4 ways your new business can survive with limited staffing

By Lizzie Weakley

The early months of a new business are exciting. Work is coming in, your name is getting out there, and you’re watching your dream come true. However, there are always some challenges to address, and one of those is how to maintain adequate staffing to sustain that growth. While your resources are limited, this is a tricky balance to manage. Many businesses are unable to get through their first two years. It is difficult, but not impossible, to be healthy and growing at the end of this period. Here are four ways to navigate those short-handed months.

Contracting out certain services

Many of the tasks to be done in your business have not yet reached “critical mass” – that is, they are essential functions but your business doesn’t have quite enough of that work to do to justify a full-time person devoted to just that task.

Examples of those services include things like facility upkeep, such as mowing and cleaning. Most helpful, though, will be things like bookkeeping, billing, and translation functions. For these, virtual assistant services can work perfectly for your growing business.

Use temporary workers

It can be hard to commit to a large number of new hires at the same time. The pool of applicants may be too small, or you may simply lack the time to evaluate them properly before hiring.

A great option in this situation is to hire temporary workers. It frees you of the long-term commitment of a true hire, but it still provides a great way to evaluate people for potential permanent positions. Even when you are just trying to cover your immediate costs, outline a plan for the future.

Streamline processes

When you only have enough workers for 30 units of output, you can’t sustain 40. A great option in this situation is to look at your production situation.

Many of the functions needed to complete a unit of output are inefficient, requiring more workers than are really necessary. Look for wasted steps, production “pinch points,” and other labor wasters that will yield the same output with less input. It is important here to not expect the workers to put in more hours than necessary; instead encourage your workers to work efficiently and give them the rest they need to thrive.

Restructure orders

Time is often the greatest pressure on your staff. Completing orders on the client’s or customer’s schedule can be very challenging when you’re short on help.

One option is to work with customers to shuffle deadlines. Offer discounts to those who aren’t in a hurry, and if necessary, charge extra for fast-track work. These steps can help to sequence your work based on when it is actually needed instead of just when it was ordered, creating a natural prioritization system.

Sometimes fast growth is its own worst enemy. It can be difficult to stay on track when the demand for your business is growing exponentially. However, there are simple and effective solutions. These strategies can help you keep your growth positive as your staffing levels grow naturally.


Lizzie Weakley is a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio. In her free time, she enjoys the outdoors and walks in the park with her husky, Snowball. You can find her on Twitter @LizzieWeakley.

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