QUESTION:  I am a one person operation looking to grow my business. However, my current clients require a considerable investment of my time, which limits my ability to prospect for new business. What can you suggest?

ANSWER: In every business one reaches a point where servicing the needs of existing customers consumes more and more time. The good news is that you have developed a customer base that, hopefully, supports and ensures a steady stream of income.

When you reach that point you have to make a decision to maintain or grow your business to the next level. Bigger is not necessarily better if what you already have provides for your family and allows you to sleep well at night.

If, however, you want to grow, it cannot be at the expense of your existing clients. It makes no sense to secure a new account if, due to lack of attention, you lose an existing one.

You are at a crossroads where you must take a leap of faith and hire a sales person or customer service representative (CSR) to handle the day to day needs of your current clients.

Bringing on a new sales person is always a hit or miss proposition. If you’re lucky he or she will be great and bring in lots of new business that will more than pay for their salary. If not, you can spend a lot of money with little or no return on your investment.

Since you are the one who has grown the business to its current level, it makes more sense for you to be responsible for securing new accounts. You should hire a competent, personable, and detail oriented person to be in the office and service your existing customer base.

Once you have found and trained a good CSR, you should take the time to introduce him or her to your clients. Explain to them that while you are more than happy to attend to their needs the demands of your growing business requires you to frequently be away from the office, and the CSR is quite capable of answering most of their questions.

In conclusion, if you want to grow, plan to do what you do best and bring on someone else to ensure all client needs continue to be handled in a prompt and efficient manner.

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Gray Poehler is a volunteer with SCORE Naples. Their counselors can assist and offer advice concerning management issues facing your small business. Counseling is provided FREE of charge to all U.S. citizens and legal aliens.

If you would like to register for counseling or have a question, please call 239-430-0081 or fill out the form located at http://naples.score.org/mentors. A counselor will contact you within 48 hours. Please include your name, email address and a contact phone number