For many entrepreneurs, being the boss of a startup is easier than being the boss of a business that is growing beyond the startup phase. Small-business owners need to be prepared emotionally, psychologically, and financially to add and manage staff members, said Donna Lubrano, a new-business development consultant in Boston.
If you’ve been “wearing all the hats in the organization, [you] may have trouble letting go of some of the tasks,” Lubrano said in a phone interview, “even if [you] no longer have time or desire to do the job.”
Other problems occur in family businesses that add people from outside the core of family and friends who have worked together for years.
“Every person whom you hire with every new set of skills and expertise is going to impact that culture and move it further away from that family-run business,” Lubrano said. Owners need to “understand and accept the fact that that culture is going to shift.”
Do You Need to Add Staff Members?
According to Lubrano, you will know your company needs more people when:
- You are losing money because you cannot meet deadlines
- You cannot further develop your product or service with the staffing you have
- Members of your existing staff are bailing because they are overworked and underpaid
- At least 50 percent of your expertise is vested in interns, who will eventually leave
- You’re burned out from juggling too many roles
- The industry is outpacing your innovation and your competitors are roaring ahead
Sometimes the boss has a gut feeling, a sense that he’s overwhelmed by what’s happening, and that is also a sign that he needs to change the organization’s direction and staffing.
Bringing on Staff Members
If your existing staff members are putting in long hours, chances are they will welcome new hires—but there may also be jealousy and jockeying for position. Be sure you treat everyone fairly. Andi Gray, president of Strategy Leaders Inc. in Chappaqua, N.Y., wrote that holding team meetings before new hires come aboard will help alleviate problems in the first few weeks.
Gray gave more tips on bringing in new hires in her article, “Bringing New Employees on Board.”1
“Ask for someone to volunteer as a mentor, to introduce the new person around. Define roles and responsibilities for supervision. Make it clear that everyone’s expected to be on their best behavior, and that everyone is responsible for the success of this new person.”
Meanwhile, don’t neglect the existing staff members. Existing employees need your attention for the same reasons that new hires do. Find professional organizations that run educational events. Send members of your staff.
“Too often in small business, the mindset is about scarcity and what can you get out of the employees,” Lubrano said. “Change the mindset and invest in the people you believe to be key players in the growth of your organization.”
Lubrano added that business owners need to say, “Even though I need to have [staff members] work at full capacity, I’m not going to deplete them; I’m going to keep them moving forward and invest in them.”
By continuing to add to your staff members’ training, education, and networking opportunities, you will leverage their talents more fully and continue to add to their mastery.
To increase payroll, you need to do some planning. It may be that overtime pay for nonexempt employees—and dinners and taxis for exempt employees who work late—are eating up a sizable amount of capital that could be diverted to pay new staff members.
Start looking for microlending sources. Microfinanciers used to be focused exclusively on business startups in developing countries. Now, small-business owners in the United States are benefiting from lenders who look for passion and commitment, not just great business plans.
Additionally, talk to a financial advisor, accountant, or lending specialist at The Small Business Authority who can help you decide whether applying for a U.S. Small Business Administration loan (minimum of $50,000), or perhaps taking an advance on your credit-card sales, would bolster your payroll.
In the final analysis, the money part is pretty straightforward. It’s the interaction of different personality types that might present challenges to entrepreneurs as they start to grow their companies.
“Owning a business is an emotionally and psychologically charged endeavor,” Lubrano said.
Delegating decision-making to others is a huge step that can be difficult for small-business owners. But if your company is ready for growth, you might want to consider taking that step.
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