How to avoid growing pains in business expansion

Every month First for Business shares the Dream Team’s answers to the questions on your minds. We want to share Partner Lisa Leighton’s answers with you.

“Dear Dream Team, my business plan seems to be a success – orders are coming in, and if we expand any more we will need bigger premises. But before I rush into things I am trying to be realistic. I know many SMEs can end up one late payment away from disaster. How do I know when it’s time to take the plunge? Where should I go for advice about hiring? And since I am planning on expanding the team further, how can I manage my own changing role at the top of the tree?”

Here’s what Lisa had to say…

With any growing business comes a variety of growth pains.  One of those pains, as you quite rightly point out, is the need to expand the team.  Up until now if you are a start-up business you may have been carrying out all roles yourself – sales, operations, technical, HR, accounting to name but a few (in addition to making tea and ordering stationery!).  There is only so far that you can grow your business if you continue to try and do everything yourself.  At some point you will need to hire so that you can concentrate on what you do best in your role and to continue to grow the business.  This is a major stepping stone for any business owner as you have to learn to delegate and to some extent let go.  One of the ways that you will know that it is time to recruit is that the existing workforce will no longer be able to cope with the increased activity (i.e. there will not be enough hours in the day!).

Before you do take the plunge and start to recruit it may be worthwhile, in the first instance, assessing at a high level why there has been an increase in tasks required to be carried out by the team.  Hopefully it is as a result of increased sales or opportunities, but it may be because of inefficiencies in your current processes which may be able to be absorbed if the current team changes the way in which it works.

Assuming there is a requirement to recruit there are many ways in which you can find the right person.  A key element of getting the right person on board is being specific about the job role.   Preparing a job spec is essential to attracting the right person for the role.  Once you have that available there are numerous ways to advertise the role, including on your website, using social media (LinkedIn and Twitter for example are great ways to draw out candidates) or using a recruitment company which specialises in the area in which you are recruiting.