When to hire additional staff for your growing business

6 min read
Paul Teitelman

Many small business owners are reluctant to hire new people and create new positions. That’s understandable, as 62% of small business owners report having made a wrong hire. The stakes seem to be greater when hiring for a growing company.

Fit and the chemistry are crucial on a small staff. The team you build today will set the tone for your company culture tomorrow.

Here are a few situations that will tell you that now is the time to add more help.

It’s time to hire staff when …

The cost of hiring a new team member keeps many business owners from placing an help wanted ad. Here’s how to tell when you really must hire.

  1. You’re no longer doing what you love.
  2. Your customer service is suffering.
  3. You’re turning down new business and new customers.
  4. You’ve just landed a major contract or a big customer.
  5. Your outsourcing costs are adding up.

Once you’ve read through the list of conditions that demand more help, keep reading for tips on where to find reliable employees.

1. You’re no longer doing what you love

You probably started your own business because you were really good at something. You were so passionate about it that you wanted to make this your life’s work. So you took the plunge and went into business for yourself.

Growing Business Baker Seen Through Shop Window

However, the business side of running your own business gets in the way of the pursuit and perfection of your passion. A chef might open their own restaurant and suddenly find all of their time is spent managing suppliers and figuring out how to hire employees.

If your dream business is starting to feel more like a “job,” it might be time to offload some of your tasks.

This will allow you to focus on the reason you started this company in the first place. To use the chef example again, consider hiring a bookkeeper so you can spend more time in the kitchen.

Related: Everything you need to know about working capital

2. Your customer service is suffering

This could be missed deadlines or deliverables, a loss of sales, or even lost customers. These might not simply be natural growing pains for a growing business. They could be a sign that you have a problem.

Your employees might be overstretched and overwhelmed.

They’re not able to give each customer the individual time and attention required to wow them. If you’re even wondering if you’re asking too much from your employees, the odds are pretty good that you are.

Staff at most startups or growing businesses usually arrives with a can-do and entrepreneurial attitude. They’re excited to be part of building something. However, it’s too easy to push this “keener” attitude to the point where you’re actually hurting your business. Just because they’re not asking for help doesn’t mean they don’t need it.

3. You’re turning down new business and new customers

The first time that you find yourself turning away business because you’re too busy, you might joke about what a blessing and a curse it is. However, the second time you have to do it, it’s no laughing matter.

Having to regularly turn down business could mean you’re busy, not productive. Failing to hire to meet this new demand could cost you a valuable opportunity to grow.

Related: What is project management (plus 6 great tools to do it)

4. You’ve just landed a major contract or a big customer

Growing Business Videography Assistant on Set

Huzzah! You won the big RFP or closed the big deal! The last thing you want is this new client — or any of your existing clients — to experience the customer service drop-off we mentioned earlier.

Your next move should be one of two things:

  • Bring in someone new with specialized skills to focus on this client exclusively
  • Move a tenured employee over to focus on this client, while bringing in someone new to handle their previous workload

Landing that big client is often a game-changer that instantly elevates your growing business by adding the new client’s logo to your portfolio and your website. So, do everything possible to ensure they’re kept happy at all times.

5. Your outsourcing costs are adding up

It’s a question as old as time. “Do I build a team, or buy a team?”

The pendulum starts to swing towards “build” when you notice that your billable hours for outsourced help gets anywhere near the full-time salary range.

However, new employees come with new costs. You’re no longer just paying for their time worked. You’re now paying for their taxes, equipment, benefits and vacation.

The benefit of dedicated employees

But of course, there are clear benefits to building your own team of experts. First of all, there is what’s called the 4x rule.

Any project you complete with an outsourced team is going to take four times as long as an in-house team.

This is because of communication lags, competing schedules and the fact that you might not be your freelancer’s No. 1 priority among multiple clients.

Whereas, your in-house team would be solely focused on you, which ensures things progress faster and more efficiently.

How to hire employees for a growing business

Growing Business Woman Interviewer

We could fill an entire blog post with hiring tips alone. However, in the small business space, leveraging your existing staff’s network of friends and coworkers is likely going to get you the best candidates for your new position.

This is especially true in a specialized space. Salesmen know lots of other salesmen, coders know lots of other coders and so on.

This could also be time to offer one of your trusted freelancers a full-time position. If they already have an idea of your company and your clients, this can really shorten your training process. Many freelancers start working for you with the hopes that it can turn into a full-time job someday, so this should be an easy sell.

Always be mindful of how important fit is in a small company or workspace.
It might be best to hire someone with the right attitude and train them after the fact, versus hiring someone with all the skills who doesn’t quite fit in.

Closing thoughts

If you’re reading this post, you’re probably feeling one of the pain points above. You might feel overstretched yourself, or you’re worried about your staff being spread too thin. Or maybe you’ve just landed a big new account and want to ensure you have the capacity and resources to keep them happy.

Learning where to find employees and creating new positions can be daunting at first. However, if you do it the right way and at the right time, you will wonder what took you so long to do it.

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