We are scared and scarred. How can we grow?

Hi Aunty B,

We have a great business but both my partner, Dave, and I are lazy; yet we want to expand our business along the East Coast of Australia.

Do we get more staff first or do we find a Business Manager who can find the staff and keep them moving? Dave will be an excellent operations and quality controller; my expertise is gaining the jobs and selling our business. We have an excellent financial controller who is also creating a database of every property manager we can find. We only have a web page that has not really been advertised; currently our clients are finding us.

We are scared to advertise, as we do not think we could handle the enquiries. We are scared of staff, as we have had a very bad previous experience that ended with me having two heart attacks and still having to pay the staff member thousands to go away.

Currently Dave and I do every job ourselves and that has to stop – so what next?

How can we grow?


Dear Steve,

Well, if only we all had your problems. Let’s have a look: you have a good business with so much demand that you are scared to advertise because you would then have too much work.

But you have had a terrible experience with an employee and are scared to hire.

Step one is to put that experience behind you. We have all had terrible experiences with employees. So what! Get over it. The reason? Most employer experiences with employees are terrific. Hiring staff and watching them develop is one of the most satisfying parts of running a business.

I think your next step is to ask an experienced businessperson in your industry or area to act as a mentor for a few months. You can find a mentor through government services. Or you could approach someone you know. You might need to pay them – or offer them a contra arrangement. But work with them on where to expand, how to expand, who you need and how to find them. Make sure that Dave does extensive reference checking. Have strict contracts in place. And feel optimistic. Maybe your mentor could sit in on the interview.

For what it is worth, I think you are mad to think of expansion up the coast at this point.

What you need to do is build your website, advertise and hire some local people to do the work. Build a much more solid base at home. Once that is established, it is far easier to expand.

You also need to work on your health. Are you fit? Is your diet the best it can be? Why are you letting a spat with an employee threaten your health? Get things in perspective by having a few sessions with a shrink (and that is not a euphemism for the pub).

Oh, and one last thing. Don’t be greedy. If you want to attract the right sort of person, tell them of your expansion plans. Get them excited. Paint the picture. This is a company going places and they can go on the journey with you.

And that can mean paying them more than you planned.

Good luck!
Your Aunty B

To read more Aunty B advice, click here.

Email your questions, problems and issues to auntyb@smartcompany.com.au right now!


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