Building a Team – From 1 to 20 Employees in 18 months part 1

David 0:00
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Ken 0:46
You’re not going to do them. And if you do get them done, it’s going to be a grind for you and it’s going to drag you down, it’s going to wear you out because you don’t like doing them.

David 0:55
If you’re just getting started, and you hire someone with five years experience, like oftentimes, like they’ll be able to teach you and educate you and show you best practices. And that’s what we’re talking about. It’s like bringing talent in and putting it under one umbrella.

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Intro 1:10
Welcome everyone to the firing the man podcast a show for anyone who wants to be their own boss. If you sit in a cubicle every day and know you are capable of more, then join us this show will help you build a business and grow your passive income streams in just a few short hours per day. And now your host serial entrepreneurs David shoma and Ken Wilson.

David 1:33
Welcome everyone to the firing the man podcast on today’s episode, Ken and I recap, building a team where we go from one to 25 employees in 18 months. Ken What’s going on man?

Ken 1:45
David, how you doing? Man? I’m excited to be in the podcast studio today. It’s been it’s been a while since we taped. So we’re coming in hot and fresh and have some great content for the listeners today. You know, building a team who started this, you know, four months ago, 36 months ago, we should have started at 48 months ago, it really excited with where we are. And I’m excited to share kind of our process, how we how we were able to accomplish this and probably more importantly, what mistakes we’ve made along the way and share those with the listeners. And so they do not make those same mistakes they can they can skip the to the headline.

David 2:19
Absolutely, absolutely. And a little bit of background on the team that we did build. So at the beginning the episode I said 25 employees, I should say 25 hires, we currently have 18 active employees. And so there have been some people have come in part time or no longer with the company but 25 independent decisions on hiring some of them good, some of them bad, which we’ll talk about today. So anyway, let’s let’s talk about why why did we build a team?

Ken 2:44
Yeah, absolutely. And so as every entrepreneur knows, you know, as you scale, and as you want to do more your to do list is really long. You know, I know at some point, David and I we are our to do lists for multiple pages, and it’s a daunting thing to look at. And so in order to free up your time for you to work on the things that you’re a superpower, you need to find help. And so to me, that was kind of one of the main things, and also, you should enjoy what you’re doing. You need to have time for your family and for your friends and have a life. And not just this that whole adage of, oh, I want to grind out, oh, I’m doing 20 hours a day, you know, and I that’s not healthy. And it’s it’s not a good way to operate. You’ll burn out really quick. And so yeah, if you’re up against that wall, then it’s time to begin.

David 3:32
Absolutely. You know, I would say it’s really snowballed. So one thing that I noticed is when we hired our first employee, there was a number of things that I was not good at, or not doing a good job of, and we hired someone that was good at those things. And it was such a, I had a sigh of relief, like this is wonderful. I didn’t like doing it, I wasn’t good at this task. And now someone else is doing it. And they are good at it. And they do enjoy it. And this is just a win win all around. And so, you know, I think that that’s a key thing. When you look at ecommerce in specific, there are so many different things to do in an E commerce company. And most I’ve met one person that’s good at all of them. And so I know like, with us, if there’s 25, like core tasks of running an E commerce company, I may be good at five of them, okay, at five and bad at the rest. And there are people out there that are really talented and in certain areas. And so yeah, that’s just a little bit of background on why we built a team. So

Ken 4:32
one quick thing, David to identify as something I’ve learned along the way is if something is on your to do list, and it stays on there for a week, two weeks or three weeks, you’re not going to do that. And if there’s a multitude of reasons why, maybe you’re not good at it, maybe you don’t like it, whatever the case is, that is a perfect opportunity to find to say identify those types of tasks, and then hire out for those because you’re you You, okay, you’re not going to do them. And if you do get them done, it’s going to be a grind for you and it’s going to drag you down, it’s going to wear you out because you don’t like doing them. And the last thing I would add on, you know why we built a team is, you know, David and I, we had professional careers before we started this company, we our intention, there was, you know, we dabbled around as a as a side hustle for a while, and then knew, hey, this has traction, this is something I want to do long term. And so our intention is to was to build a large company and scale it, and everybody has a certain capacity, a ceiling of capacity. And once you reach that ceiling of capacity, you can’t do any more. There’s only so many hours in a day, and you only have so many skill sets. And so you can only grow to a certain level, if you want to scale higher, you have to get help.

David 5:45
Absolutely. You know, there’s a saying, if I want it done, right, I’m going to do it myself. And I think that that saying is not helpful in running business, because they’re like you mentioned, there’s only so many things that you can do in a day. And so I have yet to meet an entrepreneur that’s grown a significant, you know, a company that is significant on their own. Right. It’s just it’s not possible. And so So we’ve talked about why let’s talk about how, how did we do it? What are what are some of the areas that we started with?

Ken 6:13
Yeah, absolutely. And so one of the you know, as you know, David and I are in multiple masterminds, we have lots of friends in the space. And we heard a lot of good, a lot of good things about hiring from online jobs.ph. And so we thought, you know, this is our first resource, let’s go ahead and try that. Now. We tried a couple different agency routes here and there, we weren’t impressed within like that route, however, online jobs.ph, that that is a good fit for our culture, we found a lot of talented people on online jobs.ph. And we have a kind of a system and a process in place. Now early on, it was a it was a struggle. As we as you know, we’ll we’ll share some more later on in this podcast about that. But yeah, but one of our number one resources for finding great talent is online jobs.ph. And also, I would say that a good portion, probably 80% of our company is remote, fully remote, we do have a we do have a division that is a local division, it’s a manufacturing division, but the rest of our company is fully remote. And and that is a really good fit.

David 7:11
Absolutely. And for those of you that are not familiar with on line jobs.ph, this is a job posting site specifically in the Philippines. And there’s the same good help is hard to find. I disagree with that. I think if you agree with that, you may be looking in the wrong spot. And you may consider looking to the Philippines we have our team is wonderful. But it just it’s filled with first class individuals, hardworking individuals, really smart, educated people. And we like we have we just got done with our team Friday team meeting. It is a pleasure just to jump in here what’s going on from all the different departments and I can’t say enough good things about our hires off of online jobs.ph. You know, later this year, as we get into 2023 planning, we’re actually flying our operations manager from the Philippines to the US to have a corporate retreat and really focus on planning for 2023. And so yeah, great hires from this website, can’t recommend it enough. You know, another area that we hired in this is more for local talent was out of the local newspaper, and generally hear people talking about newspapers are dying. And that may be the case in some areas. However, in Jefferson County, Missouri, there’s a newspaper called The leader, and it is excellent. Like it has awesome articles comes out once a week, awesome articles. Awesome. Just all around. It’s great. It’s often like a topic of conversation like, Hey, did you catch the leader this week? Did you see this? I love it. And one thing that we’ve done is we’ve posted jobs in there. And I have this working theory that if you are sitting down every week to read the newspaper, I would say it is more likely that you have your life in order. Whereas in I look at some of the people we’ve hired out of that newspaper, and they’ve been on time responsible, they do what they say they’re going to do. They’ve been wonderful. I cannot say that same thing for Facebook marketplace. For instance, I would say if you’re on Facebook marketplace, you may have your life together, but you may not. And I really do feel this way. And so I think about it, think about running a classified ad, you know, the leader, I think it’s like 20 bucks, and we get great Referrals Out of that. And so, you know, I would say good,

Ken 9:28
ya know, whenever David mentioned this to me a while back and he goes, Yeah, I’m going to put an ad in the paper and I thought, okay, let’s you know what, David? There’s no stupid idea. Let’s try it. He put it in paper and and have had some great hires. And I was really shocked. So if you’re looking for local, if you’re in a rural area could be a great idea or even a big city, you never know try it out in your area and see,

David 9:52
I have had very good experiences with it. So and then one of the last areas where we found talent was internal referrals from other have team members. And you know, we have some team members that are also part of like masterminds or Facebook groups. And they’re often people in their network that they may have worked at in an old agency or whatever. And we always share with the team, no referral is better than a bad referral. However, they have oftentimes worked with these people in we’ve gotten great referrals from that medium of hiring. And so that’s, that’s been all three of those methods have been very successful.

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Ken 10:27
Yeah, absolutely. And as I as kind of think of it as a funnel, you know, you’ve got the bottom of the funnel, you’ve got your perfect candidate, and the more pieces that can go on the top of the funnel, yeah, you’ll have a better chance of getting getting an A a player for your team. And that’s really it. That’s all you all you want is a player’s awesome.

David 10:46
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Ken 11:39
So moving on to the next section here and this process. And so we have a list out here of all of our hires, and we’re going to hit on some some some of our key hires that that added the most value to our business. Now, having said that everybody on our team adds value. Some of these were either skill sets that David and I didn’t have, or some skill sets that we actually had hired out to an agency and paid a ton of money to and that we add that added value by hiring internal and then stopping, you know, the expense paid out to an agency. And so what I would say here, before we get into this is, you know, every business will be different, every single business will be different. And so this isn’t a cookie cutter to apply to your business. But hopefully you can gain value on David and I kind of describing how we went through in hired at what time. And the reasoning behind that is plugging gaps in your business. You know, David and I both have different skill sets. And we lack certain skill sets, too. And so the some of these key hires are gaps and holes in our in our company that we’ve we filled that add a tremendous amount of value.

David 12:46
Absolutely, absolutely. So as we were prepping for this, we we listed out all of our hires in order and the list total is 25. But one of our first hires was a an Amazon account specialist. And I think, especially if you’re working a full time job, and you know, this is your side hustle, this is a really important hire. And we currently have two people in this position, but they’re doing a number of things listing optimization, customer service, you know, uploading photos, creating new listings, kind of like the general maintenance, when something gets taken down, they’re filing cases. And they are, I feel like kind of a core hire, or one of the first hires somebody should make if they’re in this business. And, you know, what I would tell you is, you can certainly find people and train them on what to do. Or you can hire somebody with a little bit of experience. And that was what we did. And, you know, they brought to the table talent that we didn’t have, which was wonderful. And I think as we hire, we try to think of what talent can we bring in that we don’t currently have. Because if they’re if we have to train them from day one, then they’re going to know all the things that we know. And we’re generally implementing all the things that we know how to do. And so it’s really nice to like, bring someone in email marketing is an example. We hired an email marketing expert they want they’re coming in delivering value, and and they’re way better at email marketing than we were. Yeah. And so anyway, Amazon account specialist, I think was key.

Ken 14:15
And just to quickly add on to that piece, David, I think the first person we hired for that came in, I believe, with five years experience in in Amazon, and so that they came in at nearly an expert level of the systems. And so we didn’t really have to train them on on a whole lot. We had to train on our business and our products and different things, but they came in really high level, which really helped us. And so that was a great value. And I think we’ve used that to hire a lot of our other key players is hiring experts. Like you mentioned, David. And I think, importantly, as that was one of our earliest hires, and it allowed David and I to get out of the day to day checking, where we weren’t answering buyer messages. We weren’t checking orders. We weren’t checking if our listings were down. And we were able to work on other aspects of the business, and to elevate and to and to grow the business. So I think that that key hire was was crucial for, for allowing us to have that time to do that.

David 15:12
Absolutely. And to and to add to this, we hired somebody that had more experience in E commerce than we did like, and that’s something I think our listeners can think about is, if you’re just getting started, and you hire someone with five years experience, like oftentimes, like they’ll be able to teach you and educate you and show you best practices. And that’s what we’re talking about. It’s like bringing talent in in putting it under one umbrella. And so now that has been wonderful. So Ken, what’s another position that we’ve hired that has had a huge impact on our business?

Ken 15:42
Yeah, absolutely. And these are no, no, wait, these are not no. So the next one I’ll talk about David mentioned a little bit earlier as an email marketing expert. And so this is actually a recent hire for us. This person we’ve helped we’ve hired in we have, we’ve done some email, we’ve dabbled in email marketing, and I’m not a communicator, you know, it’s not David’s skill set. It’s not my skill set, we kind of like hobbled along, because we had you as an entrepreneur and economy were 25 hats. And so by hiring an expert, just in a few short months, we’ve seen a tremendous spark and email marketing, sales traffic. And so this is one crucial hire where we probably should have, we probably should have made this hire 12 months ago, or 18 months ago. But I’m really glad we have this person on the team now. And you know, some of us some of the statistics in E commerce, I’ve seen companies, large companies are reporting revenue from email is anywhere from 20 to 50% of their total revenue. And so this was a gap and a hole in our business that we did not have. And you know, more to come on this, we’ll probably do some more, we’ll probably do an entire episode on this and share some results after six months or 12 months. But definitely, definitely it was a crucial hire for us that that’s that’s going to add a tremendous amount of value.

David 16:56
Absolutely. Absolutely. You know, another position that we hired, and we actually have done this twice is hiring an operations manager, the first one we hired didn’t quite work out very well. We’ll discuss that a little bit later. But currently, we have an operations manager, that’s an absolute Rockstar. And this has been really key in helping us keep the company on track, identifying strategic initiatives and then implementing them. You know, one thing we hear a lot about in masterminds and talking to our friends in this business, he has developed a standard operating procedures, that is something that neither can nor I are very good at. And it was one of those things that constantly got pushed to the bottom of the To Do lists. And so I would also say it’s the Colby a test, right, that we took cobia, Ken and I are both tend to be more on the visionary side of things. And we are complemented or by an implementer. And we found somebody who’s a very strong implementer in terms of developing systems, processes, workflows, and that’s allowed us to just grow. I mean, it’s been wonderful. And as I look at building out the team, we would not have been able to do it as fast or as successfully without an operations manager. Because when you’re having daily check ins with every one of your team members, you know, by the time you make it to all 20 team members, you know, entire week is gone by and you haven’t gotten any anything done. So the operations manager has been key in helping us manage our teams and really develop into a professional organization.

Ken 18:26
Yeah, absolutely. And to add a couple, you know, things onto that, you know, we think Operations Manager We hired once we got above about 10 employees 1012 range, it was a really good fit for our company. And I can share an example of kind of how David and I operate we, we have a team around us. And it’s just imagine a gun turret just shooting and spinning. And that’s kind of how David and I are like, we have, we have these ideas. And we’re sending out tasks to our team, just boom, boom, boom, boom. And in our team is like drinking from a firehose from both of us, right? Coming out all these different directions. And now with an operations manager, we’re funneling everything through through the operations manager, and then it gets funneled out to the team. And so it’s really kind of settled, it’s settled everything down and made everything flow properly. And also, that our team is not drinking from a firehose, they know exactly, you know, what the process is, what the task is, they’re able to act and so it was definitely a crucial hire for us. Right around that, I would say between eight and 12 employees was when it was a good fit for our for our company.

David 19:32
Definitely, definitely any other positions that you are talking about,

Ken 19:36
you know, one one more position that’s on this list, that was a crucial hire for us that added a tremendous amount of value was a PPC Manager. And for for our company, you know, we have multiple entities and so we previously we’ve probably used I don’t know David four or five different PPC agencies over the last six years, and it was a good fit at the time, you know, as we were small if you’re if you’re selling on Amazon, you have to be good at that PPC is the name of the game, and it’s getting even more crucial. Amazon is finding out that their revenue coming in from their advertising department is, is golden. And so they’re scaling that anyway, you need to be good at PPC, we were spending 1000s, we were spending a lot of money on agencies a lot of money. And we decided to, you know, we were at a, at a certain level, I think we hired up we brought PPC internal when we were maybe at 15 employees in that range. But again, we had multiple entities that were paying multiple expenses to for PPC agencies. And so financially, it made sense for us to bring this in house, if you have one company, it might not be a good fit for you to do that. But for us, it made sense financially, as well as our experience when working with PPC agencies, our history normally, and I interviewed over 30 PPC agencies. So this is not coming from me spitting out numbers, which I like to do sometimes, but not now, every single PPC agency that I talked to their account managers have anywhere from 10 to 25 clients that they’re working for. And so even at the low range 10 clients you’re getting, if they’re working 40 hours a week, you’re getting four hours of their time on your account, if your account manager has 25 accounts you’re getting on our data is the best one at math, you’re getting like an hour and a half a week, or you’re not getting very much time. And so that was really crucial for us, we thought, why are we why are we paying this agency, all this money, and we’re literally getting four hours per week. And so it was it made financial sense, it made a great sense for the company. And we’ve had really good results on that. And so this was a crucial hire. And we’re like, we’re going to do a case study on how we transitioned from agencies to internal, we’re probably three months in six, three months in right now. And so we want to get a full 12 months in. And we’re gonna go over how we did that because it is very tricky. PPC is the pulse of an Amazon business. And so drastic, anybody knows PPC, those drastic changes are not good. And so we had a very methodical way how we we rolled off from the agency and put it internal. And so we’ll we’ll have a whole episode on that. And also describe the impact of the business money, what did we save money? Did we waste money? What was the impacts and so but to round that out, PPC Manager, that was a crucial hire for a company.

David 22:25
Absolutely. And I’m not gonna go into detail on all these other positions. But just if you’re curious, who’s on this list, social media manager, video editor we’ve had, we have a manufacturing division. So we have seven people that we’ve hired for that a web designer, Content Editor, as well as a team of writers, and a controller, data scientist, another video editor, and then an email marketing expert, which which we discuss. So you know, as we’ve grown this team, we have needed to lean on a number of tools to manage this virtual workforce. And So Ken, what, you know, out of all the tools that we use, what what do you think you use the most? Or what do you think’s the most helpful?

Ken 23:06
Yeah, absolutely. You know, and this is this kind of in my wheelhouse, I love shiny objects, and I love tech. And so we’ve tested out tons of tools. And we have a list here, we’ll go through, I would say, looking at this list here, probably the the tool that’s helped me the most, and it’s helped the organization the most, I believe a Slack is allowed us to communicate efficiently. We have a pro slack account. And so we we share files, we have connected to our Google Calendar, we have connected to our project management system. So we can do video chats and there huddles, it’s we have different channels for teams, it’s a very robust tool that’s added a ton of value to our team.

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David 23:43
Definitely, definitely, you know, I would say second on this list would be Asana, and this is a what would you call a sauna? So project management tool. Yeah, project management tool. And this has been great for setting up recurring tasks, setting up workflows or projects that involve multiple people. And you know, what I’ll say with Asana is just by getting an Asana subscription, that doesn’t solve your problem. You got to use it, you got to really, and that was something I think it has taken us some time to, like fully implement Asana. And I, I still feel like we have some progress to make in terms of fully utilizing this tool. But I would say I like it. And it’s something that I think we’ll continue to use on on a go forward basis.

Ken 24:26
Yeah, absolutely. Add one thing to add on there. As you’re right. We’re always going to make improvements in every and everything we do. Asana is really good. We’re starting to scratch the surface on workflows now. And then also cross functional teams. And so we can start a project add in different team members, and they have workflows that they can hand off tasks to other teams and circle out a large workflow to complete a project. So it’s been really nice.

David 24:50
Thank you, everyone for tuning in. Stay tuned next week where we cover part two of this episode where Ken and I detail, onboarding and offboarding when we Eat, decide to hire and fire and a bunch of other great stuff concerning this topic. Thank you everyone for tuning in to today’s firingtheman podcast. If you liked this episode, head on over to firingtheman.com And check out our resource library for exclusive firing the man discounts on popular ecommerce subscription services that is firingtheman.com backslash resource. You can also find a comprehensive library of over 50 books that Ken and I have read in the last few years that have made a meaningful impact on our business, or that head on over to www.firingtheman.com/library Lastly, check us out on social media at firing the man in on YouTube at firing the man for exclusive content. This is David Schomer

Ken 25:45
and Ken Wilson. We’re out

David 25:46
before you go fun fact for all you Amazon sellers out there when you start selling in international marketplaces, all of your reviews come with you. At the beginning of this year, Ken and I sat down and talked of ways that we could double our businesses in size and landed on international expansion as our number one initiative this year. We partnered up with Kevin Sanderson from maximizing ecommerce and he has made the process an absolute breeze walking us step by step through the process. If you want to grow your revenue and reach new customers head on over to https://maximizingecommerce.com/fire and connect with Kevin Sanderson today. Now back to the show.