Angie's List started out as a one-person shop. Today it employs more than 1,000 people who help serve more than 2 million paid households. Hicks bases her advice on personal experience as well as on experiences shared with her by other business leaders.
"Being smart about growing your business involves more than simply hiring the right people," she says in her weekly tips. "A business can try to get too big too fast or be tempted to move in too many directions. Stay true to your company's core mission."
Growth can mean hiring additional crews, taking on new partners or other actions that will affect the sole proprietor's role. Hicks suggests business leaders ask themselves some key questions before they publish ads for new hires.
1. Do you want to stay small and in-charge?
2.If you choose to expand, are you good at managing people?
3. Would you be happy having to answer to an investor?
4. Would you be satisfied if employees did the lion's share of hands-on work with customers while you ran the operation from the office?
5. "Angie's List has been a catalyst for some businesses to expand in major ways. But other top-rated companies choose to stay small," Hicks said. "Make the decision that's right for you."
3 Tips for Growing Wisely
1. Know yourself. People start businesses for many reasons, including the desire to be their own boss, to pursue a passion, and to experience the satisfaction of creating value for customers. Being clear about your personal motivations will help you manage growth intelligently.
2. Plan ahead. In business, it's important to look forward, thinking about the organization's next step. The last thing you want is to have to bring your company to a halt so you can put systems in place to handle growth. But be sure to strike a balance between attending to what's in front of you and what's six months to a year down the road.
3. Don't lose focus. It's crucial to keep an eye on the future, but don't get distracted. A business can try to get too big too fast or be tempted to move in too many directions. Stay true to your company's core mission.
Angie Hicks is CEO and founder of Angie's List. Follow Angie Hicks on Twitter @Angie_Hicks. Angie's List helps consumers have happy transactions with local service professionals in more than 720 categories of service ranging from home improvement to health care. More than 2 million subscribers across the U.S. share their consumer experiences and use Angie's List to gain unlimited access to local ratings, exclusive discounts, the Angie's List Magazine, the Angie's List complaint resolution service and information about how to make the most of their home improvement projects.