“That guy is making more money than he ever has,” my dad said.
I was home, on the family farm, visiting my folks and getting caught up the local events. A farmer from a nearby town came up in conversation and I asked how he was doing.
“Oh yeah?” I asked, “What’s different?”
My dad told me that this farmer used to run an operation with twenty to thirty “hired hands” working a large swath of acres. Now, on the verge of retirement, the farmer had collapsed the operation down into just a handful of fields, a select few crops, and one hired man.
He shrunk his team and grew his profit.
Several years ago, a friend of mine built a small team, leased a fancy office space, and worked like a madman trying to drum up work. Eventually, he burned out. Then he fired everyone, got rid of the office and equipment, and ran his operation remotely using contract laborers.
Like this farmer, he also made more money than he ever had.
I recently encountered research on agencies that showed that the ones with the highest profit margin, as a percentage, were teams of less than 10. Their profit margin percentage was 2x more than teams of 25 – 50 (Bureau of Digital – State of Digital 2022)
Smaller and simpler is often more profitable for an equal amount of revenue when compared to a larger complex operation.
Your goals and environment should guide your strategy in regard to team size. If you like working on the front lines, a smaller team will often deliver your greatest return. In this way, trimming down can be a legitimate path to growth.
Featured image of atoms and molecules from John Dalton’s A New System of Chemical Philosophy vol. 1 (1808) used under public domain.