When you’re first starting your small business, your initial hires are key. But oftentimes the best people for your company early-on are not best people for your company down the road. It makes sense when you think about it — the needs of a 5-person company are vastly different from the needs of a 30-person company. So the people with the skills and interests that best serve an early-stage company are not going to be the same as the people with the skills and interests that best serve a growth-stage company.
How do you know when it’s time to start thinking about leveling up with new hires? Check out these 4 signs to see if you’ve outgrown your current leadership and get tips on what to look for in your next round of hires.
1. Your “rock stars” are now hindering your growth.
You’ve had certain employees since the beginning of your startup—the ones who love the grind, who feed off the entrepreneurial spirit, and who have the basic skills to do a little bit of everything. But as the team grew, roles became more specialized, layers of leadership were created, and now you’re struggling to find where these employees fit in. It’s important to be honest with yourself—are you keeping them around because they’ve always been there or because they’re actually still an asset to your team? If you feel like they’re lagging behind, it might be time to consider other options.
How to hire for growth: You’ve been spending time shuffling these employees around to various positions to see if anything works, but to no avail. That’s a sign that it’s time to part ways. It’s also a good indicator that these people are true entrepreneurs who thrive in very early stage startups. They’ll likely agree that that is in fact where they excel and what they’re passionate about, and parting ways will be mutual.
Instead, you need to find someone who is great at the next stage of company growth. For leadership, look for someone who has experience scaling a company. For other roles, look for someone who is specialized in the areas where your company feels like it’s struggling the most.
2. Important things are falling through the cracks.
Business is great, in fact, it’s so good that you can barely keep up with it — everywhere you look the ball is getting dropped. Maybe hot leads aren’t being followed up with in a timely manner. Maybe clients aren’t getting the same level of service they’ve received in the past. Maybe you haven’t even looked at your finances in weeks.
How to hire for growth: You no longer have the capacity to oversee everything. It’s time to hire department heads to manage these teams and make sure that they have what they need to be successful. For your financials, if may not make sense just yet to bring on a CFO in-house. Consider a virtual CFO. They can help by presenting an unbiased, impartial review of where your company is best suited to see growth and where you should focus your resources.
3. Your current team is resistant to technology or automation.
After watching multiple retail titans file for bankruptcy or announce extensive closings this year, it’s easy to see how not keeping up with the times can be a sign of death for any business. Whether this is in the form of new technology in the workplace or certain forms of automation, one thing is certain: Resistance to industry change is a problem you need to root out as soon as possible. While incorporating technology, automation, or even outsourcing, can dramatically change how your workforce functions (including eliminating a few jobs), it’s crucial to advance where necessary.
How to hire for growth: Technology is helping companies become slimmer and more efficient than ever. If you’re still managing the bookkeeping without the help of platforms like QuickBooks or Xero or trying to tackle social media without a tool like Buffer or Hootsuite, you’re just not being smart with your time or resources. To save time and money — and your skin from the chopping block — make sure you’re hiring team members who are well-versed in technology and excited about keeping up with the latest releases. They’ll be key in helping your business operate efficiently, adapt to change, and stay ahead of your competitors.
4. You’re stuck in limbo.
You’ve successfully built your company, and it’s running smoothly. But now you’re not sure what to do next. You’re either struggling to set goals for new growth or you’re struggling to achieve them. It may be time to go back to the drawing board and evaluate whether your position as CEO is the best thing for the company. It’s hard to admit, but many founders don’t have the skills to take a startup to the next level. Consider the same concept we discussed earlier with your former “rock stars.” If you want this business that you created to be successful and truly feel like there’s someone else out there who can better lead the company, then you know what you have to do.
How to hire for growth: If you’ve made the decision to transfer from the CEO role, work with your board to ensure that your new CEO has experience scaling a business, fits with your company culture and vision, and is dedicated to maintaining a strong relationship with you, the board, and the team.
Starting a business is hard. Scaling a business might be even harder. These signs and steps will make the process easier. Get excited — it may be a bumpy road, but it’s going to be a great ride.
If you’re ready to scale, it’s time to talk to an expert about your financial future. Schedule a free 30-minute consultation with one of our CFOs to see where you can make the smartest moves for your business today.