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MARK EVANS

When the time comes to stop flying solo Add to ...

The decision to start a business is a momentous step, but it is probably just as big a move to take the leap to expand from being a single-person operation.

It is a huge decision because it means not only paying other people but also being responsible for managing them, providing them with a place to work, and letting them take over parts of the business.

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It also means the end of entrepreneurial liberty. As a solo operator, you report to no one, and no one reports to you. It provides complete professional independence, and the ability to establish your own rules, make up your own hours, and, in some cases, work where you want, when you want.

But at some point, many people come to a juncture at which it no longer makes sense to be a one-man or one-woman band.

It could be that the business is poised to grow or already experiencing strong growth, and more people are required to get things done. For some entrepreneurs, there are other considerations.

For Brian Lambie, president of Red Brick Communications, the decision to expand beyond running a single-person business from a home office had as much to do with the desire to work with other people than the need to grow his public relations and communications business, which specializes inworking with municipalities.

“I needed to work with other people,” he said. “I didn’t want to go back to the corporate cubicle but wanted a place where I could exchange ideas.”

Given how big a step it can be to expand, some entrepreneurs may want to ease their way into growth by using freelancers or part-time people to see if there is enough work to support a larger staff, and whether they like the idea of working with other people.

This approach also provides an entrepreneur with valuable experience managing people, as well as being a good way to assess whether the people doing the work would be good candidates to become full-time employees.

In some respects, going from a single employee to two employees can be as big a move as going from two to 10 employees. It means changing how and where business is done, and creating a new corporate operating structure and culture.

But like many moves that can initially appear daunting and intimidating, the leap from small to bigger can, in hindsight, seem like a relatively minor step once you have decided to go for it.

Special to The Globe and Mail

Mark Evans is the principal with ME Consulting, a communications and marketing strategic consultancy that works with startups and fast-growing companies to create compelling and effective messaging to drive their sales and marketing activities. Mark has worked with four startups – Blanketware, b5Media, PlanetEye and Sysomos. He was a technology reporter for more than a decade with The Globe and Mail, Bloomberg News and the Financial Post. Mark is also one of the co-organizers of the mesh, meshmarketing and meshwest conferences.

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