#271: Hiring Your Kids to Help You in Your Business, with Linsey Knerl

I often encourage my coaching clients to adopt a “Who Not How” mindset.

That means accepting that you’re not necessarily the best person to handle every single role in your business.

So rather than trying to figure out how to perform every single task really well, you’re much better off finding other people (“whos”) that can help you.

In today’s podcast episode, I’m joined by someone who’s taken this concept to a new level.

Not only is she getting all kinds of help from other whos, but these whos happen to be her children.

Linsey Knerl is a freelance writer and mom of six children. And over the past several years, she’s been paying her kids to help her run and grow her freelance business, doing legitimate and valuable work.

As a father of two, I found this discussion fascinating.

The notes that follow are a very basic, unedited summary of the show. There’s a lot more detail in the audio version. You can listen to the show using the audio player below. Or you can subscribe in iTunes to get this show delivered straight to the Podcasts app on your smartphone, tablet or iPod.


NOTE: The podcast audio and show notes for this episode (and all episodes) are provided for general information purposes only. They do NOT constitute legal or financial advice, and we make no warranties about the completeness, reliability or accuracy of this information. 

Consult with an accountant or other financial professional before making any financial decisions or taking any actions regarding your taxes or personal/business finances.

Tell us about yourself and your business 

Linsey creates content for brands that want to tell their stories in a journalistic way.

She got started 13 years ago and worked her way into the industry through blogging and magazine writing.

How are you able to balance parenting six children with running your business? 

Linsey rents an office to have a quiet place to work when she really needs to focus. She does some admin work from home, such as answering emails.

Her husband also works in her business, doing research and admin.

Part of the kids’ upbringing has been to have them help with the family business.

One of the unique things you’ve done is to hire your children for different tasks. How did that idea get started? 

The idea came out of desperation. Linsey was pregnant for the fourth time, with looming work deadlines. She needed some photography done, so she gave a camera and instructions to her daughter.

Her daughter’s pictures were amazing—and so she did the photography for the business for a long time. It relieved Linsey of a work burden and allowed her daughter to make some money.

It was a big “aha” moment.

Where did things go from there?

At the time, Linsey was doing reviews of different technology and educational materials, so she used her kids as a mini-focus group. Their input and feedback gave Linsey fertile ground for new ideas and angles.

She also employs some of the older kids in research and brainstorming.

For example, when she had to write a white paper on 3D printing, she had her teenager find resources and look for new trends.

How old are your kids when they start helping out?

Usually, by the age of 10 or 12, they’re able to take on some tasks.

Linsey now has three teenagers who all work in the business.

How has this arrangement helped your kids (aside from monetary compensation)?

It’s a stereotype that teenagers are embarrassed by their parents. But it’s hard to be embarrassed when you’re involved in their business.

Linsey has broadened their horizons by bringing them to industry conferences.

When her daughter applied for a marketing job, most of her resume consisted of things she learned in the business. Employers like self-starters and were impressed that she’d acquired so many skills so early.

The experience also helps her kids develop soft skills, such as curiosity, creativity, problem-solving, critical thinking, and resourcefulness.

How do you decide what work to give them?

Whenever Linsey has a new project that can be chunked out, she considers what she can give to her VA and what she can give to her kids—such as research, reviewing final deliverables, organizing files, and updating technology.

She’ll set up a Google doc with a task description and deadline. The kids check their email every day for school and will see the work assignment there.

In delegating tasks, Linsey considers the gifts and abilities of each child. Some may be good at coding. Some may be good at writing. Some may be good at photography or podcast editing.

How do you decide what to pay them? 

Linsey pays them a little more than they would make out in the community.

Once they start performing at the level of a VA, she pays them more.

Whatever you pay has to be reasonable; otherwise it may raise red flags on your taxes.

She lets her kids know upfront what they will be paid.

The kids aren’t paid allowances. Instead, they work a certain number of hours to help cover household expenses (usually an hour or two a week) and then get to keep anything extra.

What if your kids don’t complete the task or don’t complete it to your standards?

Linsey will check in with them well before the due date to make sure they’re managing their time well.

If work is of poor quality, typically something else is going on.

You need to allow for training and give them time to develop their skills.

Are there are tax advantages to hiring your children? 

If you pay anyone, it’s an expense for your business, which you can claim.

If you’re a sole proprietor, you can hire a family member until they reach a certain age without having to take out payroll taxes.

Hiring a family member also comes with a lot less paperwork.

However, every country, state and local jurisdiction has different rules. Be sure to check with your accountant.

Do you have any advice for writers that might consider hiring their own kids? 

If you’re already outsourcing to a VA, think about what tasks you could shift to your kids.

Hiring your kids takes work, especially at the outset. They need to be trained, just like anyone else.

But it can have real benefits for your business, kids and family.

Where can listeners learn more about you? 

Linsey Knerl’s website: https://www.linseyknerl.com

You can also find Linsey on Twitter: https://twitter.com/lknerl

Linsey is also the author of Homeschool Hacks: How to Give Your Kids a Great Education Without Losing Your Job or Your Mind.



By the way… whenever you’re ready, here are 3 ways I can help you grow your freelance business:

1. Grab a free copy of my book.

It’s called Earn More in Less Time: The Proven Mindset, Strategies and Actions to Prosper as a Freelance Writer. The title says it all. 😉 — Click Here

2. Join my implementation program and be a case study.

I’m putting together a new implementation group this month. If you’re earning $5k+/month (or the part-time equivalent) from your freelance business … and you’d like to grow your income quickly with better clients … just email me at [email protected]

3. Work with me privately.

If you’re a 6-figure writer who’s trying to earn more in less time, with less stress, I might be able to help you get there faster than you think. Just email me at [email protected] and put “Breakthrough” in the subject line, and I’ll get back to you with more details.