As an entrepreneur in the throes of scaling a fledgling startup, it’s easy to take a controlling attitude. After all, your business is your baby. It’s your pride and joy that you’ve taken from a napkin drawing to a revenue producing company. However, we all reach our limits. Eventually, it becomes time to hire your first employee.
7 Signs Now’s the Time
A failure to recognize the appropriate time to hire an employee can cause your business to take significant steps backwards. And while it’s never easy to make the decision to pay for someone else to handle certain aspects of your business, it’s a necessary aspect of business growth and development.
When you see the following signs, you’ll know it’s time to put that “Help Wanted” sign in the store window.
1. You’re Turning Down Work
Have you found yourself turning down work? Not work that disinterests you or isn’t worth your time, but work that pays well and perfectly aligns with your service offering. If so, this is the first sign that you need to hire. After all, by hiring employees, you could take on these missed opportunities and make money. You never know when additional opportunities will come along and it’s often too late to hire after a prospective client reaches out.
2. Missing Deadlines/Lack of Quality
Once you start hearing customer complaints, you know something needs to change. Missed deadlines or a lack of quality are signs that you’re resources are maxed out. By hiring an employee, you can speed up processes and spend more time focusing on quality, as opposed to quantity.
3. The Task Will Generate or Save Money
When considering hiring someone for a particular role, think about how they’ll contribute. “It’s been said that the only two purposes of an employee are to: 1) make money for the business, or 2) save money for the business,” successful entrepreneur Neil Patel points out. “If you have a reasonable degree of confidence that your new hire will do at least one of those two things, go for it.”
Typical activities that generate or save money include: product design and development, product marketing, customer support, and accounting (especially tax preparation).
4. Working “In” not “On” your Business
As the founder of your business, you have to act as the owner – not an employee. Unfortunately, when resources are maxed out, you generally have no choice other than to work as an employee. This means you’re answering customer service calls, picking inventory, writing web copy, and taking care of other responsibilities that keep the business operating smoothly.
While there’s nothing wrong with doing these things – and the best business owners frequently inject themselves into key processes – this isn’t where your time is best spent. You need to be working on your business, not in it. If you’re doing the latter, hire an employee so that you can step back.
5. You Have a Bigger Vision
It’s important that you always revisit your vision and goals. Are you content with where you are? Maybe you don’t need to hire anyone else. Do you want to continue growing? Chances are pretty good that you can’t do it alone.
According to Maria Contreras-Sweet, administrator of the SBA, you have to ask yourself some questions. “When faced with too much work, solopreneurs are often encouraged to hire up, but is that what you want for your business? Is it your goal to become a larger business or remain a sole proprietor? Could you farm off work to independent contractors or outsource certain functions to take some weight off your shoulders? Could you team with other businesses to complement your services?” The answers to these questions will tell you a lot.
6. You’re Getting Stale
When operational responsibilities like accounting, logistics, advertising, marketing, and sales enter the picture, it’s easy for creativity to become stifled. If it’s been weeks or months since anything creative entered the business, then something needs to change.
Creativity is the lifeblood of any young startup or company. When things become stale, you’re in trouble. It may not impact your business this year, or even the next, but it will have detrimental effects at some point in the future. Hire someone to inject some innovation into the business.
7. You Can Afford It
Is your business suddenly bringing in more revenue than you know what to do with? Even after taking a generous salary, are your business accounts growing exponentially? Don’t get greedy. You’re in a wonderful situation where you can afford to hire an employee. Do it now while it makes sense. If you wait until constraints hurts your revenues, not only will you be making less money, but you’ll also find it nearly impossible to onboard an employee.
Don’t Confuse Needs with Weakness
As entrepreneurs, we’re naturally ambitious and self-determined. Unfortunately, it’s easy to let this cloud our vision. It’s important that you don’t associate needs with weakness. The fact that you have more customer service emails than you can count, or not enough hands to produce your products, doesn’t mean you’re weak. It simply means your business is growing and the only way to sustain this growth is by hiring an employee…or two or three.
It’s time to be honest with yourself. Do you recognize any of these signs and symptoms? If so, you need to make a move. Hiring your first employee could be the best decision you ever make.
Anna Johansson is the founder and CEO of Johansson Consulting where she works with businesses to create marketing and PR campaigns.