Dear Coach Joan,
I left the corporate world 3 years ago to run my own consultancy in the publishing world. I felt that with fifteen years of experience, half of that in management, and a good network of colleagues and clients I could go out on my own. I have some specialized skills and did my homework to determine potential clients. All good. But I now have more business than I can handle but I am wary about adding staff. Any thoughts on how to approach growing my business?
Congratulations on going out on your own and sustaining your business for 3 years so far! That is something to be proud of. And you went through the right steps by determining market needs and potential clients before you left. That caution has served you well in the past and that same caution is needed in growing your business going forward. In my experience as both a business owner and coach, here are 3 of your top considerations in growing a staff:
- Determine the tasks you can delegate: Review and study some of your recent projects. What were the tasks that took you a long time but really did not require your high level skills. Were there administrative skills you could delegate to others? Perhaps bookkeeping and clerical aspects of your work. Quantify the time it took you to do those. Project forward how you might have been freed up to take on additional projects if you had some support. Sole proprietorship businesses often grow by hiring an assistant first, and then considering higher level personnel once that support is in place. Ideally, you will have time then freed up to find additional projects.
- Write out a job description: Think though your upcoming projects. Identify the tasks you can delegate and the specific skills required. Think through the education and training level needed for the tasks to be done right. Consider perhaps a person you could train. Also think about that person growing and providing additional skills. Think about the time you will have freed up to possibly do more business development and really grow. Also think logistically about where this person will work. Can they work remote? Is there room for them in your work space? Perhaps look to find inexpensive office space where you can expand?
- Consider a short term contractor or temp first: Walk before you run. When you know you have some good, lucrative project coming up, think about hiring someone on a contract or temporary basis. See how it goes. First try to find people through your own network. Consider a job board at a local college to find a part time student perhaps. Also, see if you can build a staff person into your next contract. Show that you need an assistant and how much that person costs. You might even make it a win-win with your clients as they see that for lesser skills you are employing a lower priced worker and passing the savings on to them. Growing a business can be exciting but it can also be stressful and daunting. It is wise to go slowly, proceed with caution, and be thorough in assessing the exact role and time required for the new staff member. When it is done carefully and strategically, adding staff can be both lucrative and another step in building a larger, more impactful business. Good luck, Dan! Wishes for all the best as you grow your business successfully! Coach Joan