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Who Should I Hire First?

  • Anthony Coombs (Basic Member, Splendies)
  • Jun 25, 2020

Congratulations! You’ve started your first subscription box. Whether this is your first company or you’re a seasoned entrepreneur, you’ve taken the necessary and sometimes daunting steps to take your business from mere concept to reality. If you’re anything like me, you’ve spent countless hours late at night thinking of what products to procure, which myriad of different software options to use, and how the website should look.

Without knowing it, you’re now not just the CEO, but the product manager, software engineer, and likely the fulfillment specialist all in one. Hey, that’s a lot for your LinkedIn profile. And it will probably be this way for the next few weeks or months.

Through hard work and dedication, you’ve made your first sale, and hopefully a few more, and you’ve started thinking that your business might have legs. And although you’re a CEO, COO, and CMO, you will realize that you simply can’t do everything on your own. You need help! But where to start? You’ve figured out the basics of how to use the software. So development help isn’t needed. No one knows your customer better than you, so who better to respond to them when they have a question? Marketing? You’re the best that there is. But you know that being a one-person shop won’t allow you to grow. So, where to start?

By this point, you’re probably proficient at some aspects of the business, good at others, and a downright expert in some. The hardest thing an entrepreneur will do is letting go of parts of their business that have taken so much time and effort to master. You rightfully feel that no one can source and negotiate products as you do; no one is better equipped to handle an issue for a customer better than you. So you know that you need help, but where do you start?

There’s one true solution but not one answer. This isn’t a riddle or something to make this more complicated than it needs to be. Allow me to explain. If you’re pretty good at everything, then where do you need help? The answer might seem to be that your first hire should be someone that compliments your deficiencies. If you feel that you’re not good at marketing, you need to run out and hire a rockstar marketer. If you know that you have trouble fulfilling orders, you must find the person who can get your orders out on time. This isn’t, actually, the right answer. Time and experience will build you into a better entrepreneur, and as long as you’re proficient in these areas, you will find a way to survive. It’s part of the struggle, and you’ll become better at the business aspects where you lacked skill.

Your first hire should be for what you hate to do the most.

And here’s why. As a business owner (especially for the first time), we all have a shelf life for this. Aren’t you amazed at the Jeff Bezos or Bill Gates of the world? They just keep going and going.

There’s a reason why so many businesses fail and fail quickly. The person running the show becomes overwhelmed with the many decisions that come with the business’s day-to-day operations. You run out of steam. What keeps you going is finding new solutions to problems that are often never thought of in the planning stage. What keeps you going is the learning of something new. The more energy you have to devote to the parts of your business that continue to fuel your passion, the longer you will stay enthusiastic every single day. Nothing drains that enthusiasm more than doing something that you absolutely hate to do.

Hire for what you want to do the least. Our first hire was in Customer Service, and Customer Service is still a cornerstone of my company. I’m grateful for that hire, and that person still works for us to this day. I, personally, think that I’m one of the best customer service agents out there. If there was anything in my business that I was proficient in, it’s Customer Service. I wrote a handbook that we have every new member of the team master before they get started. I can exhibit incredible patience; I am extremely thorough with my responses and care for the customer. It also takes a lot out of me.

I remember one day early in the business, I woke up at 7 AM and spent about 5 hours answering customer service emails. Since it was only noon, I had the entire rest of the day to work on the product, the website, and other aspects of the business. Would you know that after the five hours I had lunch, took a nap, and never got to any of the other things that I wanted to do? I was tired. I could work on the product for an entire day and never get bored. I could work on marketing for days and never get frustrated. But those five hours (who am I kidding, I was tired after hour #1) drained me. It wasn’t just five hours out of my day, but it affected me to where I couldn’t accomplish other tasks that I so desperately wanted to. And that has a cumulative effect.

That’s the solution: Your first hire should be for what you don’t want to do anymore; it will extend the life of your business. The specific answer will vary from entrepreneur to entrepreneur. Only you know what you genuinely don’t enjoy doing. Make sure, to be honest with yourself because it’s very easy to hire for what you think you’re not good at doing. But if you’ve gotten this far, trust me, you’ll figure that out too. Becoming proficient is part of the fun for an entrepreneur’s curious mind. We want to learn. One year I had no idea how to source products; a few months later, I’m an expert working with freight forwarders, customs, and packing lists. That’s cool. Doing something that you don’t want to do isn’t the goal of any entrepreneur. Hire that person who will enjoy doing what you don’t. It will strengthen your company and free up your time to work on things that you really enjoy, making your experience more fun and enjoyable.

Written by Anthony Coombs
Basic Member, Splendies