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Hiring the first employee for your agency

This SAGA Member Webinar is available only to individuals with active memberships. Login or join to gain access.
Webinar presented live on February 16, 2023

One of the biggest – and most challenging – steps that agency owners take is hiring their first full-time employee.

Taking on the responsibility for another individual’s salary is no small matter, but you do it because you know that your agency will be stronger for it.

In this webinar, Chip Griffin explores the things that you should consider before you decide to make your first hire. 

He also explains the steps that you need to take to prepare for that first employee – including payroll services, benefits, employee handbooks, IT needs, and more.


The following is a computer-generated transcript. Please listen to the audio to confirm accuracy.

Okay, let’s go ahead and get started with today’s webinar, hiring the first employee for your agency. I’m Chip Griffin, the founder of SAGA, the Small Agency Growth Alliance, and today we’re gonna be talking about the things that you should be thinking about and how to go about actually bringing on the first employee for your agency.

Before we get started, I do have a few housekeeping items that I’d like to just touch on as I usually do. First of all, all of the webinar replays for this and other webinars that I’ve done are available for SAGA Pro members. You just go to the SAGA website and if you’re a member, you can log in and watch the full replay library.

With all sorts of different topics, whether it has to do with working with clients, business development, managing employees, all those kinds of things. You can use the q and a function on your screen. It should be at the bottom probably for most of you. And if you click on that and you can ask a question, I will answer questions live at the end of the webinar presentation.

And the q and a is for live attendees. If you’re watching this after the fact on the replay, you won’t have the q and a section. But you can email your questions to me at chip@smallagencygrowth.com and you can also hop into the free Slack community to have conversations there with other agency owners about the topic here, or other things that may be of interest.

If you’re talking about this webinar on social, I’d encourage you, encourage you to use the hashtag agencyleadership. And if you’d like to learn more about SAGA, just visit smallagencygrowth.com. Okay. With the housekeeping items outta the way, let’s talk about what we are going to be covering today.

We’re gonna be talking about how you determine that it’s the right time. To hire an actual employee, and I’m talking for US owners, a W2 employee, someone who’s on payroll as opposed to what we would call in the US a 1099 or a contractor or those kinds of things. And obviously the rules for all of these things vary from country to country and even within some of the, the states there are.

Nuances that you’d need to understand. But for our purposes today, we’re talking about payroll employees. We want to talk to you about how you determine who your first hire should be. We want to think about the administrative things that you need to be looking at as you’re bringing on an employee, because obviously there are requirements, there are rules and regulations that impact your decision making process as well as how you move forward in the hiring process and the management process after that. So we’ll review some of the the key things that you should have on your mind. We talk about, we’re gonna talk about recruiting, how you can find that first hire that makes sure that it’s someone who’s a good fit, who can do what you need them to do to help move your agency forward.

And then finally we’ll talk about how you set that new hire up for success and some of the things you need to be thinking about from a management and retention standpoint, even as you’re in the hiring process itself. So let’s start with when to hire. And there are a number of resources on hiring as well as the first employee hire in particular on the SAGA website.

So just use the SAGA website search engine up in the top right and just type in first hire and you’ll find lots of good resources. There are previous podcasts and videos and articles that will help you. And in particular, there’s one questions to ask before you make that first hire, and so that will go into a little bit more detail about some of the things that I’m gonna cover here.

But the first thing that you need to think about before you get into hiring, and that’s probably the most obvious one, which is workload. But it’s not just that you have work for this person, it’s the amount of work that you have for the hire as well as the type of work that you have for this new hire.

And so you wanna be thinking about those things as you’re determining is now the time, should I wait three months? Should I wait six months? And the workload is important because you need to understand how it fits in with the work that you are doing for the agency. Because typically this first hire is gonna do one of two things.

They’re either gonna be taking workload off of you, or you’re gonna be transferring work from an existing contractor to this employee. So you have to scope out what the work is that this person would take on and typically, A lot of agencies will be thinking about converting a contractor to an employee or shifting work from a contractor to a full-time type role.

And in general, if you can define very clearly half of that person’s workload, so 20 hours, then it makes sense to have that person as an employee instead of a contractor. And we’ll talk a little bit more a little bit later about some of the gotchas that you want to think about in the actual hiring process when you’re defining the role.

But those are some of the things that you want to be thinking about. Make sure that you’ve got enough work for this person that you’re bringing on, because otherwise you’ll sit there and they’ll idle, and that’s not good for them. It’s not good for you, and certainly it’s not good for the bottom line.

Speaking of the bottom line, you need to look at cash flow before you decide to hire somebody. You need to make sure that you have enough of a cushion that if you have some routine hiccups in your business, and I’m not talking about something like what happened in March of 2020 where you lose half your portfolio, but routine hiccups where you lose a client or a client is slow to pay, that you have enough cushion that you can meet payroll.

and you need to be able to meet payroll, not just for the employee, but for yourself. Your solution can’t be that you don’t pay yourself. That’s a mistake that a lot of agency owners get into, and it’s not something that you want to do because you want to make sure that you are in a position where the work that you’re doing is being fairly compensated.

Otherwise you become miserable in the business. So make sure that you’ve got the cash flow to support both of you in the event of a routine hiccup. And in addition to that, you want to be thinking about. How is your role going to change? You need to have that employer mindset and that employer mindset breaks down into a couple of different things.

The first is the most important hurdle that I think you have to overcome before you decide to hire, and that is that you are now responsible for someone else’s livelihood, you’re responsible for paying them so that they can put food on the table for themselves or for their family or those kinds of things.

And as a result, it can make you fearful of some of the important decisions that you have to make. And so the hurdle that you have to overcome is that if you’re willing to hire, You have to be willing to fire, and by fire I mean fire for cause, fire for poor performance, or lay them off because you don’t have the business to support their role anymore.

And I think that’s the thing that tends to hold back agency owners the most. They’re afraid of what it means to have that level of responsibility. and they’re afraid that they might have to have that kind of a difficult conversation and make that kind of difficult decision, decision at some point down the road.

So you need to work with yourself and understand that that is a very important piece of the puzzle. But part of the employer mindset is also how your role is changing and you are now becoming a manager, and more importantly, a mentor to these new employees or this new employee that you’re bringing on board.

And so that’s a very distinct role from what you may have had up until this point. And the longer that you’ve been on your own as the agency owner and the sole employee, even if you’ve had contractors, it changes your role and you need to be prepared for it. And this can also be scary for a lot of agency owners, but my, my belief is that most agency owners are up to the task.

And it’s an opportunity that is, Taking the risk on because it allows you to more effectively grow the business. That first hire is the most difficult one. Once you have gotten that first hire under your belt, it becomes so much easier down the road. And I know in my own case, I was very reluctant to hire early on, and I probably inhibited the growth of my first agency because I didn’t make the decision to hire somebody and instead decided to hold back on growing the business in order to make sure that it was something that I could manage myself and with a group of contractors that I had assembled.

And so those are the kinds of things that, that you don’t want to allow it to hold you back unnecessarily, assuming you cross all of these other hurdles. And finally, the last thing that you need to think about, but it’s very important, is what is the impact on you of hiring? This really goes into the timing decision for two reasons.

One is the positive impact that it can have on you as the owner. Obviously, having someone who works for you can help you to change your role, and I’m a big believer in, and anyone who listens to me knows I talk all the time about the importance of building an agency that works for you and helps you to accomplish your goals.

It generates the income that you’re looking for, but as importantly, it gives you the kind and amount of work that you want to be satisfied with the business. And so how will this employee help you to make those positive changes to your own role in order to help you get what you want from the business?

But there are some, I don’t wanna call them negatives, but there are challenges for the owner that come with hiring an employee. And obviously they’re the ones that stare you right in the face. The, the basics of having to manage and, and the challenges that come with that, and that’s a topic that I talk about a lot in articles and podcast episodes.

But the thing that you may not be thinking about, but you need to think about is the impact on your own compensation structure. What do I mean by that? And we’ll talk about this a little bit more later on when we talk about some of the administrative burdens, but there can be an impact on your own benefits, particularly insurance, health insurance, life insurance, retirement benefits, all of those kinds of things.

And some of those may need to change or evolve as you bring on an employee because there are rules and regulations that. In many cases that you have the same options provided to your team as you have on your own. And many owners who don’t have employees do things to give themselves platinum healthcare benefits.

And you know, maximize retirement contributions, decrease tax burden, all those kinds of things, that’s all fine and good, but you may need to make some adjustments to that. Once you have an employee and you’re now part of the same benefits structure, and that’s something that you wanna make sure that you understand and you’re calculating that in your decision to bring on the hire at this particular moment in time.

So now that we’ve covered some of the things to think about, about when to hire, we’re gonna assume that you’ve now crossed that threshold and you said, yes, I’ve checked that box. I, I know that I want to hire someone. Who should I be hiring? And so you need to, to really think long and hard about what help you actually need.

And it starts with understanding what your own role is. And what you want your own role to be. And so this means that you probably should have been doing some pretty thorough time tracking on your own. You should take my advice that I’ve shared in other webinars and other places about writing your own job description, both what it is today and what it, what you would like it to be.

And then you need to think about, okay, what are the, what are the gaps that I need to fill? How am I going to shift this to the new hire? Because that all goes into the job description that you’re writing in order to recruit this new employee. And so you need to think about what am I taking off of my plate?

What work can I shift from other contractors that I may have into this employee so that I can meet that threshold of filling up at least half of their week with clearly well-defined things today that on day one they will be able to take on and run with. And you need to think about what the future potential is, but you can’t let that get in the way of what’s gonna happen today.

It’s very easy when you’re hiring to say, oh, well, if I have this employee, it means that this will change and I can do this, and if I bring someone who’s got this skill, we can roll out this service. All of those things are valuable and you need to think about those things. You certainly want to keep it in mind, but you need to make sure that you’re making a hire that will actually make a difference Today, particularly for this first one. Your first hire shouldn’t be a role of the dice or an investment in a new line of business.

Your first hire should be someone who can help you turn the business into more than just being a freelancer or a super solo or whatever you want to characterize yourself as now and moving into building a true business with real structure behind it. And you need to be realistic about what you can actually find in a single employee.

And this is probably the biggest thing that I see agency owners trip up on when they’re making their first hire. They put together a job description that is calling for a jack of all trades, someone who is equally as adept and interested in doing administrative or repetitive work, as well as giving strategic advice or having lots of independent judgment that will allow them to work with, you know, relatively independently from you and won’t need a lot of day-to-day management. It is very difficult to find someone who can check all of those boxes, so be realistic about what that individual can do and be realistic about the difference that some of these things can make.

Sometimes we put together a job description that is just full of all of the things that we don’t want to do as the owner. And that’s fine. We also need to think about whether that is truly going to fill up enough of their week, and it’s gonna truly relieve enough of our burden that we’re able to reinvest our time in a more meaningful way.

So be really clear with yourself about what you’re looking for. About what they will do for you and about how likely it is that you can find that person. Is it a unicorn or is this a commonly described role that people will understand and there’s a good pool of candidates for? It doesn’t mean that you can’t be creative.

It doesn’t mean that if you’ve got a great candidate in front of you that you can’t put together some creative hybrid role. But if you start out saying, I want that jack of all trades, those are very difficult to find. And my experience is that most agency owners who are more clear and more specific in what they’re looking for in that first hire tend to do better.

And then once you’ve put all of this together, you need to obviously put it to paper. You need to put it out there and start advertising the role. And we’ll talk a little bit more later about how you go about doing that, how you run a proper recruitment process for this first hire. But you might also think about writing more than one job description.

Sometimes it can be helpful to go out into the market and look for two, perhaps similar but slightly different roles because you may attract a different pool of candidates and you may be able to then evaluate which candidate is going to be able to help you more in the end. So you don’t need to necessarily limit yourself to one job description.

If you think there are two directions you could go, go ahead and write two different job descriptions rather than trying to write that unicorn job description that has both together in it. Alright, so let’s then move on to the administrivia, the stuff that we all love to deal with. Paperwork, government, bureaucracy, rules, regulations.

I know this is gonna be the part where I put some of you to sleep. But let’s not let that happen because this is important. This is, it doesn’t need to be scary. It has become a lot easier to hire employees today than it was 20 plus years ago when I hired my first employee. And it was easier then than it was 20 years before that.

When I first started hiring employees, we were filling out a lot of forms by hand, mailing them into the government with checks and all that kind of stuff. Now it is very simple. You can go online, you can use services like QuickBooks or ADP or Paychex, and very easily just go in, sign up for their service and start adding employees and they handle a lot of the backend paperwork for you, so you don’t have to do the complicated calculations. You don’t have to record multiple things in your ledger and calculate it and send checks, and all of those complicated things that were just very difficult a couple of decades ago. It’s really simple, but don’t confuse simplicity with being so easy that you can just do it like you would any other application because there are other things you need to consider beyond how easy it is technically to add an employee and to pay them. And so this is why it is so important. Absolutely vital that you get proper professional advice. And I always, you’ll hear me all the time, give the disclaimer, I’m not a lawyer, I’m not an accountant, I’m not a therapist.

I’m none of these things. I may play one on tv. I may give you advice that sounds like that, but it’s not. You need to make sure that you’re talking with professional advisors who understand your particular circumstances, who understand the rules that apply to you for the business of your kind in your geographic location.

And that will help you to make sure that you’re crossing your t’s, you’re dotting your i’s, and you’re not adding any additional problems for yourself by not considering how to hire properly today. And so whether that is talking to your accountant, which I would certainly encourage you to do, You don’t necessarily need to talk to a lawyer.

You could talk to an HR consultant, for example, who is familiar with all of the rules and regulations, and that may be sufficient, but you need to talk to someone who really understands these things so that you can set up the proper structure and make sure that you’re aware of all of the potential gotchas from the get-go.

And so because of the things that you need to think about, there are, there’s another path that a lot of agencies think about particularly when they’re smaller and that’s using what’s called a PEO. A,PEO is a professional, professional employer organization. And you’ll see a lot of discussion of these and I know my go-to HR consultant, Patrick Rogan, who’s been a guest on many of my podcasts and and shows.

He often talks about PEOs and the benefits that they can provide even for agencies of just a single employee. Essentially what happens when you have a PEO and I’m grossly oversimplifying this, but essentially the employee that you hire actually becomes an employee of the PEO, and you have a contract with the PEO for the employee to do work with you from a.

From a paperwork perspective, it’s obviously different from a logistical standpoint. They work with you effectively as if they were a regular employee, as if they were no different than if you were a direct employer. And there’s some real benefits because the PEO provides a lot of the HR infrastructure, so you don’t have to deal with it.

They manage the benefits plans, they manage all of the paperwork and the government filings and all of those kinds of things. Even above and beyond what a service like QuickBooks or ADP will help you with, and so that can be very beneficial to have. The only caveat that I give to PEOs, other than obviously they do cost money, and they don’t tend to cost a ton, they charge you typically per employee, and it’s not an astronomical charge by any means, although it varies from PEO to PEO.

But you’re talking, you know, it typically in the, say, a hundred dollars an employee a month range. Again, rough estimates, so you’re not talking about a huge expense. The challenge that you potentially have with a PEO is that you are subject to their rules when it comes to hiring and firing, and most of them are pretty flexible, but some of them do have more thorough processes that you have to go through that may go above and beyond what your own state may require for an organization of your size.

So you want to be aware of what are the rules that they have in place for you. So you know, how easy is it for you to hire and dismiss employee? You need to, to ask questions about their benefits and what they offer, and the the benefits can be very helpful because in some cases the PEO will have access to benefits that you as a single employee employer may not have access to, and so that can be very helpful.

At the same time, it can be restrictive, particularly going back to what I talked about earlier. If you have your own benefits plans in place for yourself, you may need, you may be required to transfer over to whatever benefits plans are being offered by the PEO. So you want to think about what the impact is of that.

So basically, if you’re interested in going down this route, I would encourage you to explore it. I would also encourage you to ask a lot of questions to make sure that you understand not just the benefits of the PEO, but also any strings that may be attached. You need to think about those benefits in particular because a lot of you are really using those to as additional compensation.

Some of you pay yourselves a below market salary, but above market benefits. And so if you’re not going to be able to do that, you need to figure out how that fits into the mix. And so whether you’re doing a PEO or you’re doing direct employment, that’s something to consider. You want to make sure that you have your benefit programs set up well in advance of when you’re actually hiring. You don’t want to hire, and then go out and try to figure out what you’re offering for health insurance, because most candidates will ask you, what is your benefits program? What do you offer? And simply telling ’em that you offer health insurance, that’s not a good idea unless you’ve actually lined up a particular solution and you understand that it’s economically viable for you, that it fits with what your own needs are and all of those things.

And I would encourage you when you’re thinking about your own benefits, particularly with regard to healthcare, think about what your needs may be in the future. One of the things that you might do is you might say, well, my spouse already has employer benefits. Excuse me. Need a sip of water here.

You may say to yourself, my spouse already has benefits from their employer, so I don’t need to worry about that. Still think about what happens if for some reason those benefits change or go away, and you do need to do something through your business, make sure that you’re still setting it up so that you’ll be satisfied with whatever you put together.

You also need to make sure that you understand the rules of the road for how to be an employer regardless of whether you’re working with a PEO or directly. And a lot of that comes through either asking questions of the advisors that the PEO provides, or having your own HR consultant or other professional advisors who can help you to understand how do you manage effectively, what do you need to set up in terms of employee handbooks?

And there’s a lot of discussions that Patrick Rogan and I have on a couple of our podcast episodes about setting up good and useful employee handbooks. And they don’t need to be super fancy, but you need to have something in place, even with one employee. So think about all those things. Make sure you understand what all those rules are, what you can and can’t do, what you can and can’t require, and those things will really help.

The last thing I wanna talk about here when it comes to administrative things is we’ve talked a lot about the, the rules and regulations as it applies to the employee directly and the hiring process directly, but you also need to think about how hiring employees might impact other things for your business.

And in particular, one of the things you need to understand is the concept of nexus. And this is important because right now a lot of agencies are either fully virtual or thinking that that’s how they’ll generally be because it’s an opportunity to expand your recruiting pool. And I’m a big advocate of expanding that pool by looking beyond your local geography.

And if you do that, you just need to be aware of the fact that if you hire employees in states other than the one in which you are based in which your, your business is located, that can create what’s called nexus. And that nexus may require you to either on the low end file additional forms with that state to register your business in that state, those kinds of things.

Or it can also require you. To potentially pay taxes in those states. So you need to be thoughtful about that. It shouldn’t be a, an absolute obstacle to you, but you want to make sure that you understand what hiring across state lines here in the US might mean. What hiring across international borders might mean whether you’re here in the US or elsewhere.

And just make sure that you’re considering that in the process because it’s, it’s one of those things that I’ve seen some agencies get caught up in after the fact, and you don’t want to let that happen if you can at all avoid it. All right, now that we’ve dealt with the administrative challenges. Let’s talk about recruiting, which is also not easy recruiting, particularly in the current job market as I record.

This is very challenging. We’re, we’re seeing layoffs at large tech companies today in, in early 2023, but that doesn’t mean that hasn’t translated, at least with the agencies that I’ve talked to in an expanding pool of candidates for their job opening. So it is difficult to find good hires. So let’s talk about where you should be looking for your recruiting.

and I think the first place that I always recommend is start with your existing relationships. People that you know, if it’s someone that you know or that’s someone in your immediate orbit, whether that’s your immediate family or if you’ve got contractors, people that they know. That tends to be your first, best place to find employees.

And more often than not, when I’ve hired people from within that universe, they’ve worked out. They haven’t all been rock stars, but they’ve all been good or almost all have been good employees. It’s certainly a much higher success rate out of that circle than others. And why is that? That’s because you may know the person already so you have a, a sense of each other that will signal to you that it’s a, a good potential working relationship.

But it also, if you get a recommendation from existing contractors, or as you grow existing employees, they’re not going to recommend bad fits because they don’t want to be known as the person who sent in a bad fit. So they’re, they honestly believe that whoever they’re sending is someone who would be a good match.

And so that’s where I would encourage you to start. Make sure that everybody in your immediate orbit knows that you are hiring and they know what you’re looking for. The second layer. And so this list that I’ve got on screen here for you right now, this is in order of my preference for how to find new employees.

The second is networking, so that would be your second and third degree connections from that immediate orbit. And so, This comes from sharing on LinkedIn or Twitter that you are looking for a potential hire. It comes from talking to, to your existing contractors or family members and asking them to spread the word.

It comes from as you’re having conversations with other professionals that you let them know that you have these openings. So really be aggressively making sure that people know that you are looking, because if they, if they know, they’re much more likely to send you somebody. But now let’s say that you’ve exhausted these two things and, and now it’s time to just cast a really wide net.

The next place that I would look is putting the job on LinkedIn or job boards like Indeed, or those kinds of things. And if you do that, just be aware, depending on the role and where you’re located and how you make the role sound, you can get inundated with hundreds of resumes. It doesn’t mean you will.

I’ve seen LinkedIn ads that I would’ve thought would’ve gotten hundreds of resumes, get almost nothing, and I’ve seen LinkedIn ads I thought would get nothing get lots. You have to be prepared for that volume though, so that you are able to respond in a timely fashion. And this webinar is not about setting up a proper recruitment process with, you know, how you set up layers of interviews and, and, and an actual process behind it.

But just know if you’ve got people applying for jobs, even when you’re a one man band or a one person band and you’re trying to get out there and and recruit, and you’re still trying to do business development and client service and all those kinds of things. You still need to be responsive to these folks because you need to remember that recruiting employees is a sales process.

It’s not just a screening process. Yes, you need to vet the employee and make sure that they would be a good fit, but you also need to convince them that you are a good place to work and if you are not helping them have a, a good experience in the recruiting process, it makes it much less likely that they’ll say yes if you extend an offer.

Now, after these, after LinkedIn and job boards, there are typical job ads, whether those are online or even I, I know some agencies will still advertise in their local newspaper. Those are the kinds of things that yes, you can try them. I wouldn’t suggest investing money in paid job listings, generally speaking, unless you are really finding yourself with a very shallow pool of candidates.

And again, I would start with, you know, premium job listings on LinkedIn as as your first step if you’re gonna do that before you cast a wider net, because I have rarely seen in recent years those tactics work. And that brings us to the final one on the list, which is recruiters and I get asked about this a lot.

Very rarely for first hires though. So my guess is if you’re just thinking about hiring your first employee, you’re not really thinking about recruiters. But I’ve seen recruiters work for more senior roles. I generally haven’t seen recruiters work as well for more junior ones. Recruiters can be fairly expensive.

I haven’t seen a huge difference in the quality of the candidates that I have gotten from recruiters versus through my own processes. Now, your mileage may vary. You may have a different experience. I’m not in any way saying that recruiters are a bad thing. They certainly have a place, and if you’ve exhausted your other opportunities here, a recruiter might be something to consider. You can also think about getting help in the recruiting process, so not going the full recruiter route, but working with someone like an HR consultant or a service that will help pre-screen, do initial screening interviews and help you to winnow down the field of candidates so that you as the solo agency owner, you know, can focus on just the the best quality candidates.

So now that we’ve talked about how you decide to hire and, and all the things that that go into figuring out who you’re gonna hire, where you’re gonna find them, and all the administrative things we need to talk about, a little bit about how you set that first hire up for success. And one of the first things that I always tell people is that when it comes to client retention or employee retention, it starts during the recruitment or sales process.

You don’t start with retention when someone is already employed with you. You don’t start with retention six or 12 or 18 months when you’re worried that they might be planning to leave. You start with that very first conversation and how you interact with that hire and how they interact with you during the recruiting process is really important.

So make sure that you are really focused on setting up a process that works and that conveys why you are a good place to work and that you’ve painted the picture accurately of what you expect them to be doing on day one, and where you would like to see the role evolving to. And we need to be careful in those conversations to make sure that we’re not overselling a particular role that we’re not diminishing the amount of grunt work that there might be in a particular role, because guess what? You can do that during recruiting, but on day one, they’re gonna figure it out when you start giving them their tasks. So be honest. If there’s drudgery involved, let them know there’s drudgery involved. If there is lots of opportunity down the road, share what that is.

But be realistic and explain what has to happen in order to get there. All of those things during the recruiting process will help you with retention and will help you get a more successful employee because they knew what to expect coming in. With your first hire though, you really need to be thinking about some of the things that you probably don’t have in place already and at the top of that list is processes.

You probably are doing things yourself and you don’t really think about it. It’s just, it comes naturally to you. Whoever you hire is not gonna do it your way right out of the gate. And so the more that you document the processes that you need them to follow, the better. Now you can do this in advance, which is great, or you can do it collaboratively in the early stages.

In either case, I would encourage you to get the feedback from your new hire as to how they can suggest improvements to the process, because they’re gonna come with new ideas, their own experience, and those kinds of things. Take advantage of that. They’re also gonna come with gaps in their knowledge, and that means that you need to train them.

You need to train them on the skills that they need that they may not have. You need to train them on your clients to understand what your clients are looking for and any particular nuances that they may have, and you need to train them on your way of doing things. What makes you different? What makes you you, and why you get hired, and make sure that they’re following through on the things that you want.

You need to adopt a coaching mindset as you’re doing this. It can’t be scolding, it can’t be you need to do it exactly my way. You’re there to advise them, get the most out of them. Look at, look at how they’re performing in the early stages, and as they move ahead. How can you help them do better? and doing better doesn’t necessarily mean doing it exactly the same way that you do.

They need to be within the bounds that you create, but be open to them doing things in a slightly different way. You also need to be realistic with yourself and understand that no hire is going to care as much as you do. They’re not gonna perform the work as quickly as you do, and they’re probably not gonna perform it as well as you do.

There’s a reason why you’ve gotten to where you are as an agency owner. And those are things that you’re hire, particularly if they have a lot less experience than you do, which is typical of a first hire most of the time. They’re just not gonna be at that level. I’ve had agency owners say, I, I need them to think like they’re an owner of the business. Why? They’re not.

So be realistic with yourself about these expectations and really put yourself in a position where you can coach and mentor these new, this new hire. And it’s gonna be a learning experience for you, particularly if this is the first time you’ve ever been a manager, which is not uncommon for a lot of agency owners.

They may never have had the experience of managing employees, but certainly it’s probably the first time you’ve managed as the actual owner of the business, as the top dog, the person who you can’t go and say you know, say, well, you need to talk to so-and-so, or you go to HR. Right? It’s all on you. And the best way to set yourself up for success on an ongoing basis is to have weekly one-on-ones with every one of your employees, but particularly this first hire.

And don’t just say, well, I talk to them on Slack every day anyway. Or We’re always Zooming. No, it needs to be a separate and distinct one-on-one that the employee leads. It needs to be an opportunity for them to share and talk with you and for you to listen. And you can find lots of my conversations about one-on-ones and articles about why you should be doing them and, and those sorts of things.

And I think in the next month or so, there’s gonna be a, a detailed webinar on how to set up the proper process for them. So I would encourage you to tune in for that because it’s really, I think, the biggest difference you can make in managing employees. Finally, you need to be thinking about the future.

And the future comes in two different forms. It comes in the role of the employee, and it comes in the compensation of the employee. And so as you’re building a successful new hire into your team, you need to think about how is their role going to evolve? And you need to paint that picture for them, and you need to work with them and think about that and make sure that you’re adapting as your business changes.

Because when you bring that first hire on, it’s gonna change your whole business. It changes your role. They’re bringing new stuff to the table that may help. So you need to be thinking about that future, but you also need to be thinking about how you evolve their compensation over time. And it’s not too early to think about this really during the recruiting process, because a lot of employees will ask you during that process, when will I get my first review?

Is it three months, six months, 12 months? They may ask you, what do you expect for raises? And look, you’ve never had a system, so you don’t know. And I think it’s okay to be honest and say, I, you know, look, I’m still kind of feeling my way, but here’s what I’m currently thinking. You want to just make sure that you’re thinking about that, not over promising on compensation.

Don’t say you’re gonna review salary every three months or six months, even though you may be tempted to do that because you were able to bring someone in at a lower price than what you think they’re really worth. And so you want them to think, Hey, you know, there’s room for constant progression. There may be, but it also can put you in a bind where they come to expect that, and that can get very expensive for you.

It can make retention more difficult. Same thing when it comes to bonuses, whether they’re formulaic compensation bonuses, like if you hit these benchmarks, you get X dollars, you get X percentage of the business sales or whatever. Or it’s just, you know, this is the target bonus, or we’re gonna do bonuses on this schedule,.Be really cautious about those things, particularly with the first employee, because you don’t have a lot of track record. You don’t really know exactly what the future holds. So be honest about the future, look to the future, help paint that picture, but don’t overpromise and don’t make compensation more complicated than it needs to be because those are mistakes that I often seen made, particularly with a first hire.

So with that, that will bring us to a conclusion of the fixed portion of the webinar. Before we move to q and a and as we look at some of the things that we’re thinking about today, we’re thinking about how you time that first hire, how do you decide to pull the trigger and, and most of the time once you decide to, to bring that hire on, you get that hire on board.

You say, geez, I wish I had done this sooner. So I would say that most agency owners that I know don’t rush into that decision. They take a lot of deliberative time and hold back on it, and that’s fine because you want to make sure that you understand all of the administrative rules and regulations that we talked about today.

You want to make sure you’re getting the proper advice. You want to make sure that you’re structuring the role so that it really provides you the benefits that you need. And then it’s also something that’s attainable that you can find that hire. And of course we talked about how you both recruit and retain that new hire effectively.

So I encourage you if you don’t have an employee but are thinking about it, that’s probably, that’s probably why you’ve sat here through this webinar until this point. If you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the q and a now, or if you’re watching this on replay, go ahead and email me at chip@smallagencygrowth.com.

I’d be happy to field whatever questions that you may have for those of you who are here with me live today. I’ll be moving on to that q and a session in just a moment. If you are watching this live on replay this will conclude the recording and I will look forward to seeing you on a future webinar.

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