So many startups have their beginnings in the minds of one individual person. They set to work on building their businesses from the ground up, work long hours, and do everything themselves. It’s really inspiring.
However, most businesses will hit a point where things aren’t running so smoothly anymore. The owner is so preoccupied with just trying to manage the company that something slips. It might involve client acquisition, bookkeeping, or even social media.
I’ll call this the One Man Show Tipping Point, and it’s defined by the moment when a solo startup needs to hire help.
A lot of the time though this tipping point is completely missed by the startup owner. They’re so entrenched in the day-to-day business operations, they miss the big picture. Nod your head if this is starting to sound like you.
For those who might occasionally need a reminder to step back and see the big picture, I offer you five things to be on the lookout for that signal it’s time to toss the “solopreneur” moniker to the side and embrace your future as a boss.
Let’s say you’ve been running your business for about a year now. New clients are rolling in every day. You barely have to do any hunting for leads anymore – people come straight to you. Life couldn’t get much better, right?
Theoretically, yes. Until you wake up one morning and realize you’ve taken on way more work than you could ever possibly do yourself.
As a sole proprietor myself, I understand the dilemma. Once success starts rolling your way, you either have to turn down work or keep taking on work until your head explodes. To avoid the latter, hiring an employee is your best bet.
Now, every task you complete that’s related to your business is important. Even if that means balancing the books, answering emails, or looking for new clients. And when you’re first starting out, you might have time to handle all of these tasks yourself.
However, as your work demands increase, you’ll need to start handing off these things to someone else. Because let’s face it: you have to answer those emails and you have to build a social media following to keep your business afloat. But you don’t necessarily need to be doing those things.
What position you decide to hire for first will vary from company to company, so you’ll need to use your best judgement as to which tasks you need the most help with.
Think of it this way – spend your time doing the tasks only you can complete. Those real, money-making tasks; the things that have defined your business and brought you success in the first place. Anything that doesn’t fall into this category can easily be passed onto a qualified employee.
Turning down work is the literal worst. But many startup owners find themselves in this position when they’re pushed to the brink and have zero time to complete the work currently on their plates, let alone new work.
If you find yourself having to turn down offers, it’s time to expand, stat. That can mean hiring employees to tackle day-to-day business operations or possibly employees to help you complete work for your clients. So long as you’re left with a healthy profit margin, hiring an employee or two is a good way to continue to increase your workload without sacrificing quality.
Maybe you’re handling all the work that comes in just fine. And maybe you’re keeping on top of all the tasks related to your business. But your ability to stay on top of it all comes with a price: you’re overwhelmed. You’re exhausted. You’re pulling all-nighters just to stay ahead of the game.
Sure, the occasional all night work session is to be expected, especially when you’re in business for yourself. It’s your company so presumably you actually like your job. But trying to do everything at the expense of sleep, your relationships, and your hobbies isn’t healthy.
One day, probably soon, something will break the dam, and everything will fall apart. You’ll either burn out on your business, make a mistake, or worse, lose your passion. None of those are good things. You might even just find yourself short-tempered from all the stress, which can negatively impact relationships from the business to the personal.
Don’t let this happen to you. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, get some outside help. Bring in an employee. Even just part-time help can make all the difference.
Making Good Money, But Not Enjoying It
One of the biggest indicators of professional success is a nice hefty bank account. But it’s not the be all, end all goal. If you have a lot of money and no time to use it for anything fun, then what’s the point?
Having great profit margins is great but if you’re working yourself to an early grave to maintain them, it’s probably time to reconsider your approach. As in, it might be worth adding a bit more expense to your company if it means having free time to enjoy doing things you like and being with those you love. And sometimes that requires an attitude shift as well.
Try living in the moment for a change rather than obsessing over the minutia of your business. You might just find your mood improved.
Managing a startup is a full-time job, no question about it. And it’s possible to handle the whole shebang on your own for a while. But as you grow, your resources need to grow, too. It takes wisdom to recognize the moment when your company is ready for its first employee.
Hopefully, these key things to look for will help you along your path to enlightenment.
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