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Hire or Train: What’s in the Budget? | Mary Biever | One Writing Mother

Hire or Train: What’s in the Budget?

This post is by Nick Carter, author of Unfunded: From Bootstrap to Blue Chip Without the Fuel of Round-A Capital. This is the story behind the story, untold tid-bits that didn’t make the book’s final cut.

Of all the unknowns in business, there are two things you can know for sure: your business needs technology, and technology costs money. It does. It costs a lot of money, in fact. I am learning more and more each day just how expensive technology can be. But it’s not the zeros and ones that cost money. It’s not the silicon chips, the powder-coated metal boxes, the buttons, the switches, or the plasma screen displays. It’s the knowledge that costs the most.

I learned early on that you cannot buy Photoshop and suddenly know how to design. In fact, I tell our customers all the time that just buying our CRM software doesn’t make you any better at selling. The real power in technology is in knowing how to use it. But that know-how comes at a cost. You can get training, and that costs money. You can forego training and just hire someone else to do it, and that costs money. Or you can buckle down, resolve not to spend a dime, and teach yourself how to do it. That, of course, costs time. You know what they say about time, don’t you. Time is money.

Actually, that last little maxim is a valuable tidbit when you’re considering whether to hire or train. There are two basic options for filling technology knowledge gaps on your staff: hire or train. And, at first glance, training seems cheaper. It seems so obvious, in fact, that a few hundred dollars on training is cheaper than hiring someone (either contract or full-time) that you may wonder what more I have to write about. Well, listen up.

Getting trained doesn’t just cost a few hundred dollars for a class. It also costs time. No, not just the time in the class either. If you become trained on a new technology then you become obligated to your business to enact that training. Training on a new process, a new program, a new platform, or any form of new technology means you are now the go-to person for that technology. Whatever it is this technology is expected to deliver for your business, you are now solely responsible to execute. So the question becomes: can you afford to be that person?

The simple fact is that technology never stops. If you’re learning a program’s current release today, you’ll be learning the next upgrade in a year or less. Learning never ends. Last August, I finally made the decision to hire an in-house technician. His job was not only to know how to do what I did not and to do it, but his job is also to continue knowing. He has the responsibility to continue learning, to stay abreast of new technologies, and to keep our company forging ahead. Can you do that job yourself? Maybe. But for how long, and at what cost?

To read more about Nick Carter’s framework for startups, visit www.gounfunded.com/unfunded-book/.

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