As a successful one-person operation, eventually you’re likely to reach the point where you need to take on some outside help. Taking on your first employee should give you a big help with your workload, especially in the long term – however in the immediate future you actually have quite a lot of extra work to carry out. And some of that work will be figuring out whether the time is right to begin expanding your business.

The obvious time is when you have too much work on your hands for you to handle, or when you have to start turning away work. You also need to have the money to pay a new employee, or otherwise be certain that you will have that kind of turnover once you start receiving that help.

On the other hand it might be that you actually want to diversify your business by offering new services, and would like to bring in new staff – for example, a web designer or salesperson. If you’re not equipped by yourself to open up new streams of revenue, this is where a new employee could come in most useful.

There’s little reason to take on a permanent employee just to get you through a busy period. Doing this is neither cost-effective nor fair on the person you take on only to make them redundant within months. If you simply need more hands on deck for a single project or for a few months, you may be better served by taking on a consultant or other form of outside help. Essentially it only makes sense to hire if you can provide work for them indefinitely.

While you’re asking yourself whether the position will still be needed years from now, you should also consider whether there will actually be enough for them to do day to day. A very small company for example probably doesn’t need a full-time accountant or HR specialist. If there won’t be enough work for a full-timer soon, you can hire a part-time or temporary employee instead.

Ultimately, nobody can really tell you when the right time to expand is – that will be based on your own analysis of your industry, your operation and your strategy for expansion. And while taking on another employee feels big, it is really the first step to growing a successful business.

Do you have experience of growing from a one-man band into a small business? How did you know it was time to grow? Let’s hear your experiences in the comments.

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