When should early-stage businesses hire staff

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One of the earliest and often toughest decisions an entrepreneur will have to make is when to hire staff. It is a significant milestone in any business growth story that bring considerable additional costs and responsibilities.

Here, James Johnson sets out the three conditions that might mean it is time to hire new staff and who to hire.

Driving growth

Perhaps the most obvious point to make, but as a business grows it very quickly becomes too difficult for the business owners to do everything. Founders, whether on their own or with friends, will each bring their own skills to a new business, all essential to the development and growth of that business. When they find themselves consumed by operational matters and diverted away from what is vital to the continued growth of that business, that is the time to consider making targeted hires. Hires should continue to support business growth.

Over-stretched workforce

Flexible and changing working patterns are often seeing people working harder for longer. Despite Twitter chief Elon Musk’s questionable call for “hardcore” staff to work “long hours at high intensity”, it is not a sustainable business model.

Where founders see staff working exceptional hours or struggling to meet workloads, it may well be time to bring on new members to the team. A happy, well-supported workforce is likely to be more productive and less likely to leave.

New skills

As a business grows and develops its products or service lines it is likely to require new skills. In some instances, such as finance or legal, these can be outsourced. But in many instances, they will be required to be part of the core team. This can create challenges for a growing business. some skills, such as data and AI specialists, are in high demand and command salaries to match.

Senior hires

Founders often tell me ‘if only I could clone myself’ when discussing how they might meet demand and resource growth. My response is almost always that would be a mistake. Successful businesses need diversity in backgrounds, skillsets and thinking. A different point of view is often what is needed when a business is looking to grow or break into new markets, or to address challenging situations from different perspectives.

Founders need to be prepared to let go of areas that they have been managing or leading, often since starting the business. It is not an easy transition and is best approached by asking what the business needs rather than what you need.

Look to hiring the very best people you can, that understand and share your vision, yet will challenge your thinking. They must be comfortable working in an entrepreneurial environment, something that can be missing in large organisations.

Hiring staff to support continued growth is a cornerstone of a successful business. It represents a considerable investment of both time and cash. When making these big ‘mission critical’ decisions it often pays to take advice.

Please get in touch with James Johnson on the details below if you would like to discuss anything related to the content of this article.

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James Johnson - Principal at Hillier Hopkins

James is a Chartered Accountant with more than twenty five years experience in accountancy and taxation. His particular expertise is working with entrepreneurial and family businesses.

Contact James at james.johnson@hhllp.co.uk or on +44 (0)1908 713873

Milton Keynes