Over one-quarter of small business owners work more than 60 hours a week. Worse yet, the average small business owner is more likely to experience stress, depression, and worry than the average employee — leading to +40 percent of owners having nightmares about their business failing. The truth is: bootstrapping a business is hard. You come in with a dream, mission, vision, and passion. But it’s easy to get overwhelmed and sidetracked by the minutia of day-to-day operations. Between compliance, paperwork, employee management, R&D, and meetings, the average small business owner barely has 5 hours a week to commit to sales and marketing.
At some point, the dam begins to show cracks. When you juggle 50 hats, it’s easy to drop a few. So, when is it time to put down your sales hat? Hiring your first salesperson is an important step on the growth journey. But figuring out when the time is right isn’t always easy.
How Small Business Owners Spend Their Time
The goal of any business owner is to spark growth, spread their vision, and develop their missions. So… why does the average business owner only spend 31 percent of their time actually growing their business? In fact, according to research by the NFIB, business owners spend 68 percent of their time working IN their business — not ON it. Yet, 75 percent would prefer to spend almost all their time working on their business.
Instead, most owners can expect to spend the vast majority of their day on five tasks:
- Employee management (e.g., interpersonal conflicts, etc.)
Yikes! That’s probably not what you signed up for when you started, is it? Eventually, you want to shed each of these responsibilities and focus primarily on growing the business. But who do you hire first?
What Position Should You Fill First?
We often hear the phrase, “you’ll know when it’s time to hire your first xxx.” If that was true, you wouldn’t be searching for this blog and there wouldn’t be 10 million blogs dedicated to “when you should hire your first xxx.” Shedding your first bucket of responsibilities by hiring a professional is a big step. And there are plenty of considerations to mull over before you make your selection.
All of the following factors should go into your decision:
- Which tasks consume the most of your time?
- Which responsibilities are you good at?
- Which responsibilities are you not-so-good at?
- Which tasks have the potential to generate the most revenue?
- Which tasks have the potential to generate the most growth?
- Which responsibilities are the most stressful for you?
The combination of all these factors can get tricky. For example, you may spend a significant amount of time on HR compared to sales. But if you struggle with sales and you excel at HR, hiring a salesperson may be a smarter bet. In other words, we can’t tell you who to hire first. And there is no “right” decision. It depends on your business, industry, employees, stress levels, and skillset.
When to Hire Your First Salesperson
According to “industry experts,” you should hire your first salesperson at 10 sales. Why? Who knows! Ten sales for one business may equal one sale for another business. So, this advice is generally unhelpful. Instead, you should hire a salesperson when you meet any of the following conditions:
Condition #1: You’re Not Good at Sales
This one is obvious. If you aren’t good at sales, a salesperson should be your first hire. Here’s the thing: it can be tough to tell if you’re bad at sales. Business owners are incredibly passionate about their product/service. But passion doesn’t always translate into capability. Be honest with yourself. This is important. There’s a reason salespeople go through intensive training and vetting. It’s not easy. And it requires a special touch. If sales is your weak area, your first hire should be a salesperson. Period. Nothing (and we do mean nothing) grows your company faster than securing revenue.
Condition #2: You Don’t Have Enough Volume
While this may be a result of condition #1, not investing enough time into building your pipeline, nurturing prospects, and moving them through your funnel may indicate that you need more resources at your disposal. While outsourcing may improve your process (more on that later), it might be time to hire a salesperson. Evaluate where in your funnel you see the most opportunity and whether a full-time sales rep may be the best solution.
Condition #3: Your Volume of Leads Exceeds Your Capacity
At some point, you’ll likely need your own internal sales team. But, at the start, you can squeeze by with an outsourced lead generation solution paired with your own sales capabilities. Luckily, the right outsourced lead generation pipeline can scale with your operation. So, you don’t lose anything by pursuing this option early. However, this only works if you’re good at sales and have the time to personally pursue every lead. At some point, the dam breaks. You’ll have too many leads and too little time. That’s when it’s time to hire your first salesperson.
The Scaling Journey
Growing a business is never easy. At first, you’ll struggle to secure leads, find opportunities, and establish growth roots. Chances are, you’ll also deal with financial stress, long hours, and headache-filled nights. But behind every challenge is a sense of accomplishment. You’re entering the brave and hyper-competitive landscape of entrepreneurship. And you may have the opportunity to change the world. But before you can create change and spark innovation, you need help. Administrative duties pile up, sales quotas lurk in the corner, and marketing challenges are ripe for the conquering.
Choosing that first hire is never easy. But once you pull the trigger, you enter a new realm of business ownership. From there, you can add more employees, create more growth, and eventually turn a profit. While deciding when to hire a salesperson is never easy, it’s a decision that needs to be made from the heart and the brain.
Are you ready to scale your sales? We can help. At Sapper, we provide outsourced lead generation and industry-leading sales consulting solutions. So, whether you need your first few leads or you’re ready to optimize your team of sales pros, we’re here for you. To learn more about our services, contact us.