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Small business: When to hire an employee

3 min read

Small Business

All that planning, hard work and sweat equity is paying off. Your business is growing. Is it time to grow your workforce, too? You could be ready for hiring an employee if you:

  • Get bad reviews or complaints. Negative customer feedback is an early indicator that something’s amiss. Analyze this data to determine whether the issue is related to insufficient staff or a problematic process/procedure, and to identify specific times of day or functions where you need the extra help. The Accenture Global Consumer Pulse Survey found 62% of customers switched service providers because of unsatisfactory customer service or experience. So hiring an employee can address the problems and improve business.
  • See a new revenue opportunity. Sometimes in the course of doing business you uncover a new line of revenue stream or line of business that’s worth pursuing. But if you’re like most small-business owners, you’re already working at full tilt. If the opportunity looks promising, it may be worth hiring an employee either to take over your duties at the existing business/location or to grow the new line. Evaluate the upside potential of the new opportunity with your financial advisers and industry or market experts to determine whether it can actually “pay for itself.”
  • Have to pass on work/can’t fulfill orders. High demand is the proverbial “good problem to have,” but you can have too much of a good thing. If you have to turn down customers or stop taking orders, you’re in danger of disappointing them or sending them to the competition — and they may never return. It’s vital to know whether the increase in demand is a short-term spike or a sustainable growth curve, before hiring people. The investment in a new employee to meet demand can help you retain and increase business from existing customers. An oft-cited metric estimates that the likelihood of selling to an existing customer is 60% to 70%; it’s only 5% to 20% for a prospect.
  • Lack a mission-critical skill. When you’re small, you have to handle as much as possible yourself, outsourcing only those tasks that require a high level of expertise or regulatory requirements. But as you grow, you also need additional internal capacity. For instance, if you rely heavily on your website to drive business and you update it frequently, it may make more sense to hire a pro who can manage the site and perform other related tasks like analytics, payment processing, etc. The same goes for less-skilled but just as important work. If you’re getting covered up with administrative tasks, it might make sense to hire an employee on a part- or full-time basis to take care of these basic tasks while you handle the bigger-picture items that can be done only by you.

If any of these scenarios sounds familiar, it may well be time to double your headcount by hiring an employee.

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