Running a startup is all about small teams, long hours and wearing different hats. Doing more with less is a point of pride for a lot of CEOs, but there comes a time when you can’t afford to wait for VC money before expanding the team. After all, Microsoft may have started in a garage but it didn’t stay there for long.

So, what are some signs it’s time to bring someone else on board?

The first sign is that you've sprouted extra limbs.

1. The CEO Is Always On A Sales Call

If they’re out there closing deals why is spending an entire day with clients a bad thing? A) They’re neglecting other items that may be costing the company money. B) Someone focused on sales full-time could probably be winning even more business.

Luckily, sales is the most cost-effective function to hand off. A capable salesperson is - by definition - someone who makes you more money than they cost you. If there’s enough demand to keep your CEO on the phone all day you should see a massive return on an investment in a sales force.

2. Your Development Team Is Redesigning The Website

Or the CEO is writing his own press releases. Either way, if there’s enough happening behind the scenes that you’re recruiting everybody to pitch in on the marketing effort there’s probably enough to keep someone busy from 9 - 5. Even if someone on the team has a marketing background, it’s not going to help unless they’ve got the resources to leverage it.

A modern marketing plan involves so many moving parts that it can be difficult for one person to cover all the angles. If that person also has to find funding or QA the latest version it’s basically impossible. Adding someone to the team that either brings all that expertise or complements what you already have will give you the freedom to stop fighting fires and start driving traffic, demand and revenue.

3. You’ve Missed Your Last Two Release Dates

Missing a release window is never a good thing but it happens now and then. Problems start to arise when it becomes a pattern. It doesn’t matter whether it was an internal deadline or publicly announced; if you’re not delivering on time there are a lot of options to consider and expanding the team should be one of them.

Good developers don’t come cheap, but being proactive with your hiring means you won’t be scrambling to find a replacement when the ones working 17-hour days get headhunted. Besides, if you don’t get the product to market in the first place everything else becomes a moot point.

Of course, these are all subject to your financial situation and there will be times that the only solution is to cinch your belt a little tighter and push your nose even closer to the grindstone. Just make sure you’re doing it because it’s the right decision and not because it’s romantic to run your startup on pocket change.

If you can think of some other signs that it's time to expand, feel free to share them in the comments below! To stay in touch with Martyn Bassett Associates and get notifications about everything from job postings to new blog entries, follow us on Twitter or connect with us on LinkedIN

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