The Entrepreneur Insiders network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in America’s startup scene contribute answers to timely questions about entrepreneurship and careers. Today’s answer to the question “How do you know it’s time to hire more employees?” is written by Mark Weiner, founder and CEO of Reduxio.
Advice on who to hire is plentiful. But knowing when to actually take that step toward a full-time hire is critical to the success of your company, your burn rate, your brand’s reputation, the morale and engagement of your current team, and the satisfaction of your new employee.
Reduxio is a global company, but we run the company with a lean team and often decide not to hire when presented with the ability or opportunity. Our business has grown rapidly as a small, effective, and highly focused team, and we only bring people on board who fit three critical criteria: He or she serves both the current and future needs of our company—we want people who can scale with us if they perform well; he or she is a strong cultural fit with our global, diverse team; and we have an urgent need to better serve and support our customers.
If you are thinking about hiring, here are some decision-making tools that will help you determine if the time is right:
Try creative staffing
Ahead of making a full-time hire, try creative approaches to staffing against your company’s top priorities. At Reduxio, one of the first teams we started building—besides engineering and sales—was our marketing department. We brought on a strategic lead first, and then we needed to generate good ideas quickly to fulfill his strategy. In the absence of a full team, we hosted both an internal and an external hackathon to create volumes of ideas, all of which we later executed on. These hackathons allowed for external input, boosted internal creativity, and led to abundant idea generation that we then prioritized and executed, all with minimal investment on our end.
Additionally, try job sharing. We have a single, very talented manager doing both marketing and sales as both groups start to ramp up. Obviously, this won’t be a long-term solution for us or for her, but this allows us to maximize output from the teams in the short term, create a critical bridge between our sales and marketing teams, share the cost of the position across two budgets, and provide optionality for a star player on our team, as she determines which route will be best for her career.
Focus on culture
Especially when hiring, your team—and the culture of it—has to come first. I’ve often seen advice recommending hiring when leadership is focusing on smaller, less strategic tasks. Match that with your culture. At Reduxio, we follow the martial arts mentality of “everyone cleans the mats,” which means that no matter your seniority or position, everyone helps. There is no task too low for any employee.
For example, I spent a lot of time as the pre-sales engineer for our Amsterdam sales team, following up with customers on tasks delegated by our sales team and troubleshooting day in and out. Did I have other responsibilities as the CEO? Of course. But with my work on the sales team, we were able to delay hiring that engineer until sales volumes required it, and it saved us valuable cash. When hiring, make sure you have adequately assessed your culture and work ethic against the needs of any incoming position.
Hiring is one of the—or perhaps the—most important things you’ll do as a leader. Give it the right amount of time and focus, have guidelines or standards to drive your decision, and understand the cost implications. One baseline rule that we use for any full-time hire is to assess the new team member’s ability to scale with our business. If they handle five accounts now, can they handle 30 in a year? If the answer is no, then the cost of turnover and lost productivity to our team isn’t worth it.
Consider the impact on current staff
As you hire, your last consideration should be that of your current staff—your company’s most valuable resource. Understand the real implications of burnout of your current team if you wait too long, and the implications on their productivity if you hire too early. Talk openly with your team about their needs and growth plans. Overall, every member of your small company will likely be impacted by hiring decisions.