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Determining the right time to add non-front office personnel

I had an interview recently where the question "how do you determine the right time to add staff in non-operational roles?" Seems like a simple question but I wanted to pick the brains of the Proformative community. In your collective experience, how have you modeled or game-planned around non-sales and front-office operational hires in early-stage companies?

Answers

Topic Expert
Regis Quirin
Title: Director of Finance
Company: Gibney Anthony & Flaherty LLP
LinkedIn Profile
(Director of Finance, Gibney Anthony & Flaherty LLP) |

The justification of non-operational and non-sales staff is related to how they support the efficient operations of the firm through either supporting sales or filling a compliance/regulatory need. For example -

a) Accounting people bring in $0 revenue. I know I need one when I need to close a risk or I can bill and collect faster. I am willing to give up some of my profit if I am better able to manage my cash flow through faster collections.

b) Mail room people are straight expense. However, I will advocate bringing another mail room person into the firm, to avoid a revenue producer spending hours on a post office line.

c) IT personnel are usually paid very well and offer no revenue. However, did you ever have a critical system go down. A business owner should be able to quickly tell you the lost revenue for every hour a system is down or when a sales person sits on the phone with a Help Desk.

Every position can be reviewed based on the value they provide vs. the cost of the position.

EMERSON GALFO
Title: CFO
Company: C-Suite Services
LinkedIn Profile
(CFO, C-Suite Services) |

The answer is tiered according to the company lifecycle....

If you are in the very early or early stage, the determination is...minimum level of headcount (body that will or can do the necessary work...among other duties and responsibilities). The question is, is anyone doing the job or can we "function" without the added headcount. This saves your limited (and often non-existent) capital

As the company ramps up, the criteria turns to anticipated volume of work. As you grow, you will have a general idea of the FTE required to do the work vis a vis amount of work. You will then add employees as close or as late (training included) as possible before the volume reaches a certain point.

As the company matures (with sales and have the capital necessary via succeeding rounds), the timing does not matter much and you can add people 3 or even 4 months in advance of the need.

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