Dan Counsell

Think before you grow your business

Thursday, 30th April 2020

When you say you run your own company people often 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, I needed to hire more people. The company was doing well, so I just went with it.

One day I looked up and I was responsible for ten full-time employees, a handful 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 actually wanted.

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

Drawing of someone thinking

Over time I let the businesses shrink. People left. I never rehired. I found running a much smaller company was more enjoyable, just like it used to be nearer the beginning. I now work from home, there's less stress, and best of all I get to spend more time with my family.

Don't get me wrong; I'm not saying you shouldn't hire people, rent office space, or try to grow your business. 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 ill.

As a company grows, there's a tipping point and getting stuff done becomes slower. There's more process, more meetings, more opinions, more admin. More everything.

If you're starting a new business, or running an existing one, think very carefully about where it's going, and where it might take you.

If you do leave things unchecked you might not like where you end up.