To grow or not to grow? That is the question. Will selling more projects to more customers and hiring more employees to manage those projects really make a small business better, stronger business?

Sound familiar? If you own a small business which has been in existence for almost any length of time these questions are probably very familiar to you. It would be wonderful if there was a simple formula, when sales = x add one person, but it just doesn’t work exactly like that. There are however a few reliable signs to watch for which indicate you may need to staff up.

Missing deadlines

If team members are consistently missing deadlines or working overtime to make sure you hit your deadlines this is probably a good indication you are understaffed. Sure things get busy every now and then and something slips or you need to put in a little extra time. That is ok, but if it is a regular occurrence you may have a staffing issue.

Before you rush out and hire someone, review employee workload. Look for ways to balance tasks between team members. Next, look closely at projects or tasks which take lots of time. Is the client not providing the information you need to do the job efficiently? Does the employee need a little training to improve their efficiency?

If you have balanced workloads and improved your processes but your team still can’t get it done that’s a good sign that you are ready for an additional employee.

Non-critical tasks never get done

Every team has a mix of urgent and non-urgent tasks. Those lower-priority tasks get pushed to the back burner when there is too much to do. That’s fine if it happens from time to time. If these tasks are repeatedly postponed, you may be short staffed.

Review your list of non-urgent items. Are they being pushed off because you don’t have the bandwidth or they just aren’t important? If they do need to get done, and you can’t assign them to someone else, think about adding someone to your team.

Exceeding goals

This is the opposite problem. In this case, your team is performing well but they are at capacity. There is no more bandwidth to take on additional projects. When this happens it is time to raise your price. Clearly your services are in demand. Charging a bit more will allow you to reward those outstanding performers, eliminate or reduce unprofitable projects and add a bit more to the bottom line without increasing your workload.

Still have too much work? Now it is time to add that extra person and you will have the increased revenue to support the expanded payroll.

It is never an easy decision to add another team member. There is the additional payroll and overhead and the concern about whether or not you have made a good hire. But there is a moment when you know the only way to grow is to add that next person.

Start watching for the signs and plan ahead so you have people in place when you are ready for the next phase of your growth.

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