Growing pains, Business owners change roles as operations grow
By Austin Light CHARLOTTE — The day Ilan Paltrow realized his business had grown too big for his comfort was the day he walked into one of his four bike shops and an employee asked if she could help him. “It was very frustrating because I was expanding, doing more work, but making less money,” said Paltrow, who now runs just one shop, Bicycle Sport in Myers Park. “And I wasn’t doing the things in my business that I wanted to do.” Paltrow’s growing pains are common for small businesses, he said, as the addition of employees, functions or locations triggers changes to an owner’s role. Several local business owners cited the addition of employees as a threshold that carries particular ramifications. “When you get to about 20 employees, you get to the point where there is a hierarchy, and the leader can be disconnected from the employees,” said Mary Tribble, owner of event planning company Tribble Creative Group. “You start spending more time working on your business and less time working in it.” Tribble now has eight employees, down from a high of 17. Michelle Menard is president of Choice Translating, which has 15 employees in Charlotte and in Lima, Peru. She said the topic of employee growth is an important one among business owners and often comes up at entrepreneurs’ groups. “Growing can be difficult because it’s about more than bringing on people, it’s about changing habits,” Menard said.