Going from One Employee (You!) To Many

If you are like most small-business entrepreneurs, you started out with just one employee – yourself. And you may still be the only employee. But at some point, in the interest of being able to grow your company and your bottom line, you will probably want to begin hiring employees.

The trick to growing a business, however, isn’t to hire employees when you need them. Seems odd, right? But doing that often leads to failure or a high turnover rate, because you don’t have the position ready and in place. The last thing you need is for the hiring of employees to do the opposite of what you set out to do. After all, it’s estimated that the cost of acquiring, hiring and training a new employee is around 15% of their first year’s salary. So high turnover you do not need!

Setting the Stage

If you just up and hire someone without first making sure everything is in place, you are less likely to make that hire a successful one. If you want to succeed in expanding your business and hiring people, you need to be able to “plug in” employees to a process that is already working.

The key to growing from just you to an office full of productive employees is to have the systems planned out in advance. And here’s the trick to doing it:

First, take some time to document all the different roles that you currently play in your small business (even if it’s 30 different roles!). Maybe it is sales, customer service, accounting, marketing, and janitorial.
Next, create an organizational chart with all those positions. Give each position a title, then arrange them on the chart, based on who reports to whom. When you are finished, post the chart on the wall.
As you continue your regular work routine, keep your chart in mind, and stop for a moment to write down the tasks you are doing under each individual role. This will help you prepare an accurate duties list for each position. After about a week of working alone and covering each of these positions, you will have the majority of the tasks divided into their respective roles.

Blueprint in Hand

Once you have spent a week creating that organizational chart, you will find that you have a realistic blueprint of the roles you need to fill, and what each person will be doing in those roles. But you are not ready to start hiring just yet!

Next, it is time to make the chart a physical reality. Take a look at the chart and determine which time-consuming role could best be delegated to someone else. Provide that “role” with a desk that is separate from your own, complete with a computer and necessary materials to do the job, and make sure it is all set up and ready to go.

Mapping the Position

Then, you are going to work at your desk for everything else that you normally do, but when you are performing a task assigned to that particular role (the one you plan to hire someone for), go to the new desk to do that work. This will give you a chance to make sure you really have all the things there that the role requires. By doing this, you will be able to fix any problems that arise, gather all the necessary tools, and get it fully systematized and ready for the new hire.

Now, and only now, are you ready to bring on that new employee! And the best part about all this? The training should be super easy! You have been doing the position, and you have been doing it at their desk. The tools will already be in place, and many of the problems – technical or otherwise – will have been addressed and resolved.

When you have that new employee up to speed, then it is time to go on to the next role on the list that is taking up a majority of your time, and start the process over again. Soon, you will have the employees you need in place, without the headaches and costs that arise from not being fully prepared.


1 thought on “Going from One Employee (You!) To Many”

  1. Mike, it’s so ironic that I found this on your blog tonight. This is the EXACT process I’m walking through right now in our office. Growing from a very small team to a slightly bigger very small team. =)

    I hired my first assistant WAY before I was ready to do so. It wasn’t until she went out on maternity leave that I realized I worked less and made more when she wasn’t around. (YOu see, it was work for me to give her work to do!)

    Fast forward 5 years and she’s a ROCK STAR assistant for another business owner. All because — of course — her failure as an assistant was REALLY my failure as an employer. I miss her. Perhaps one day, I can “steal” her back!

    Great post, as usual!

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