Building your staffing firm requires trust — particularly in yourself as a leader. You have to fully believe in your vision to grow your business from an idea into something profitable. That trust is critical for a staffing startup.

But eventually, it has to evolve. Over time, that self trust has to become team trust.

Staffing Is Full of Entrepreneurs
There are more than 19,000 staffing firms across the US, according to Staffing Industry Analysts. Entrepreneurship is widespread in our industry. So is the big-growth challenge.

Of those 19,000 firms, only 3.7% (700) generate more than $25 million in revenue. Less than 1% have grown beyond $100 million. As a founder of a business that has long supported the staffing industry, I know how a leader’s personality and influence are deeply intertwined with the business. That can be a help — and a hindrance.

When I first began my business, I did a lot of the work myself, and I saw the same from other staffing firm founders who were our clients. They were building sales pipelines, nurturing client relationships. They were making placements. They were onsite helping onboard talent and checking in with clients. These are some of the best stories in staffing: founders who roll up their sleeves, make calls and help the team fill every last job order. It’s a common staffing industry rallying moment.

If you choose to remain a niche business, that approach can continue to work beautifully. Founders can join on every sales call. But, if you want to grow in significant ways, founders, owners and CEOs have to change. This is where team trust comes in.

Stay Small or Trust Fall

The shoulder-to-shoulder model drives momentum for a small business but is a hindrance when you want to grow into a mid-size (and eventually large) staffing business. When clients are used to having the founder in the room, they expect you to be part of the process. That can’t scale. If client satisfaction and growth are directly linked to your presence, your business doesn’t have the hours or bandwidth to grow.

Next-level growth means trusting your team members to meet daily challenges, own decisions and push the business forward. Only in this way can your organization achieve true expansion.

Here are three ways to nurture the team trust that is vital to growth.

1. Spill the Secret Sauce. As your business expands, it becomes even more important that everyone in your business — not just the founder — can express what makes it unique. Take extra time to make sure your team learns your firm’s origin story, becomes fluent in the challenges that have defined you, know your values and understand your why. Run a CEO boot camp and teach your most important stories so rising leaders can begin to embody the brand the way founders often do.

2. Scale Like You Mean It. When staffing firms are small, they’re famous for getting work done any way they can. They are wonderfully scrappy. But those scrappy traits can hinder growth if the business forgoes putting in processes, systems and technologies that create efficiencies and enable scale.

Too often, staffing firms will pay lip-service to the idea of scaling but rely instead on their hardworking teams and quick-hiring capabilities to mask gaps in real systematic upgrades. The danger? Substandard delivery, team burnout, clunky candidate journeys and unhappy clients. Instead, build systems and processes as you grow. Trust your teams to own them.

3. Pick a Partner (or Two). The talent landscape is rich in associations, innovators and highly specialized vendors. Leverage partnerships and connect with associations that can aid, and even guide, your growth. Entrepreneurs can be great at going it alone. Growth-minded leaders know when to build partnerships to accelerate their own expansion while learning from the kinds of organizations they hope to grow into.

Ready to trust fall into growth mode? Give your team your best secrets, a scalable toolset, good partners, and the trust needed to stretch, struggle and succeed.