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5 Pains and Gains of Growing Your Business (Op-Ed)

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Robert Glazer is president of the Boston chapter of Entrepreneurs' Organization (EO), 100 Boston entrepreneurs who each own a company with gross annual sales exceeding $1 million. EO enables small and large business owners to learn from each other, leading to greater business success and an enriched personal life. Glazer is also the founder and managing director of Acceleration Partners. He contributed this article to BusinessNewsDaily's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.

Successful business growth is an organic process that requires leaders to balance new opportunities with the resources necessary to take advantage of those opportunities. In the right scenario, that means expanding by bringing on more employees.

Growing staff beyond a handful of employees is a new ballgame, and brings its own set of pains and gains. Here are the top five.

Hiring is exciting. It gives you a chance to find a new team member with the skills and personality needed to move your business forward. You cannot, however, rush this process. Finding an 'A Player' who perfectly complements your team can take months, and it's important to get it right the first time, every time, no matter how long it takes.

How do you find the right employee? Clearly define your company's values, prioritize staffing needs and understand what personality will blend well with your team before you publicize "help wanted." Once you have a clear picture of your ideal 'A' Player, use referrals and start networking with people inside your professional circle to learn about great job candidates they know. This method tends to generate the best leads for finding top people. More often than not, an applicant who is referred to you or is connected to your network is a less-risky hire than someone you know nothing about.

When recruiting and interviewing, think of ways to filter 'A' from 'B' players, such as using a mock work assignment to assess how the applicant tackles projects, or administering a personality test that helps you understand how the applicant might mesh with other team members.

As your staff grows, you should naturally transition employees from "jack-of-all-trades" roles into more-concentrated positions within your company. In the beginning, your business was successful because you hired employees who could essentially do it all. But this approach does not sustain long-term growth, because being a "jack-of-all-trades" can be overwhelming in a larger firm, where you have to keep a lot more balls in the air at one time.

On the other hand, allowing employees to focus on what they do best will sharpen your company's specialized skill set and help diversify the services you're able to offer.

Having more hands on deck also means that your employees spend less time reacting to situations, and more time as proactive workers focused on achieving bigger, more specialized initiatives for clients.

Establishing a culture that grows with your business helps ensure that, no matter how large the staff size, everyone will stay true to the values you originally envisioned.

To help your staff stay connected to the purpose of the company at all times, hold employees accountable for quarterly and annual goals that align with your company's core values.

Diversifying the talent and overall makeup of your team will no doubt enrich your company culture, and strong communication will be the key to maintaining that culture. Communication within your company through daily huddles, weekly wrap-up meetings and team-building exercises not only helps employees keep company priorities at the forefront, but also fosters the growth of interoffice mentorships, friendships and experiences — all of which strengthen company morale.

In the beginning, it's easy to be involved in every aspect of running the company, and it can be difficult to let go of the work you've been doing for so long when the company grows. As your staff gets bigger, you have the opportunity to delegate some of the work and decision making, freeing up more time to work on your business rather than in it.

By giving employees more responsibility, you not only empower them to become new company leaders, but you also allow them to reinvent and improve the work performed by your organization.

Take an in-depth look at the current state of your business to understand the financial constraints you face in attempting to grow. It's true that increasing your staff should help you bring in more revenue, but at what cost? Before hiring, clearly define the potential financial benefits and problems associated with adding each new staff member.

Take a look at past and future revenue cycles to ensure you can sustain salary, payroll taxes, benefits, overhead expenses and maintenance associated with a new employee. Think outside the box to keep operational costs down. For example, outsourcing benefits and payroll could be less expensive than hiring a human resources manager. And using flexible work centers to rent space on a month-by-month basis may help keep overhead costs down.

Once you have a better understanding of how your business operates, you might find that your company doesn't need additional employees; instead, you may need to re-evaluate business operations, processes and the current roster of clients to stimulate the growth process.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher. This version of the article was originally published on BusinessNewsDaily.

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