Expanding Doesn’t Always Mean Hiring More Staff


1. become or make larger or more extensive.
“their business expanded into other hotels”
synonyms: increase in size, become larger

“We’re doing really well, we’re going to expand”

You’ve probably heard this phrase before, and I’m guessing it makes you think about growth, size, and numbers. A company growing from just the founder to employing 3 staff. Or a business with 1 office, now having 2 or 3.

Expanding a business is a tell-tale sign a company is doing well, it’s almost a status symbol that people place on you, as a mark of success.  I can remember growing up in a pit village in Nottinghamshire, our Chip Shop (did the best gravy and chips) was featured in the local paper for expanding into the next village along. “Barry, The Fryer of Two Villages” was the headline. It was a particular good headline as the village I’m from was reportedly Robin Hoods ‘hangout’ so all the Pubs and local tourist ‘places’ were ‘Fryer Tuck’ this and ‘Robin Hood’ that, (It’s a local pun, but hats off to the writer)

I can remember thinking about how successful Barry must have been to have two chip shops; he must have been loaded, rolling in it. I was an overweight 13-year-old at the time that spent all my paper-round money on chippy lunches so this resonated with me.

Even back then, seeing someone expand their business, to a 13-year-old, was memorable. Hiring more staff, having another premise, more customers and above all more income.

Now I am older and dare I say wiser, I have come to realise expanding isn’t always about the second property or hiring more staff. Sometimes just expanding the variety of services you offer, diversifying skills or reaching a different market can be just as fruitful as more staff or increasing the size of your premises.

freelance communication

I’ve personally ‘expanded’ recently, and not just my waistline! (I still love chips and gravy)

As well as being the co-founder of Skwish, a productivity tool for freelancers, I am also a small business owner. I have a small agency style consultancy business that historically has just been a couple of us. Recently, though, after customers expressing interest I decided to expand my business. We now have 5 particular skill sets instead of the 2 we had before. I haven’t retrained, I haven’t hired anyone nor have I spent ANY money in doing this.

All I have done is created a team. I have reached out to like-minded skilful people that would complement my offering and teamed up with them. So now, when advertising my company’s skills and expertise, I can include the additional skills that I collaborate with.

I did a talk about this collaborative way of marketing yourself recently and a very confused looking chap asked the following question,

“What’s the point? You’re just finding work for others”.

“So what” I replied I went on to explain that If I am able to provide a service to a client but also source additional services for him, then that’s a win for the client, and a win for the person I collaborate with but more importantly, it’s a huge win for me. I now have a client that will come back and a colleague that will be recommending me to their network. The value might not be cash in your hand there and then, but that doesn’t mean it’s a loss.

So by doing this, I have expanded into a further set of services with no PAYE or Workplace pensions to worry about.

Don’t get me wrong, when the time is right, hiring new staff is most certainly on the cards, and I hope it is for you too, that’s how we all grow as a nation, by creating jobs. Please remember though it isn’t the only way you can expand. I’m also not convinced expanding like I have is going to have the same status symbol as ‘Barry the Fryer of Two Villages’ but it works for me, my clients and my network.

About the Author

Chris Williams is a small business owner and Co-Founder of Skwish. Chris is also a Council member of IPSE (The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed).

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