I expanded my business from 4 to 16,000 people in 7 years. Here are 5 common mistakes new business owners make when expanding, and how I’ve avoided them.

I expanded my business from 4 to 16,000 people in 7 years. Here are 5 common mistakes new business owners make when expanding, and how I've avoided them.

Embracing Growth: Avoiding Common Mistakes as a Small Business Owner


Sudhir Agarwal, the founder of Everise, a successful outsourced customer service company, has shared his experiences and insights in scaling up a business. From starting with just four employees in Singapore to now employing over 16,000 people in eight countries, Agarwal has learned valuable lessons along the way. In an interview, he outlines five common mistakes that small business owners often make during the expansion process:

1. Quality over Quantity: Hiring the Right People

When businesses are in their early stages, the need for manpower becomes pressing. Many owners rush to hire employees to meet demands, but this haste can lead to more costs and decreased morale in the long run. Agarwal emphasizes the importance of building a top-quality team from the start.

Drawing on his 25 years of experience in the outsourcing industry, Agarwal leveraged his network and reached out to industry leaders to join him in his vision. By prioritizing cultural fit and performance, Everise has maintained a below-average attrition rate among its employees.

2. Employees First: Prioritizing the Human Factor

It’s easy for business owners to get caught up in the pressures of running a company and neglect their most important asset—their people. Agarwal made it clear from the inception of Everise that ensuring employees’ financial well-being was paramount.

Despite acquiring a loss-making business initially, Agarwal ensured that no employee misses a paycheck. Even during challenging times, he dipped into his own pocket to honor this commitment. By putting employees first, Everise has cultivated a strong sense of loyalty and dedication among its workforce.

3. Open Communication: Breaking Down Hierarchies

Agarwal recognized that valuable feedback and insights can come from all levels of the organization, especially from frontliners who interact with customers daily. One of the driving reasons for starting Everise was to eliminate unnecessary bureaucracy and ensure open channels of communication.

At Everise, there are no unnecessary layers between top managers and employees. Agarwal encourages everyone to have a direct line of communication with him. This approach fosters a culture of transparency and empowers employees to address any blocks or challenges they encounter, resulting in happy employees and satisfied customers.

4. The Power of Teams: Moving Away from Micro-Management

Micro-management is not sustainable as a business grows. Agarwal learned this the hard way in 2018 when he realized the limitations of overseeing every detail. Success is built on strong teams and capable leaders.

Agarwal’s mantra is to hire individuals who are smarter than him, especially when it comes to selecting leaders within the organization. By surrounding himself with talented individuals, he has been able to learn from them and leverage their expertise. Strong leaders attract good talent and contribute to the overall success of the company.

5. Balancing Work and Play: Cultivating Social Connections

In the pursuit of growth, business owners often neglect to cultivate meaningful connections with their employees. Agarwal believes in investing time in getting to know his people on a personal level. It’s not just about business—it’s about enjoying the journey together.

He organizes after-work social events, such as dinners and drinks, to foster a relaxed environment where employees and business associates can connect outside of formal settings. This approach not only strengthens bonds within the company but also expands professional networks.

As Everise continues to thrive and expand, Sudhir Agarwal’s insights serve as valuable guidance for small business owners aiming to navigate the challenges of growth. By prioritizing quality hires, empowering employees, fostering open communication, creating effective teams, and nurturing social connections, business owners can overcome common pitfalls and embrace success in their journey of expansion.