Most of today's frazzled, beleaguered entrepreneurs believe an additional employee would be a huge help. Not only might you be able to stop working around the clock, but you could focus your attention on higher-level tasks like networking and growing your business.
However, simply being busy isn't enough of a reason to start collecting resumes and scheduling interviews. Building a team is a strategic decision that should be carefully planned well in advance.
From the time you declare yourself "open for business," you should be thinking about the day you'll add your first team member. This starts you on the right path, setting your business up for the day it will have a full team.
But even then, you may not know when the time is right to scale from a one-person operation to a business that offers someone an annual salary and benefits. Here are five signs it's time to expand.
You Can Write a Full Job Description
Before you place your first job ad, a helpful exercise is to actually write out a full job description that you would hand to the new employee during the onboarding process. It should be realistic and easy to understand, free of all of the jargon that can so often weigh down job descriptions these days.
The process of writing a job description will give you a feel for what a 40-hour workweek would look like for an employee. Is there enough work for eight hours, Monday through Friday? Or or would you be paying someone to essentially occupy a desk, waiting for assignments?
You're Turning Work Down
Many new business owners find that they spend most of their time treading water. This means they all too seldom get to put serious effort into moving to the next level. At some point, you'll find that you've reached full capacity, which means you can't take on new clients.
This is a problem. If you ever want to grow, you need to be able to extend that capacity. Since you're only one person, this means having someone to handle work while you're overseeing everything.
A New Employee Will Generate Money
When you think about hiring a team member, your mind probably goes straight to the cost. An annual salary is a huge commitment, taking thousands each month out of your business's earnings. But what about the money an employee will bring in?
When considering hiring someone, consider how much revenue a skilled person could bring in. A salesperson, for instance, may be able to follow up on leads and close deals that you've let fall through the cracks. This would make the investment well worth it.
You Need Specialized Skills
You may be skillful at starting and building a business, but that doesn't mean you can handle every aspect of things. A business that specializes in graphic design, for instance, can benefit from having someone on hand with more expertise in user experience.
However, it's important to know when that specialist needs to be on salary. You can easily find someone to help out on an as-needed basis, paying hourly or by the project. This will save on benefits while also avoiding that monthly salary commitment.
You're Losing Clients
One of the biggest risks to an overextended solopreneur is that customer service will suffer. If you miss deadlines or are too busy to take client calls, you'll soon find yourself dealing with complaints. If you lose even one high-paying client, it may cost you more than the salary of one employee.
While losing a client is bad, losing a client who tells others is worse. Your business's reputation is on the line. Before you overextend yourself, make sure you can keep up with the work you're committing to do. If you can't, recognize the signs before you let customers down.
Although adding an employee is a big commitment, failing to do so can hurt your growing business. Pay attention to your own workload and begin looking for the right talent before you miss out on important opportunities.