Hiring New Employees and Delegating at Your Small Business

Mike Kelly and Elizabeth Larkin

Are you ready to hire an employee for your small business? Today we talk about the best way to write a job ad and how to hire the right person. And once you hire them, do you know how to delegate? We discuss these topics and more on this episode of the Small Biz Ahead podcast with hosts Elizabeth Larkin and Gene Marks.

Show Notes

Welcome to another episode of the Small Biz Ahead Podcast. Sign up for the weekly newsletter so you never miss an episode. Do you have a question you’d like Elizabeth and Gene to answer? Submit your question to the Small Biz Ahead Podcast.



Elizabeth: Welcome back to the Small Biz Ahead podcast this is Elizabeth Larkin, I’m here again with Gene Marks. Gene?

Gene: Yes?

Elizabeth: I’m going to read another one of our iTunes reviews.

Gene: Okay.

Elizabeth: We’re doing this because we are celebrating the fact that you can now subscribe to us on iTunes, and people have been reading reviews.

Gene:    Now take notice listeners, if you’ve been listening loyally, you’ll notice that Elizabeth is reading the positive iTunes reviews only. We have yet to have anything negative said about that, how about that?

Elizabeth: We only get positive reviews.

Gene:    Yes, selective reviews.

Elizabeth: We don’t have any haters yet.

Gene:    That’s fair enough.

Elizabeth: None of them have been over the top effusive, no-one’s been, like, you’ve changed my life. They’ve pretty, yes, it’s alright.

Gene:    I know. I’ve got to talk to my mum about that, she really needs to step it up.

Elizabeth: Mom needs to step it up. Okay, so this review says;

“The podcast makes me feel like I’m part of a small business family, rather than out on my own. I work by myself, as a solo entrepreneur. They answer simple questions that many business owners face.”

Elizabeth: That is so nice, because I feel like that is our place in the market. There are other podcasts out there, but they’re all for entrepreneurs. There about passive income, and ours is really about real business owners sending in real every day questions.

Gene:    I’ve always been about that. I get it, the media, the people that get attention, you’re on Shark Tank, you’ve come up with a great idea, you’re a venture capitalist Or a tech company. Meanwhile, my client base, a bunch of boring old small business owners who are selling pipes, and landscaping services, and roofing services, and they operate out of industrial parks. But they all have questions about running the businesses. Mainstream America has established businesses that’s what it is.

Elizabeth: We’re talking to the people, that when politicians talk about small business owners, that’s who we are talking to. We are not talking to the solo entrepreneur who wants to change the world, we’re talking to people that actually are running, or starting a new small business.

Gene:    And they’re relying on a business to provide a livelihood for their families. And they have challenges and struggles, and a lot of them are happy, some of them are not happy. But it is an unromantic role, but it can be a very fulfilling one.

Elizabeth: And we are really happy to provide that small business family for you, so thank you very much for that review. So we’re going to be back after word from our sponsor, we have a question about a luxury housekeeping business.

QUESTION #1: Hiring New Employees for a Growing Business

Elizabeth: Okay, we’re back, our first question is from Michelle, from Tennessee. Michelle writes,

“I’m 32 years old, married, and have two kids. I work as a freelance house keeper. My angle in the business is that I use all natural, non-toxic products when cleaning, and I also bake a small treat in the oven while I clean so that the house smells like baked goods when I’m done. And the owner is left with a tasty desert. This brings me a lot of high end clients, and I want to expand by hiring other cleaners. What’s the first step I should take?”

Gene:    Can I just stop you right there? That is such a great idea, when you’re done housekeeping, you just bake a little something, and it leaves the smell of baking in the home. That is such a cool idea. People are so smart, they’re so innovative.

Elizabeth: When I read this I thought, when you have your house cleaned, typically when you open the door, it smells like Pine-sol, Lysol, it smells like cleaning products.

If you’re using non-toxic, all natural products, it’s not gonna smell. It might smell like lavender maybe, But that’s really it, it’s not going to have that clean smell. So having the baked is good. So she writes, this brings me a lot of high end clients and I want to expand by hiring other cleaners, and going from freelancer to a business owner.

Gene:    Good for her.

Elizabeth: So first of all, you are a business owner, I wouldn’t consider yourself a freelancer, you’re running your own business, you’re already a business owner, you need to start thinking in that mindset. I understand hiring would be a daunting prospect, because she’s running a business where she really puts her personal touch on things. That baked goods, that’s perfection, but you do need to scale up. I’m assuming since she led with the fact that she’s married with two kids, she’s saying she has limited time, so it’s not like she can just do more houses to grow her business, she does need to hire people. So Gene, I’m gonna let you take this, because I’ve never hired people.

Gene:    I went through this myself. First of all, again it’s an awesome business, and it’s a great idea. Right now you’re at the stage where you’re earning a living. You will never make serious money, you will never be a true blue business owner until you have employees, until you’re making money off of other people. I know that sounds harsh, but that’s what it is.

I had that experience growing my business, it was me and my dad, and for a number of years, it was just me doing all the services. It wasn’t until we started hiring people… My dad passed away over 10 years ago, and that’s when I started hiring other people. And that’s when I started making money. Because there’s only so many hours in the week that she can go and clean houses, that’s fine for a little bit of a living, but it’s gonna be limited.

So here’s what you need to do, when you’re going down that path. Number one is, you have to save your money. Because, you’re probably turning away work, or missing a lot of opportunities of more work. Because you’re busy doing what you’re doing. And you don’t have anybody to do that work. You’re going to need money in the bank, because you’re going to need to take a bet, and you’re going to need to pay somebody, that you’ve trained, to do this housekeeping work for you, in exactly the way you want them to do it, down to the baked goods. The exact impression you want them to leave. There’s a 50-50 chance you’re going to mess up, and hire the wrong person, which means you’re going to have to start at square one, and find somebody else after making apologies. You’re going to need some savings in the bank to allow you to do that.

Elizabeth: You’re probably going to have to give up a couple of weeks to train this person.

Gene:    No doubt about it. And you’re going to pull yourself out. You have got to have the mindset of, it’s not going to be me doing any more work right now, it’s going to be the person that I hire, and the next person, and the next person. As each new job comes in, the smartest and most successful business owners, and managers that I know,  they don’t think when tasks come up, oh my god, where am I going to find the time to do this? Their first thought is, who am I gonna have to do this for me?

You’ve set the system and the processes, it’s a wonderful idea that you’re doing. You need to come back and say okay great, now I need to start filling this in with staff. You save money, you hire that person, you train that person, and now your job is to sell. And because you know your business so well, and you’ve got a good model built, you’re going to be going out there, and you’re going to be looking and hungry to sell work to pay for this person. And hopefully it will start to grow. And hire additional people. That’s my advice, is to save your money, when it comes to expanding.

Elizabeth: I think this is a good bet for a business. I think both of these, the all-natural, non-toxic cleaning. We had Tim Barklage on, a couple of podcasts ago. That’s a huge expanding market. And house cleaning is expanding, people don’t really clean their houses any more, it’s something their outsourcing. So I think you’ve got a great shot at this.

Gene:    She called herself a freelancer. Are you a freelancer, or are you an entrepreneur and a business owner? Decide. And if you just want to be a freelancer, and do this for the rest of your life, then that’s fine, it’s cool. But if you really are truly an entrepreneur, or business owner, you want to have ten freelancers or employees working for you.

Elizabeth: I think she wants to be a business owner.

Gene:    Good for her.

Elizabeth: Because she wants to hire these people. And I want to hire her to clean. I probably can’t afford her. Speaking of that though, Tim Barklage’s company, I think it’s called Better Life, I went and bought some of his products. I bought the counter top spray, I bought the laundry detergent, they work great. And so often, you think with those non-toxic, no chemical products, they don’t work that well. They work really really well.

Gene:    They do. He’s made a great living doing that, and his build a wonderful company doing that, and there’s a bunch of other companies, like Jessica Alba’s Honest company.

Elizabeth: Which I think she is selling now.

Gene:    Is that right?

Elizabeth: She’s thinking about it.

Gene:    There’s a whole industry of people who are making off organic, and non-toxic, and natural products. And I think that’s great. I’m not some kind of an environmentalist, I think it’s a great marketing angle to take. I think people really like that with kids around the house, they want to hear it’s non-toxic.

Elizabeth: It really appeals to a certain income level, that don’t mind spending their money on that, and we will link back to the Tim Barklage episode, because I think people will really enjoy that. He talks about his time on Shark Tank, and how he got his business started. And we’ll be right back with question two, after this.

QUESTION #2: How Can I Become a Better at Delegating?

Elizabeth: Okay, we are back with question number two. This is from Mickey, from Glendale, Arizona. And Mickey writes;

I opened my pet boarding about two years ago, and shortly after that, hired my first employees. They’re all really great, but I feel like I’m really struggling as a manager. I’m terrible at delegating, and it’s definitely not that I don’t trust them, they’re all really great at the jobs, I just hate telling people what to do. How do I get better?

Elizabeth: I hate delegating as well.

Gene:    You hate telling people what to do.

Elizabeth: Here’s the thing, I think you need to think of it as you’re developing processes, rather than you’re barking orders at people. We have an article on this that Mr Young wrote, that I loved, and it’s all about you set up processes for your employees to follow. You don’t sit there and follow your employees around all day, and say do this, now do this, now do this. Which I’m sure you’re not doing, but you might feel like you’re doing. I think you need to shift your mindset a little bit towards processes for your employees, rather than one off delegation tasks.

Gene:    It makes sense. I do think you’re limited, if you have that weakness. Believe me, we all have weaknesses. It’s something that, if you recognize that this is a weakness. And it is a weakness, it will hold you back from growing. Because to grow a company you need people, and people need a leader. And most people need to be told what to do, or at least pointed in the right direction and given some supervision and guidance.

Elizabeth: And they like structure. People like structure.

Gene:    They do. And if you’re not comfortable in that role, it’s completely fine, because everybody has their strengths and weaknesses. But if that’s something that, you’re like, this is just not my bag, I would rather be doing something else productive for the company, then recognize that. So I applaud you for that. And you should make plans to bring on somebody on a management role, who is going be able to do that for you. As long as it’s profitable to have somebody that’s managing your people while you’re out doing sales and marketing, or you’re doing product development, or you’re doing something that promotes.

Elizabeth: Grooming the pets.

Gene:    Grooming, or whatever it is, you’re doing something that is productive for the company. There are some managers, they have no problem whatsoever, barking out the orders. Some people do it really well, some people don’t do it as well. I do know that, when you look at leaders, any leaders, regardless of the size of the company, if they’re successful, it’s because they are comfortable managing, and of course, leading people.

Elizabeth: Do you have any clients that aren’t great at that, so they have hired someone to do it? How does that work for them?

Gene:    I have one client that struggles with this because they know they’re not great at it, at managing people in general. It’s not even just feeling uncomfortable telling them what to do. I can think of one client in particular, this guy doesn’t like dealing with his employees. The guy is a mechanic, and he’s got six mechanics under him, he doesn’t want to hear their nonsense.

The issue that he’s got is, for him to bring on that general manager that you say, that’s a cost to the business, as you’re adding overhead now. His issue is, “how  am I gonna make up for that cost?” And that’s an issue with this guy I’m thinking about, because he’s a pretty good mechanic, he’s not a great sales guy. So you really have to know what your weaknesses are, I’m not sure if there’s a real clear cut answer for that person.

Elizabeth: Does he just function as a mechanic, full time?

Gene:    He wants to be a mechanic, and yet his employees keep asking him for advice or questions, vacation requests. The stupid stuff. Not so stupid to them.

Elizabeth: It’s a big deal to them.

Gene:    It’s a big deal. He’s running a business, and when I look at him… We’ve had a lot of conversations about this, it just seems like, unless he’s willing to take a big leap and risk, and invest in somebody, and change a little bit himself, to do something else for the business. This is what his business is going to be for the next 20 years. There’s nothing wrong with that. Business is making money. That’s okay.

Elizabeth: The fact that he has a CRM system though, and is working with you, makes me think he really wants it to succeed.

Gene:    Yes, it’s not that great. We sold him the CRM system, it’s like a glorified Rolodex, he uses it to send Christmas cards. Guy’s got a lot of issues.

Elizabeth: He needs you to go in and tell him what to do.

Gene:    And it’s funny that you say that too. Because, you think that’s the case; hire a business coach, and I don’t want to put down business coaches, but honestly, there’s only so much a consultant or a coach or an advisor can do. You put a gun against somebody’s head, but they have got to step up, and do it they’ve got to do. And again, and this guy’s case, he is a perfect example of somebody that has a similar problem to what this listener has about managing people. I’m not sure if he’s going to be able to put this out.

Elizabeth: I want to go back to my initial recommendation of setting up processes for your employers to follow, and also thinking about Gene’s advice, do you want to run a business? If you think about it, I either tell this person what to do, or that they can’t go on vacation when they want to, or I close up my business. You have to think of it and those black-and-white terms. You can’t get emotional about it. Their time is money, your time is money, and you have to think of it like that. As Gene always says, the business is an asset, so you need to run it like that.

Gene:    And your employees, I know it sounds cruel, but they are assets in your business. They’re capital, you’re trying to put them to work so you can profit of them. Again, I know that sounds a little harsh, and I’m not saying you should run it like a slave shop. Smart business owners recognize that and there are limits.

Elizabeth: We’ll be right back after a word from our sponsor, with our word of brilliance from Gene.


Elizabeth: We are back with our word of brilliance from Gene.

Gene:    My word today is vodka.

Elizabeth: Vodka?

Gene:    It’s vodka. And it has to do with a recent campaign, that Absolut Vodka ran in select cities around the country. Washington, Chicago, and a few other cities. They ran this campaign on Facebook messenger. And what the campaign was, is that if you went to their page, this is Absolut Vodka’s page, Facebook messenger would engage with you, and ask you if you would like a free shot of vodka. If you answer yes, Facebook messenger on Absolut site would give you a choice of bars, in your local area, to go to. You would select the bar, and then Facebook messenger would give you a code to use. And when you went to that bar, you would give the bartender the code, and you would get a free shot of Absolut Vodka.

How awesome is that? Not only that, but Absolut included in this promotional campaign, a free ride from lift, to take you home, after you had your shot of vodka at the bar. Which I’m assuming, Absolut’s lawyers insisted was part of this promotional campaign. But the reason why I bring up vodka, and Absolut, and Facebook messenger is this; they launched this around the time that Facebook made a big announcement, about their messenger service. Messenger service, Elizabeth, is that if you advertise on Facebook, you can use messenger. And what messenger does is, it has communications back and forth with the user, who is engaging with the ad. It uses automated bots.

Elizabeth: You’ve talked about bots before.

Gene:    And bots, are little software programs that pretend they are human. So if you answer a question, the bot recognizes the answer, and then answers it back, and then responds back and forth as if it’s a real person. But it’s not, it’s a robot. It’s a program. And it’s all done automatically. Facebook messenger has been exploding in growth, and a lot of companies have been using it for advertising, and of course if you’re a small business owner, you should be looking into using Facebook ads, and Facebook messenger for your advertising campaigns. A big thing happened though, in September, for Facebook messenger. And what that was is this; finally they were giving users now the ability to buy stuff, right from the messenger. So for example, if you own a pet store, and you want to do advertising on Facebook, and you use Facebook messenger, people are responding, and they like the dog collar that you’re selling, or the treats… We like to talk about pets on this show.

Elizabeth: We really do.

Gene:    When it came time to buy, you would have to click on a link, which would take you to your website, off of Facebook to buy. And a lot of advertisers were annoyed by this, because sometimes people would lose interest, or they would get distracted. A lot of Facebook users would get annoyed, because they were like, hey I’ve got my credit card information with Facebook anyway, why do I have to resubmit it again? It was annoying to everybody.

Well in September, finally Facebook announced that on the messenger service. When you advertise with them now, there’s a buy button, and it integrates with PayPal, and MasterCard, and Visa, and all the other services. You can just click on the buy button and use your card information on Facebook. And boom, you can finish the entire sale, on Facebook using the bots, using the campaign, without ever having to leave Facebook, or ever having to go to your website to buy. It’s a huge thing for your customers. And if you’re thinking about advertising on Facebook, you absolutely have to incorporate a buy function in what you’re doing, so you can close deals fast.

Elizabeth: Can you do that for your type of business?

Gene:    No. I am unsuccessful selling on Facebook, because we sell CRM systems.

Elizabeth: Do you need to consult with people before they decide to buy?

Gene:    That’s correct. So for me, that’s not good. But I have plenty of clients, like a pet store. Or people that sell primarily B to C. People that are selling to consumers. So if you’re in that business, and you’re asking them for Credit card information, so they can buy right there on your site, it takes a whole step out of the process now, they can buy it right when they’re in Facebook.

Elizabeth: And then it gets shipped to you through there.

Gene:    Automatically. It all takes care of the information that you’ve already provided to Facebook. So therefore, you do it all within the Facebook platform, and you’re not having to go outside of it. And for the millions of small businesses that use Facebook, and of course the billion people that are on Facebook, it just makes it that much easier to buy products, and it’s great.

And the reason I want to point that out is, Amazon has gotten so good, when you go to either site, and you’re a prime member, so you’re locked in, and you want that. You select the item, buy it, and you’re done. It’s two or three clicks, it’s the easiest thing in the world. So easy to buy on Amazon, they’re fantastic. And now Facebook is catching up. They’re turning themselves into as somewhat type of shopping service for their advertising. And they’re using messenger, and automatic bots behind messenger.

Elizabeth: I was reading, it was probably early last year, about how local businesses should take advantage of the fact that they have a major step up advantage over Amazon, which is they don’t have to ship, they can just have people by on their website, and pick it up at the store, or have it delivered locally. Have you seen a lot of businesses taking advantage of that?

Gene:    They don’t. And it’s funny, it still gets to the issue of local businesses not either willing to take a risk, or understanding that they have these opportunities to do just that.

Elizabeth: They could use Drones.

Gene:    The drone technology is with in future years, and I get that. But you’re right, there is a great angle where you could just stop in and pick it up that day. Or even have a local service, or have high school kids deliver the stuff to you that day. And if you have any problem with that, come to our store and I’ll deal with you directly as the owner, as opposed to Amazon, you don’t know who you’re dealing with.

Elizabeth: One of the things that keeps me from buying things on Amazon. Is that, if I buy something from, let’s say Nordstrom, and they ship it to me, and I have an issue with it, or I need to return it, I can just to Nordstrom, or I can ship it back easily. It’s not that easy to return stuff to Amazon. You have to pay for shipping, even if you’re a prime member.

Gene:    It’s a whole bunch of steps you have to take. And Amazon obviously has that as a big challenge. And you bring up such a great point. You’re buying from a retailer’s site, because you know, that in the end you can look somebody in the eye, and say this doesn’t work and I’d like to return it.

Elizabeth: A local business really should take care of that. And you’re right, if you order something online or you call the store and you tell us you want something by 2, we can deliver it that afternoon. After 5 PM, no we don’t do deliveries, but we can deliver it the next morning, right away. And I think that would be a huge step up. Especially for drugstores.

Gene:    Pharmacies are great. Any type of local clothing stores are great, restaurants is also a good idea. You can buy stuff and have it delivered, right there, you just pick it up.

Elizabeth: Bookstores.

Gene:    Correct. So there’s lots of local merchants that would benefit from something like that. And I think they should play out the fact that they’re local. People will pay a little bit extra. Remember my word is vodka. We all got here through Absolut’s campaign to give away free shots of vodka, and now you know where my thoughts are at.

Elizabeth: It all comes down to making life easier, for your clients or customers.  We just did an article about this, about how to keep clients coming back for more. What to do to make sure they choose you, every time they’re looking for a service. And one of them is just thinking like your customer. I don’t know if your customer was thinking, I want a shot of Absolut Vodka. But Absolut thought of everything, they made it very easy for customers to have that experience. Small business might have that budget, but you could think about doing something like local delivery, or having a bot on your website to answer questions right away.

I’ve talked about this before, a lot of small businesses don’t even have their address on their website. Think like your customer, what are they coming to you for? They’re going to want your website, your address, your contact information, exactly what services you provide. Put that out there for them.

Gene:    A couple of comments on that as well, now that we’re talking about vodka. The main point was to talk about Facebook messenger, there’s a buy button on there now, if you’re active on Facebook. Take advantage of that buy button, sell on Facebook. But getting back to the Absolut campaign, they’re giving away free shots of vodka. First of all, I don’t know what you and I are doing sitting in here right now, and these guys are giving away free shots of vodka.

But they’re giving away stuff for free, why? It makes sense, if you have vodka… I had a shot of the Mandarin, have you heard of the Mandarin… It’s good. And I ultimately bought a bottle of it, which is exactly what Absolut wanted me to do. So the bottom line is that, to get something you’ve gotta give something away for free. And I like the fact, I love companies that give away Sample’s for free to entice people. Plus, they partner. It’s not just about giving away a free shot of vodka, they’re making people go to bars, that are participating in this. They get the free shot of vodka, and the bars are loving that, because I cant speak for you, but I’m not just drinking one shot of vodka when I’m going to some bar.

So, you’re obviously going to be spending more money there as well. They engage, and they bring in partners in their campaign as well. I like it again, if you’re going to do a campaign, give something away for free, get a partner involved, because they can help absorb the costs. And also be part of the experience along with you. And finally, they do know their demographics. We talked about this earlier, knowing your demographics when you do marketing. Trust me, Absolut have a very good idea how many people are going to asking for this free shot. They know how many free shots they’re going to be giving away. They’re not going into this blind. If you are going to be giving away free samples, you do want to make sure that you do a little bit of research beforehand, and know what your budget is going to be.

Elizabeth: Definitely. I’m going to actually link to that article, in the show notes. It’s called Five Ways To Keep Your Customers Coming Back For More. One of the other tips in it, is giving away free samples. And I was thinking about a really well known ice cream shop in Connecticut. And you get your flavor, and then they say, what flavor would you like a sample of? They give you a tiny sample of the other flavor on top, and then of course, the next time they say, do you want two scoops or one? You’re going to get two scoops. We should have the guy who wrote that article on, he was really good. He’s actually writing an e-book on it right now for us, which will be available for download on Small Biz Ahead soon.

So that’s going to do it for us, this week. Gene, it was great to talk to you again.

Gene:    Always fun to be here.

Elizabeth: Thanks for your words of brilliance, all of them. And we’ll talk to you next week.

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