If you’re like many entrepreneurs, the idea of being a one-man band or solo act doesn’t bring you to pause – instead, it’s the very fuel that has powered your progress to this point. But after you’ve weathered the first one or two years as a true business owner, and once you’ve expanded to a point where you have to think about the realities of scaling your enterprise, then you know you’re on the verge of bigger and broader considerations.
And now those questions go way beyond just you.
We checked in with Shannon and Bryan Miles, the husband-and-wife team that co-founded BELAY. Here’s what they shared about their own journey in growing the business and what other entrepreneurs can learn.
How did you know you needed to re-evaluate your staffing plan as your company evolved?
Bryan Miles: “We’ve always operated in growth mode and hired resources in anticipation of that growth. At the same time, we had more opportunity than dollars. We had to prioritize our opportunities to grow the business and say ‘no’ to others.”
Shannon Miles: “Client service at the forefront of our business. Never wanting it to diminish our clients for the sake of growth is why we brought someone on the team to handle client services. That was one of our first part-time hires.”
So your first hires were part-time professionals. When did you determine you needed to bring on full-time staff?
Shannon Miles: “We always needed full-time help, but we just couldn’t afford it at the time. It was almost one year before we could bring anyone on full time to help us grow.”
Bryan Miles: “Before that point, we had part-time bookkeeping and administrative help – we absolutely knew we couldn’t expand without them.”
How did you go about identifying which full-time roles you needed to hire first?
Bryan Miles: “When you are starting a business, the types of people you want and need are very different from the staff that must be on board once a company is established. In the beginning, you need all-hands-on-deck employees with a general practitioner mindset. As the company grows and stabilizes, what you want and need for your employees is more of a specialist mindset.”
What were some observations you could see – or feel – that let you know it was truly time to invest in BELAY from a personnel standpoint?
Shannon Miles: “We could sense when we were reaching the limit of our capacity and needed to replace ourselves. The easiest way to identify this was if we were doing something outside of our skill set that a more specialized team member could do better. Another indicator is if we were doing something that absolutely drained us.”
Bryan Miles: “It was about two to three years into our business when we really started hiring ‘specialists’ for roles vs. ‘general practitioners.’ When we made this shift, we had to become really specific about job descriptions. When we did this, we saw the results almost immediately. It was an inflection point for us that enabled us to scale the business alongside the growth demands we were experiencing.”
Which mistakes do you witness other small businesses make that mirror where BELAY was years ago when it comes to scaling their core team for growth?
Shannon Miles: “One issue is assuming they can go it alone indefinitely. At some point as a leader or business owner, you will hit the lid of personal capacity.”
Bryan Miles: “Needing to feel a ‘sense of completion’ as an entrepreneur is a major stumbling block. Business owners should create qualified opportunities for others to be empowered. They should delegate and then get out of the way, allowing others to win in the scale of their organizations.”
If you have been a solo act for a while now, maybe you feel it’s time to start bringing on employees. Before you go post a job opening on an online job board, take a few minutes and read 9 Reasons to Rethink Your Approach to Staffing. After you’ve read it, schedule a time to talk with one of our Solutions Consultants to see if working with a remote team member like a virtual assistant or virtual bookkeeper might be the right option for you and your business.