When you say you run your own company people always ask how many staff you have. The higher the number, the more impressed people seem to be and I can understand that. I fell into this trap myself, the trap of thinking bigger is better.

I thought to be classed as a successful company I needed to grow. I needed to get a bigger office, hire more people, and why not. The company was making enough money, so I just went with it.

Then one day I looked up and I was responsible for ten full-time employees, a whole host of freelancers, and an office big enough for 30+ people. Unchecked, a business can take on a life of its own. I didn’t plan for it to be like that, it just happened. I never stopped to think about what I really wanted.

The more staff you have, the more politics there are. You go to the pub and suddenly you can no longer all fit around the same table, splinter groups start to emerge. You get a bigger office and the overheads suddenly balloon. All of this leads to more stress and more pressure. Maybe some people get a kick out of it. I don’t.

Over time I started scaling back my business. I’ve found running a smaller, more intimate company is so much more enjoyable. I now work from home, there’s less stress, and best of all I get to see my family whenever I want. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying don’t hire people or don’t get an office, I’m just saying think carefully before you do. You need to be ambitious, but not so much so that the stress of it ends up making you sick.

As a company grows, there’s a tipping point and getting stuff done actually becomes slower. There’s more process and more meetings.

Small, agile, and profitable is much better.

If you run a small business, think carefully before hiring anyone full-time. Think very carefully before getting an office. Think about the longer term and where you want to end up. Do you really want the overheads and all the other stuff that a bigger business brings along with it?