The Employee Risk Myth: Why You’re Afraid To Scale

Let’s take a look at the risk involved with scaling and hiring employees. It just might be worth it. Spoiler alert—it is worth it.

Photo: Carolyn Hern, Pure Barre Franchise Owner; Source: Courtesy Photo

Most businesses start in a very similar fashion. In the beginning, all you have is an idea, a product or service, and you to sell it.

In the beginning, it’s just you. But eventually, you’ll have to grow a team to replace yourself. Otherwise, you’ll risk hitting the maximum threshold of work that only one person can perform … and probably physically exhaust yourself in the process.

In business school, hiring more employees to grow your business is called “scaling your company.” And don’t let anyone fool you. Scaling is just as risky as going into business in the first place.

So why risk hiring employees?

Scaling is imperative, otherwise you’ll burn yourself out, risk your health and possibly fail at running your business. After all, if something happens to you, you’ll be forced to close your doors. But wait! You might be thinking, “You just said that scaling was just as risky as going into business. I’ll take my chances and go it alone. It’s enough risk just to be open in the first place.”

Let’s take a look at the risk involved with scaling. It just might be worth it. Spoiler alert—it is worth it.


Don’t freak out, embrace risk

It really bothers me when someone brings up the word “risk” in a negative way. Since when did taking a risk turn into something bad?

If you Google “risk definition” you’ll get “a situation involving exposure to danger.” Really? Seems a little extreme.

Starting a business is pretty risky—we’ve already established that. Ordering day-old sushi involves a degree of risk. Hell, getting married is pretty high up on the risk ladder (there are some really crazy people out there). But are you really putting yourself in harm’s way or exposing yourself to danger doing any of these things?


Mindset shifts for success
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Isn’t risk just a situation involving a degree of multiple outcomes, or uncertainty?

As business owners, it’s our job to assess risk by looking at the possible outcomes, developing a plan or strategy to achieve the best outcome and executing that plan—thus mitigating the risk.

It’s also our job to not freak out if things don’t go our way initially. If you’re a good leader and manager, you can solve any problem that arises. Or better yet, train your team solve some of those problems for you.


Why we put off taking risks

Taking risks isn’t a bad thing. In fact, for small business owners it’s a necessity. You took a risk opening your business and now you have to take some risks to grow your business. So why do we seem to put off taking risks?


We over-worry

You know you do it—when you think about taking that one big risk (or even a little one), you start to over-worry about all the things that could go wrong. You start saying things like “I can’t, because…”

Instead of thinking of risks as dangerous or bad, try thinking about all the opportunities that you might gain. It’s easy to focus on the negative side of risk. But what about all the positives that come from risk-taking? Oh yeah, those.


We jump straight to ‘no’

Why do we jump straight to “No”? There are three phases of a business. When you first start your business, you’re in the “Yes Phase.” You say “Yes” to everything because you either don’t know any better or you’re afraid to say “No” and offend people.

Eventually you get burned from saying “Yes” all the time and you move solidly into the “No Phase.” The “No Phase” means that people ask you things and you don’t even think about it, you say “No” to everything. And you don’t care about offending anyone. And it’s awesome.


How to revive a declining brand
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But after a while, you start to think, maybe some of these asks might actually be good for my business—now you’re in the “Maybe Phase.” You hesitate to say “No” right away. But you sure don’t say “Yes.” In the “Maybe Phase” you evaluate each ask and scrutinize everything to ensure it makes sense for your business. 

You can’t skip phases or rush them.

Still in the “Yes Phase” and miserable? Don’t worry, eventually you’ll move over to the “No Phase” and start enjoying life again. I had been dipping my toes in the “Maybe Phase” for a while, but then I hired a great team and I cannonballed in.

When you have a team that is taking care of things for you and your business, you suddenly have the luxury of time and time allows you to think ideas and opportunities through.


We don’t calculate the cost of doing nothing

This is probably the most over-looked aspect of risk-avoidance. There is an actual cost (in $) for not taking risks in your business. Sure, it’s risky to hire employees—but if you do nothing what will that inaction cost you?

If you gained extra time during each week after hiring an employee, how much extra revenue could your business earn? How many additional clients could you convert if you had time to develop a new, more effective marketing campaign? Or attend more networking events?

Sit down and figure out what your time is worth and if you had more of it, how that would increase your profitability. 

If you’re hesitant to take a risk and hire employees to scale your business, it’s important to ask yourself: “What am I losing by my inaction?”

There is a cost for doing nothing. If you don’t act, your competition will.


This article has been edited.

Carolyn Hern is a small business owner of two Pure Barre franchises located in Winston-Salem and Clemmons, NC. Pure Barre is a unique workout which provides exceptional results by utilizing the ballet barre and isometric movements. Carolyn is passionate about her business and developing her team and shares her experiences in the business of fitness on her blog at She’s On Her Toes. Connect with @shesonhertoes on Twitter.


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