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Nine Clear Signs Your Business Is ‘Outgrowing’ Its Original Startup Team

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When you first started your business, you may have found a few trustworthy team members to back you up. As the business is growing, you may be noticing your original startup team isn’t aligning with your overall vision or perhaps you’ve simply “outgrown” the need for the roles you hired them to do. This misalignment can ultimately lead to stagnation within all facets of your company as well as an unhappy workforce.

So, how do you know when it’s time to bring in fresh perspectives? Nine members of Young Entrepreneur Council offered some signs that may indicate your original startup team is no longer suitable for your current business direction.

1. The Company Structure Has Changed

It’s not a matter of “outgrowing.” It’s about talent, change and choice. Early-stage companies benefit from talented generalists—people who can wear a lot of hats and wear them well. As a company grows, its structure must change. Roles tend to become more specialized. Some original employees may find they prefer to grow in a specialized fashion, and their talents support it. These folks stay. Other original employees may find that their talents are more for being a generalist, and their best path to grow in this regard is to join another startup. It’s not that they’re not growing; they’re just growing in a different direction! The way to identify issues is by looking at things objectively—separating roles and functions from people. – Ben Landers, Blue Corona

2. Innovation Is Stalling

When the same ideas and initiatives begin providing diminishing returns, it’s important for managers to first prompt the team to come up with original ideas to implement. If those fail, try another brainstorming session. Teams are still salvageable with leadership helping to course correct. But if, despite their best efforts, the innovation still stalls, then it’s likely time to bring in fresh talent who could, in turn, trigger more creativity in tenured staff. – Firas Kittaneh, Amerisleep Mattress

3. Employees’ Interests And Passions Are Plateauing

If you’re in a position where you’re having to consistently reeducate, handhold or reignite passions for a veteran employee, it may be a sign they’re plateauing. Of course, there will always be coaching and teaching involved in managing employees, but when they’re no longer invested in furthering themselves within your institution’s evolving landscape, it’s likely time to start discovering new perspectives from different hires. It’s a natural part of the lifecycle of any business, and it doesn’t make them a bad hire or you a bad boss. Working relationships come to the point where they’re not mutually beneficial anymore, and that’s when it could be time for both parties to start anew. – Emily Stallings, Casely, Inc.

4. You’re Unable To Keep Up With Demand

Suppose your business can’t keep up with demand even after optimizing workflows and productivity. In that case, it’s a sign your business has outgrown its original employees and may have to look for new talent. Many small-business owners tend to start with a lean staff and fit employees into positions they might not be qualified for as the company grows. And if your business doesn’t have time to spare to educate existing employees and get them up to speed with the new demands, you may need to bring in new talent who are better equipped for the positions. – Benjamin Rojas, All in One SEO

5. The Business Has ‘Leveled Up’

Staffing a fast-growing business is difficult, especially since the talent you might hire as an early-stage startup is often not the talent you’d hire as a well-funded, established company. I like to think of the hiring process in terms of a video game analogy. At each “level” of the game, the business will face increasingly difficult challenges. As the company progresses, I need to “level up” my talent to meet said challenges. Imagine playing a video game and meeting a level 10 “boss” with the skills and tools you had in level one. You wouldn’t last long! The same is true in business. It is important to hire and onboard the skills and talent appropriate to each level of your company’s continued growth. – Cooper Harris, Klickly

6. There’s A Steep Increase In The Learning Curve

One sign that your current employees aren’t meeting your needs is if there’s too much of a learning curve for completing essential tasks. Up to a point, multitasking is fine, and it’s also good to train people on the job. However, if there’s too much of a gap between someone’s current skills and what you need, it may be time to hire someone who specializes in this area. It’s common for a business’s needs to change as it grows or starts offering new services. You have to make an assessment of whether your employees are capable of making this shift with you or if you need additional help. – Kalin Kassabov, ProTexting

7. There’s A Struggle To Understand Your Customers

If your original employees have lost touch with what your growing customers want and struggle to meet their needs, then you have a clear sign that you need to train them or hire new people. As your business grows, you’ll start to deal with more diverse groups of people who differ in not only demographic factors, but also locational ones. You need to cater to new and unique needs and offer customizations. If your first employees don’t seem to understand your newer customers, then a fresh pair of eyes can bring in some much-needed help. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

8. Your Team Can’t Change Their Mindset

A startup mentality is necessary for a new business that’s attempting to establish itself in a competitive niche, and your employees should reflect that mindset during that stage of your business. But when you successfully establish yourself and priorities shift into maintaining the status quo while pursuing consistent, stable growth, a new mindset is required. Some employees won’t be able to handle this shift in mentality or will be unwilling to do so, which is a sign that your company may have outgrown them. – Bryce Welker, Testing.org

9. Employees Are Overperforming Or Underperforming

One sure sign that your business is outgrowing its original team is when you notice evidence of both overperforming and underperforming. There will be individuals who avoid growth, change and innovation because “that’s the way things have always been done.” As a result, fewer new ideas will be brought to the table, potential problems will be underestimated or overlooked and overall growth will stall. At the same time, some employees will do their best to pick up the slack and will feel run into the ground. They will feel stressed and anxious as they do their best to hold things together or push new ideas that get little to no support. If you’re beginning to see signs of this happening, it’s definitely time to nurture and build up your team to maintain its value to your organization. – Blair Thomas, eMerchantBroker