The Growth Conundrum

The cold belt-tightening of January may be an odd time to be talking about growth. Even more so to be talking about growth as a potential business problem. It’s in these times of – for want of a better word, austerity – that growth can prove to be a bit of a conundrum.

We are all somebody’s client at some point in the food chain, and as such, we know that now is not the best time to commit to a long-term business relationship. It seems that, what people in such economic times are after is a quick fix solution to their business needs. A solution that requires no long-term financial obligation.

But herein lies the problem for the service (or solution) provider. As you take on more new short-term clients, at what point do you take the plunge and bolster your team to manage the additional workload? It’s a chicken and egg thing. What comes first? The team to service the clients or the clients to pay the team’s wages?

Let’s look at the options.

Option one is to hire somebody on a long term basis, investing time and effort in integrating them into the team and your business, in the hope that incoming business levels remain dependable. This option gives the team stability which, in turn, means that your clients receive a consistent service.

Option two is to go for a short-term hire to get you through a busy period. You hire somebody who can come in and just get the job done only to leave again once the rush is over. The problem with this is that it doesn’t give the new employee any commitment and therefore, how much commitment will you receive in return?

Or do you go for the third option – the freelancer? Now, I think freelancers are great – I was one myself for many years. They are generally experts in their field and can come in, do their job, and leave again without the need for any hand-holding. On the flip side, however, too many different faces can lead to a lack of consistency and frustrated clients. And the rest of your team could start to tire of the revolving door approach.

Personally, my gut feeling is to go for option one. Yes, it’s a gamble, but then most things in life are. And if you don’t have faith in your business, then nobody else will. In order to sustain current growth, you need to adopt a grown mindset, bite the bullet and invest in your people.

Take the long view and you’ll end up with a committed team who have the focus and drive to develop new business opportunities as and when needed. They will understand your company’s culture and adopt the required tone of voice. They will become the touch-points for your potential new business leads. A close-knit team is worth its weight in gold. And regardless of the financial situation, gold always seems to hold its value.