Power in (Fewer) Numbers: 10 Reasons Why a Small Staff Leads to Big Success

October 10, 2017

For many entrepreneurs and CEOs of small businesses, growing a company is often equated with inflating staff numbers. While operating lean may have been the modus operandi at the onset of business, there’s no reason why that mentality should fade once things pick up and times become more prosperous. Here are the ten reasons why maintaining a small, talented team is key to success for employees and employers:


  • The 80/20 rule

The secret to a successful startup is following the 80/20 rule, or, the Pareto principle, when it comes to staffing. Think of it this way: if same core group of employees (the 20%) are always the most productive and carry the weight of everyone else (the 80%), why waste company resources on anyone but top talent? Having a small team is not only beneficial from the company’s standpoint of efficiency and speed, but also many other advantages for employees and talented staff who want to grow.

  • Potential for growth

For an ambitious individual looking to grow within his or her chosen industry at a relatively quick rate, working within a smaller team could be ideal. While good work and dedication should shine through regardless of staff numbers, those who make the decisions in an office with fewer employees can more easily notice an individual’s unique skill set.

  • Slow and steady

Staffing at the exponential speed of the growth of any industry, but specifically tech, is futile for a startup. Because new ideas and technologies emerge faster than a company can put out and vet applications and interview for specific fields of specialty, rushing to staff up could not only cost startups valuable resources and additional financing, but also the loss of productivity.

  • Finding a mentor

Much like an influential teacher from youth, having a workplace mentor cannot only help employees learn more quickly, but also keep them motivated to continue performing to the best of their abilities. Oftentimes, at larger organizations with hundreds or more staff members, individuals may not be able to have that personal face time with a potential workplace guru, leading to complacency.

  • Red tape rigmarole

There’s nothing that can slow down productivity more than bureaucracy. Increased staff numbers equate to more emails, space, supervisors, procedures and a longer time from getting from point A to point B. Great ideas are not necessarily the product of a large group of people, but rather, the right group of people.

  • Taking responsibility

One of the greatest advantages of operating with a small, talented staff is that each member of the team takes complete ownership of his or her tasks. Because there are no superfluous staff members waiting in the wings to pick up the slack, everyone becomes accustomed to taking responsibility for delivering the best work possible.

  • Improved morale

Oftentimes, employees feel their potential is lost in larger companies, and as a result, are less inspired to work hard. For example, imagine a soccer team with 45 people on the field instead of 11. When every single player’s actions have a direct effect on the other, each player has to be accountable so that the team can achieve its goal. With 45 players in a crowded field, 34 of them would be looking at the 11 wondering what they should do next.

  • Hiring talent

With fewer positions to fill, employers can really take the time to hand select not only the most qualified candidates, but also those who they feel will be a good fit among the existing tight-knit team. Doing this allows the most talented individuals to emerge and realize their potential for growth, creating a symbiotic relationship.

  • Reduced office politics

While there’s no way to fully eradicate the oft-tiresome game of office politics, with fewer staff, employers can expect fewer squabbles which distract from productivity and can contribute to low office morale.

  • Consultants as an extension

Instead of hiring internally for every specific need, think of how adding to the team by external means could work. A good example of this would be hiring a law firm. If you need legal advice from a diversified team that specializes in everything from employment law to IP to corporate law and litigation, it would be difficult to find one firm that excels in all of them, let alone hiring the attorneys as internal staff.

As businesses expand and become more profitable, the natural inclination for many CEOs is to show growth by hiring without abandon, eagerly filling positions that might one day become redundant. What entrepreneurs should keep in mind, however, is that the number of staff does not determine success, and the old adage – quality over quantity – should be a mantra to live by.