All of our employees are back to work full-time again, and now we're talking about adding a few contractors to handle any extra work that comes up. Such is the life cycle of the consulting business. I'm happy we talked with all the employees this summer about our financial condition, and even happier that nobody left.
I'm sure glad we're not a public company. I'd hate to have a bunch of shareholders constantly harassing me about keeping our profit margin up to a certain level during difficult business times. While they may think that's what they want, this experience reinforced for me that approach is a short-term approach that isn't good for long-term business.
If there was anything good about having employees on the bench, it was that it gave us more motivation to go out and sell our services, knowing that we had employees on the bench who could service new accounts immediately. When everyone is billing 100% or more of their time, a consulting firm doesn't have anything to sell (unless you can find more good employees), but when there's bench time we suddenly had a "product" to sell again.
As I think about this, if all I had to do was add new projects without having to worry about hiring great employees to fulfill them, this business would be a breeze. For me, selling a new prospect on our services has to be at least 100 times easier than finding great employees.
While the business is in great shape again, I feel completely worn out, and I hope to take a little vacation time soon to recharge the batteries.