Staffing, leadership & growth

As a small business leader there are few moments that rock your world like the realization, “I need to hire some employees.” Whether this is taking on your first employee, or growing your team for the fifth time it is never an easy decision to make--weighing the benefits of that additional team member versus the cost that comes with an employee. The composition of the team surrounding you, and your role as their leader, are hallmark changes that come with advancing through the various stages of your business life cycle.

When your business was first a glimmer in your eye it was just you. The idea behind the company was your baby. The buck stopped with you, but being the only team member gave you the flexibility to do what you want and the only person you were accountable to was yourself.

Then came the time you needed to add your first staff. “I can’t get it all done!” you said, and here comes your first employee. Maybe it’s a family member, or a friend—but it’s an employee, no doubt about it. It still feels like a family and the structure of your interactions is very loose. The only rule is—we gotta get the work done.

As you continue to grow your view of everything as “mine” no longer is an effective way to govern your team. You have become the bottleneck in operations and every invoice, relationship, purchase order and decision to act is sitting on your desk awaiting your approval. It’s come time to formalize and give people real job descriptions, publically recognizing their responsibilities and where they have the freedom and accountability to drive the bus.

Finally, your organization hits the sustainability phase and there are decisions to be made. What do you want for your business? Do you want to become a CEO and push continued growth? Were you happier at a level where you could be involved in more areas of the business—even if that hampers growth? Or, can you not make a decision? In a way refusing to decide is a decision itself…but it’s not going to end up in a happy place.

What do you identify with in today’s discussion? Where is your business in this spectrum? What are you going to do to push your organization to the next phase? How are you prepared to deal with the decision that awaits you as you approach sustainability? Let’s continue this discussion in the comments below.