My company sells and implements customer relationship management software. My headcount seems stuck at ten. Why is this? That’s easy: there are only three reasons.
1. Growth has been meh.
The U.S. economy has been growing, albeit in fits and starts and will likely end the year with an annual growth rate of about 2-3%. That’s meh. That’s me too. I stopped growing in high school. And my business stopped growing back in 2008. We’ve been busy. We’ve been profitable. We’ve been active. But new work hasn’t exactly been falling from the sky. The activity that we once saw way, way back before the recession is but a figment of my imagination. We are battling for every job, negotiating every task and always searching, searching, searching for more stuff to do. After a long twelve month struggle I’ll see my firm’s revenues tick up a bit this year, but not a ton. And certainly not enough to increase headcount.
2. And why would I when I can outsource?
In 2014, outsourcing is easier than ever. There are more independent professionals out on their own then ever before. There are great sites, like Upwork, Freelancer, and Guru to find qualified independent contractors to do my marketing, bookkeeping, sales, development and other technical work. Heck, there’s even Craigslist where I can find great independent contractors (of course, careful screening here is a must!). The choices are vast. Instead of suffering through the regulatory process of hiring and committing to a new full time employee who will need benefits, vacation, hand-holding and diapering I can hire a contractor with specific skill sets to work on specific jobs for specific clients and who only does specific things.
Then I pay them a specific amount.
No employment rules. Just a contract between me and her. If things get busier I give her more work. And if things slow down I just…stop.
3. Today’s tech tools are making everyone more productive.
Because of the power, growth and increasing speed of the cloud (which is just another glorified way of saying “Internet” by the way) I’ve got new tools to help get things done quicker, better and faster. When I outsource I can choose the best people no matter where they are and connect with them on Microsoft Remote Desktop, gotomypc or Join.me. I can hold meandering and time-wasting conference calls for free. I can lean on project management collaboration apps like Basecamp and Box. I can standardize on Microsoft and Google’s online office applications or share documents on DropBox. We can do orders from the subway, check inventory at the baseball game and complete our time sheets while snuggling with our significant others in bed (OK, I don’t recommend the last but you get my drift). The cloud and all the mobile apps and devices that have rained down on us over the past few years has changed the way we do business. We are getting more done with less.
Hiring? I’d like to. Maybe in 2015. But I really need to see the ROI. Right now, I can manage my company and even grow it a little without bringing on any new bodies. Apparently, I’m not the only one feeling this way.