6 Signs It's Time to Hire Employees for Your Startup At a certain time, your business will begin to scale, and you won't be able to maintain the same output level if you don't have some help.

By Shawn Cole

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The early days of a startup usually present a mix of excitement and fear for a founder. You're looking forward to embarking on your own and showing the world what you offer. However, revenue isn't guaranteed, and you may experience some hardships as you grow your organization.

Most startups begin with a bright idea and someone with the guts to take action on it. Typically, founders handle the operations of their organization from end to end, with no one to support them. However, as the company begins to scale, hiring a supportive staff becomes necessary.

How do you know it's time to hire new employees? Look out for these signs.

1. Overwhelming customer demand — you're turning down customers

As your company grows, you'll likely experience an ebb and flow of your sales. There will be times when you're so busy you spend all your waking hours handling your customer's orders, and others when you stare at your computer hoping a new sale will arrive.

You'll know your revenue is beginning to solidify when you can't physically handle all the orders that come in. You might need to turn down work simply because you only have two hands, and they're both full to the brim.

If this situation sounds familiar, it's time to bite the bullet and hire someone to support you. Turning down customers is a bad look for any organization and can discourage future clients from doing business with you.

If you're unsure whether you can sustain another employee part-time or full-time, consider a freelancer. You can outsource some of your work to a qualified freelancer during busy times while avoiding the long-term commitment of an employee.

Related: 9 Ways to Recruit the Best Talent for Your Startup

2. Declining customer satisfaction

Providing excellent customer service is crucial to all organizations. After all, your clients spend money on your products or services. They'll look for other options if they don't feel you treat them well.

If you can't provide your clients with the same white glove treatment that you did in the early days of your organization, you'll notice a decline in your customer reviews and an escalation of complaints. That's concerning and will likely lead to revenue declines if you don't address the problems swiftly.

Instead of allowing your customer service to tank, hire an employee to assist you. That way, you'll have more time to ensure every client has a positive experience with your company.

3. You're planning to introduce a new product or service

Things are great — your initial products and services took off, and you've successfully propelled your sales since the early days of your organization. Things are going so swimmingly that you decide to introduce a new source of revenue.

If that's the case, you'll likely see a new influx of customers. You'll need to prepare yourself. After all, you want to continue to service your original offerings while meeting future clients' needs.

Introducing a new product or service can potentially double the work you're already doing, and if you can't keep up with orders, all your efforts could fail. Consider hiring a qualified employee to help you keep the momentum flowing.

Related: How to Know When It's Time to Hire Your First Employee

4. Your current employees are overworked

Ideally, the team you hire will have specific responsibilities. For instance, you might have a sales director overseeing qualified leads and a finance guru managing your accounting books. However, if your employees are taking on work outside their purview, it's time to bring someone else on board.

You want your employees to concentrate on activities that add value to your company. Your accountant shouldn't oversee your customer service activities, and your operations manager shouldn't handle your social media accounts. If your employees' responsibilities are constantly changing, they may become unhappy and decide to leave.

Consider hiring an office manager if you need someone to handle administrative tasks or similar responsibilities. They can take care of the extra items that bite into your other employee's time.

5. You don't have time for a vacation

Startup founders typically know what to expect when starting a new business: endless work hours in a battle to establish a name for their organization. While that's admirable, at some point, you'll start burning the candle at both ends, and your work and other responsibilities, like your family, will suffer.

If you find your weekends are nonexistent, and there's never enough time to accomplish everything you need, it's time to bring in someone to help you. We all need time off to rest and recuperate from a busy lifestyle. Even if you feel it's impossible to take a week's vacation, you should still incorporate the occasional three or four-day weekend to reset your mind and get away from the pressures of your business.

Hiring someone you trust to handle your organization's daily activities can do wonders for your mental health and prepare you for upcoming challenges.

6. Your business bank account allows it

After months of solidifying your revenue streams and mitigating your expenses, you've built up a pretty impressive bank balance that you're quite proud of. While that's quite an accomplishment, it can signify that it's time to hire someone to assist you.

As your company continues to scale, your workload will likely increase. Eventually, you won't be able to keep up with your orders. Preparing in advance by hiring a new employee provides a buffer that will prevent you from turning down work if your sales become overwhelming.

If you hire now rather than wait until the last moment, you'll have time to train your new employee on the responsibilities they'll handle. There won't be a mad rush to onboard them when you become too busy to manage the company yourself.

Related: 5 Expert-Backed Strategies for Hiring Top-Quality Talent for Your Startup

If you see signs it's time to hire, take action quickly

Founders who note any of the above signs in their organization are wise to take action and look for team members to support them. At a certain time, your business will begin to scale, and you won't be able to maintain the same output level if you don't have some help. Recognizing that time is now can ensure you have the staff you need to continue building your company.

Shawn Cole

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor


Serial entrepreneur turned executive headhunter Shawn Cole is the President and Co-Founder of Cowen Partners, a global executive search firm. Shawn helps CEOs and Founders of start-ups to multi-billion dollar companies grow at scale, create value, and drive results with world-class talent.

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