrestling with this hurdle for a couple years now, thinking at some point the revenue/predictability issue will be resolved, signaling it's time to hire and grow. But maybe I'll never truly be "ready" to hire until after it's done? What am I missing? Would I benefit from speaking with a business coach (and what specific type of coach)? Are there any books you'd recommend? I think I'm going to give E-Myth a 2nd read soon...
E-Myth offers a good model for businesses that fit the "machine" metaphor well, but does not work as well for businesses that are better described by a "people over process" organic metaphor. For the latter kind of business, even if you can afford it, the wrong first hire is far worse than no hire. E-Myth is dangerously biased towards highly legible business models where the machine can be automated using a mix of process and training for interchangeable people. If you are building a business model that needs unique rather than interchangeable people at this stage of growth, E-Myth is the wrong model for you.
Date before marriage, and make sure the person is The One. Then consider finances.
Your "fear" is not something to just get over. It is a valid signal that you should pay attention to. If your revenue volatility is so high that you cannot smooth it out with savings/credit to pay an employee, perhaps you should not hire one. It's a huge level-up in terms of complexity of running the business.
Beyond this, there are no general answers. All "machine" businesses (a la E-Myth) are alike, but every non-machine business is non-machine-like in its own unique way.