Barista Media | Coffee Talk

Coffee Talk with Barista Media’s Founder, Larry Stevens: Look before you Leap

I sat down with the founder of Barista Media, Larry Stevens (who also happens to be my husband), to get his thoughts on running a small business and the dangers of expanding too quickly.

Hiring too quickly for expansion is akin to a “get rich quick scheme” that lands in your lap. They always seem great at first but never, ever work out.

We’ve all been told that managers should delegate more. I’m not one to disagree with centuries of historical precedent — how else could your business grow if you are the only one handling all responsibilities? We’ve seen it before — a small company becomes successful and doesn’t realize they need to expand until that need is urgent.

The company jumps into action, leaping before they look; passing along responsibility to people who are unskilled and/or hiring individuals who aren’t equipped or may not have the knowledge, to release them from these tasks. The result: chaos. failure. hiring remorse.

This happens much more in the world of sales (specifically media sales), where expansion seems to be a priority. I’ve had clients who have seen success based on the CEO’s or Founder’s ability to sell their products who feel that they need to “take it to the next level” by hiring outside consultants or full time sales people to build upon their success. Don’t get me wrong, hiring with growth in mind is vital for any successful organization, but only if you wait for the right person to come along. It’s not enough to hire a warm body with a resume and good references. You need the right fit.

Unfortunately, most companies don’t wait. After months of having salespeople pound the virtual pavement trying to land new clients, the company retains only the clients that were a part of their initial success.

It’s not enough to hire a warm body with a resume and good references. You need the right fit. — Larry Stevens, Barista Media

Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule, and these exceptions are where growth-minded companies focus their energy on finding the right people to represent their brand in the marketplace. Success in these cases is almost always the result of a more methodical and customized approach, where the people hired are passionate about their products and have the skill set to successfully handle and thrive at their specific tasks at hand.

That brings me to my take-home advice for this column: take your time with expansion and don’t be afraid to spread yourself a bit thin until the time is right. When building a business, you are assuming the inherent risk that you’ll end up working long hours over holidays, late nights, weekends and vacations, but this is the tipping point where your hard work ignites that flame of success.

“Don’t be afraid to spread yourself thin until the time is right.” — Larry Stevens

This notion really only can work if you have the luxury of time. If you need to ramp up quickly or fear that you’ll need to shut down, then by all means get to it. That said, still give it some thought and try your best to hire the right people — it’s the right thing to do for your business as well as the employees you bring on. Nobody wants to be on board a sinking ship, even if they might be the cause of it.

Agree? Disagree? Join the conversation. We’d love to read your comments.

Originally published at on February 20, 2020.

Bookishly Yours, by Cara Stevens, features articles about writing, musings on life, attempts at humor, and interviews with kidlit authors and illustrators.

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