I’m losing two team members this week.  One is quitting, the other is taking leave indefinitely.  

With the timing, I’d expect something like this to be an indicator of a problem in the business.  But because of the circumstances, I don’t think this is the case (yet.)

It’s a bit of a mixed blessing.  I hired both people this year and both needed more management to get them where we needed their role to perform.  In the meantime, I have still been carrying their cost.  With them out of the picture, it makes profitability easier.

Though profitability is easier, now our capacity has diminished.  And we still have a lot of work to accomplish before the end of the year.

People are often the largest cost in a small business.  But they’re also what produces most of the value.  These two people were good hires and I think given time they both could have contributed to the value of the business…  Except they didn’t.  

They were two expensive bets that I made on growing the business that failed.  

The silver lining is that we have an apprentice that we’ve been developing that is at the point where he can step up and replace some of the lost developer capacity.

There are lots of lessons in this experience for me, but a big one is about optionality.  

Having the apprentice available as a backup, provided us another option in getting work done.  The loss in capacity is still there, but it’s not as bad.  

As I look to replace the remaining capacity, I’m thinking a lot about how to create more options for people available to help, especially low cost anti-fragile style options.  

Not every investment pays out. Knowing that, we should be ready for it.

Featured image is King Arthur’s knights, gathered at the Round Table by Évrard d’Espinques (1470). Used under public domain tag PD-US-expired.