Small businesses have learned to run “lean and mean,” and according to the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), almost 80 percent of small businesses did little to no hiring during the summer.

Refraining from hiring means a lower cost structure, but when is the belt too tight?

“No new employees, no new ideas, no new projects – too many entrepreneurs have become paralyzed by fear and uncertainty,” says Michael E. Gerber, best-selling author of The E-Myth: Why Most Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It and the creator of The Dreaming Room, the world’s first incubator for entrepreneurs.

Some things to keep in mind:

Don’t get so caught up in today that you don’t lay the groundwork for tomorrow.

Modesty is often seen as a virtue, but if you’re an entrepreneur, it’s a tragic flaw. What if Steve Jobs’ ambition was to make electronics “a little bit better?” Thousands of entrepreneurs see their business as a means of doing their work autonomously. If they just get by — and view this as a win — their modest success may be a tragic handicap.

Self-employment is one thing; a thriving business is something altogether different.

An entrepreneur starts with an idea, but too often the idea is: “I have a talent (or technical skill); I’ll build my business around that talent.” While this may create the means for self-employment, it might close off avenues for growth. When a business owner trusts no one else to get the work done, he or she might not have enough time to develop new ideas, products and opportunities to grow. Hire people who can replicate the technical aspects of what you do so that you’re free to explore, experiment and test.

Make sure everyone is working toward the same goal.

A small business thrives when all parts contribute to the success of the whole. If your employees are working toward different goals, then they’re not only not playing as a team or moving the business forward. Foster creativity, enthusiasm and energy by clearly communicating the dream and the importance and value of each person’s contribution toward it.

Any entrepreneur who wants to be successful must continue to implement creativity in order to innovate products and services. Getting bogged down in the mundane because your staff is too lean ultimately stunts creativity. Be sure to have the time and energy to tap into that spark that initially set you along the path of entrepreneurship.

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