Turn The Tables II - Hiring Team Members - Question 9

Turn The Tables II - Hiring Team Members - Question 9

Do you have any team members? If yes, how did you decide when you needed to hire someone?

What do you look for?

If you don't have team members, do you think you will ever take the leap and bring someone on to help?

This is a topic I love to not only write about, but also read about. In any business, having the "right" team is crucial to the success or failure of a business. THE team members you bring on will most likely see you more than your family. They will see your flaws exposed, give great insight, provide ideas for growth and become like family.
When I began hiring for Thimblepress, I was honestly very scared (but I would have never told anyone that). I really thought I could do it all and do it all at 110%. The reason I wanted to do it all was because in the business I had before Thimblepress, with one of my dear friends Catherine (side note: she is amazing artist, so you should check out her new site!), we had a third business partner that really burned us and took advantage of us. That experience left a "I can do it all - and I don't trust anyone to help me" sized hole in my heart. For a while it made me afraid to ever allow someone to get close to my business for fear of someone doing the same thing this person did to Catherine and I. This is something I never share or even talk about because I always try to be polite, but I feel like you need to know this in order to understand the state of mind I was in when it came to even thinking about bringing someone into my world to help. And this was also 10 years ago, so lots of time has passed. I am typically a very trusting individual. I share, I give my all and truly think the best of people. I have a positive outlook most of the time and can find humor in most situations. I think at the end of the day I needed to experience that SO I would be a little more cautious, wouldn't get burned or taken advantage of again. Eyes wide open, right? Unfortunately, I think going through that to learn those lessons also meant closing myself off to help. I had to dig myself out a bit, but I quickly realized the benefits of having the RIGHT people in your corner when it comes to your baby, your business. Now that you know my state of mind, fast forward to May 2013. I was sitting in a NYC cab and headed to the airport for my flight back to Mississippi. I had just finished exhibiting at my very first National Stationery Show. I had worked the show completely alone. Yes, I realize I am insane, but no one could take off work to help. I did what I had to do to make it happen. My feet were swollen, eyes tired and mentally I felt like I had been hit by a bus. A happy bus filled with celebration and confetti, but a bus none the less. I had a briefcase filled with paper orders. I wouldn't put them in my suitcase for fear of the airline losing my suitcase with all the order sheets in it. This is also before we moved to electronic ordering. Sitting in the cab, I scanned through emails of orders on my phone. At this point in the timeline I still had my full-time job, so I knew there was no resting ahead. I had to show up on Monday and be awake & capable. I began to feel anxious and overwhelmed like I couldn't breathe. It also did not help that I get the worst motion sickness. I clutched my phone and tilted my head back, resting my messy-bun on the headrest of the seat. I know this sounds all too dramatic, but I want you to actually feel how I felt (minus the motion sickness). I realized I had to get over my fear of someone screwing me over or taking advantage and ask for help. It was then, in that yellow cab headed to LaGuardia Airport, that I called my soon to be first team member and asked if they needed a job. It was the perfect storm. The person I hired, Dani Griffin Polen, was the girlfriend, now wife, of Neil Polen. Neil, who is a very talented architect, built my first National Stationery Show booth. Every night we would meet up and work on the booth in the front area of what is now our retail shop in Downtown Jackson. The silver lining in all of this was that Dani came up and helped work on the booth night after night, never asking to be paid. She just wanted to help. God slowly but surely introduced me to the first Thimblepress team member, and in the middle of it all I had no idea that was up His sleeves (robe?). God is so great in that way. He showed that I could trust and rely on someone again in the most grace-filled and unassuming way. It totally worked. Genius. Fast forward to present day. We have 7 full time team members and 6-20 part time team members depending on the fluctuation of the season and our needs. These people that I have in my life, Thimble Team, are the legs, arms, feet and hands of Thimblepress. I will always put them first. I will put them before everything else because when you take care of your people, they take care of you. The thing though, it is not even calculated like that. It is natural. It brings me so much joy to see people enjoying their jobs/career. I want our team members to love coming to work. Mostly to hang out with me, but I never want any of them to experience the feeling I had when Catherine and I would have to go to work in our other business. It made what could have been such a great experience so negative. The statement "spreads like poison in the water supply" also holds true to a team. If you have one person with a bad attitude, it spreads like poison to the rest of the team. I intentionally keep our offices door-free(ish). I try to create an environment of happy, positive and fun. I strive to make it an environment I want to walk into each day. We all work together for the same purpose of spreading happiness, fun, inspiration, encouragement, kindness, innovation, and unique experiences through our products and company. Those words, are our core values that we live and breathe. At the end of the day, you can have a resume 10 miles long with an educational pedigree 10 times longer than that, but if you are not a team player, don't jive with our team and/or carry a pessimistic chip on your shoulder, you won't be hired or stay here long. We are a people company above anything. Take care of your people. It is the best investment you can make. I hope you enjoy reading what all these amazing men and women have to say! xo, Kristen
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We have two team members, one full time and one on mom hours (9-2), and another awesome college girl who comes in part time to help stuff cards. The three of us are also moms, so it’s impossible to work the amount of hours we want to and it was very apparent we needed help early on. Since it’s obviously a small environment, it was important the dynamic was right, so we would always hire someone on a three-week trial. Thank goodness, too, as a couple people were doooooozies. The three week thing gives an easy out if the vibe isn’t right. We have learned to never ever hire friends, and look for someone who is comfortable yet professional. Since we have such a casual atmosphere, starting out with a certain level of professionalism is important.
CONNECT WITH E. FRANCES
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Yes, I have 4 team members: a shipping coordinator, someone who assembles product, a wholesale manager, and a customer service rep. Then there is me, who fills in all of the gaps and runs the business. I am about to hire a creative intern to assist me with things like product packaging, laying out our catalogs, and finding the gaps in our creative assets. I first decided to hire someone to help me with shipping about 4 years ago, because I truly was running out of time during the day to create anything new! At the same time, our wholesale business was growing, so I hired someone to handle communications with our retailers, and also customer service. Eventually as wholesale grew, that job split in 2, and we hired an exclusive customer service rep. We most recently hired the person to assemble products, and up until that hire I was still personally assembling most everything! What I was looking for in each and every hire was a person who was motivated, paid attention to detail, and understood the culture of my company, which is that I am creating gifts and cards that make people smile and are sweet. I am also a mother, so I have to be flexible with my own schedule, so I offer the same to my employees. As long as they get their work done, they can set their hours. Perhaps eventually that will change as we grow, but right now most all of my employees are also moms, so it feels incredible to know that my team is my support system, and they understand exactly what it means to have a family and also work.

CONNECT WITH STACIE
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Yes! Our first hire was last year. For the first four years of Bench Pressed, the two of us did everything. Last year we realized that we could either keep doing everything ourselves and just keeping our heads above water or we could hire another person and continue to make new things and keep growing. We brought our printer in part time and we love her — she does great work that we never have to worry about and keeps our work in stock without issue (plus we like her as a person). And now we have time to work on other things besides production.

CONNECT WITH JANE & ANDY
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I currently have 2 team members. I decided to hire when production load started taking over my life. I didn’t have time to run the business because I was busy producing and fulfilling the orders. That’s when I knew it was time to delegate. I looked for people with a positive attitude, willingness to learn and most importantly, how much they cared about the work they do!

CONNECT WITH SHERRY
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I have an editorial intern or two each season, which is a 12-week apprenticeship, and many, many contributors. But, no official team members.

In the past I have had team members, wonderful women who helped shape and build Cottage Hill, and I anticipate to hire again in the future when we choose to grow again. When I do hire, the most important things I look for are the desire and openness to learn, honest communication and integrity.
CONNECT WITH KATIE
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On occasion, I will hire an intern to come in if my workload is out of whack, but for the most part, it’s just me, myself, and I. Yes, when my son and daughter are a little older and I make the leap of going full time, I will certainly need some extra help.

CONNECT WITH GINGER
WEBSITE | INSTAGRAM

I do - one of my first team members I added was a customer service assistant. It makes it so much easier to focus on the growth of my business to have someone else answering questions. Then I slowly grew my team as my business grew. My best advice is that you take time to prepare for a team well before you actually have one! I recommend that any time you make a decision, big or small, you document the process. Even if you are the only person on your team, go ahead and write down what you decided - that will help you develop your policies. It will make it easier because your answers to customers will stay consistent, plus it will allow you to add a customer service assistant when you feel ready because you already have key policies documented. When you find a process or system that works for you, take a few minutes and document that as well. Whether it’s how you package orders or how you create mailing labels - there are steps you have to take to make it happen. You never know when you might need help after a sale or holiday rush, so this can make such a difference. It allows you to scale up at a moments notice - even if it’s just your best friend or mom coming to help you. You can give them the sheet of paper steps you need them to do and they’ll be able to work independently with you.
CONNECT WITH TONYA
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Printerette is nothing without Heidi and Molly. It was hard to take the plunge and hire someone and I first did it on the insistence of a trusted accountant Dad of mine. It's very uncomfortable at first (I felt so exposed!), and is such a financial risk but Printerette was feeling very stagnant because I was stretched so thin. I wasn't finding time to create because I was knee-deep in invoices, and packing and shipping orders. Finding someone to take over the part of the business that I didn't need to be involved in allowed me to re-energize and re-invest in the brand.

CONNECT WITH CATHERINE
WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | INSTAGRAM | PINTEREST | BLOG

Yes, as I mentioned I work with several other agents under one umbrella even though each of us is independent, and this is hugely helpful. Not only do we bounce ideas and issues off of one another, but they also offer perspectives, support and we share industry information. There’s a wealth of resources there. Agents only come from two places: other agencies (and almost no one every leaves those) or you grow them from the ground up. So new agents kind of come into the world at the same rate as baby panda bears. Very rare. For this reason, we stick together and all know each other.

CONNECT WITH KIM
WEBSITE | INSTAGRAM | BLOG

Most of our team members are contractors who specialize in something specific. We have a content manager who runs our social media and email. I have an event planner that helps me plan our conference. I outsource our web design and development and some of the content that we create on a month-to-month basis. I consider all of them to be a part of my team. I knew that I needed to outsource some things when my work-life balance got out of control.

It's hard to figure out what pieces you can let go of, so for one week, I kept track of every task that I did in my business. Then I drew a mind map of all the categories and tasks and highlighted the ones I didn't particularly love doing myself or that someone else could do. One of the first things to go with bookkeeping. Then, I hired our content manager. The most important thing to me when it comes to hiring someone is that you hire based on values and fit because you can always train on skill.
CONNECT WITH JENNIFER
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YES! Praise sweet little baby Jesus for our team members. We have Sam Randolph, who is our Studio Manager, our Sales Manager Sydney Blanchard and our Studio Assistant, Emily Jordan. Personally and professionally, each one of them brings different strengths to the table, and they are a sincere joy to be around.

On our last round of hiring (when Sydney and Emily came on board), Sam and I asked ourselves, would we want to go on a road trip with this person? The answer is a resounding HELL YES for all these women.
CONNECT WITH LIZ
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I have the unconditional support (and occasional carpentry skills) of my husband. And the book-keeping talents of one of my best friends. But other than that its a "one woman show" ha ha. Production is my favorite part of the process, so while sometimes its tempting to have an assembly minion, I love that part too much to hire someone to do it for me. I think I'd rather hire a housekeeper. Ha ha.

CONNECT WITH CAREY
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No! i outsource a lot but i really would like to make that leap and hire at least some part time team members this year. Do you know anyone?! Ha!

CONNECT WITH ROBYN
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What I look for is 1) loyalty 2) smarts 3) adaptive 4) teachable nature 5) team player 6) talent. If you aren’t a team player you will be gone sooner than you expected.

CONNECT WITH NANCY
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I do! I decided to hire my first person out of desperation. Before I did, I was staying up until 2am creating terrible blog graphics in Canva that were scheduled to go out with my blog the next morning at 7am. I was stressed and overwhelmed and knew I needed to invest in my sanity. It was one of the best decisions I’ve made. Every hire from there has been so interesting. I do better when I can preemptively hire for character and skills rather than out of desperation. Specifically, I often hire for a position that doesn’t exist. I find somebody who has a great personality, general skills of what I’m looking for, and the willingness to learn and grow and bring them on my team for a trial basis and have them join my team and create a position for them. They usually have their own businesses but they have a sense of identity being part of our team and find camaraderie in a way that they don’t find other places which is refreshing. We work as a team rather than disjointed pieces of an operation.

CONNECT WITH REINA
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I hired my first employee, Dana, when I was still fulfilling orders out of my house. I was at a point when shipping boxes lined my hallways and I just physically could not keep up with the day to day tasks of running my business alone. Today I have ten employees (whom I call my Lulus) who handle everything from packaging products to packing up orders or running the store. Dana now handles customer service and shipping. Often, our best customers end up working for me - I like to hire them because they’re as obsessed with the products as I am. One of our earliest customers actually ended up being our social media director - and she lives across the country! I also like to hire women with children because they can multi-task like crazy.

CONNECT WITH JESSIE
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We have one full time team member and one part time team member. As they represent our brand, they need to share our values and tone. They must be flexible, willing to pitch in no matter the task, able to easily approach customers in the shop and make conversation.

CONNECT WITH STEVE & JILL
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Yes! I currently have 2 women who work with me on a regular basis - one as a digital content manager and one as an in-house graphic designer and all-around right-hand woman. For me, the decision to hire out came when I realized I was spending my time on things that didn’t light me up and weren’t effective uses of my time.

The biggest thing I look for when bringing on help is trust. If I trust you, you’re in for life. I’d much rather teach someone who’s trustworthy details about a job than bring on someone just for their qualifications but not be able to trust them or communicate with them.
CONNECT WITH TIFFANY
WEBSITE | INSTAGRAM | PINTEREST | PODCAST (SUBSCRIBE IN ITUNES)

Yes, I have three full time team members, two part time team members, and a handful of creatives such as photographers that I work with on a weekly basis. I knew I needed to hire someone pretty quickly because I was working full time at another job when I started WOM, so I brought on Kat four years ago as an unpaid intern who is now my full time Editorial Director. I know it’s hard to delegate and trust anyone with your dream, but it’s the only way you’ll grow. You need to let go of the tasks that someone else can handle, ie. social media, administrative duties, etc., and focus on what only you can do best. As far as what do I look for; nothing trumps loyalty, but hard-working and self-starting are pretty dang close.

CONNECT WITH MANDY
WEBSITE | SHOPPE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | INSTAGRAM | PINTEREST | BLOG

Yes… I knew that If I was going to open up a retail shop I was going to have to have it staffed full time. Shelby is at the shop full-time and then we have a couple part-time girls that fill in here and there. I have about 3-4 free lance designers that help for wedding production and on-site work. As far as what I look for in an employee… I need someone who will take initiative and just get stuff done.

CONNECT WITH LESLEY
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We do! We have an amazing small team here at Snippet & Ink! I was once taught that sometimes you hire for personality and you can always train them while you go! That’s worked really well for us because now we have employees and contributors that are passionate about our mission, which is to curate and share meaningful content.

CONNECT WITH CHRISTINA
WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | INSTAGRAM | PINTEREST | BLOG | CHRISTINA'S INSTAGRAM | CHRISTINA'S WEBSITE

My current team consists of 6 people including admin, communications strategists, business development, creative producer + stylist, and in-house artist. Back when I had my wedding planning company, I started out having paid interns and even family members of whom I paid to help me out. Eventually, I had to hire help outside of my comfort, meaning I actually had to put together a real job description and ad. That was when I began to take my business seriously. Hiring is not the easiest part of my job. You have to be pretty self-aware and know your business well enough to bring someone on. I’m constantly learning how to improve as a leader, but I will say that creating a corporate culture that fits my brand and style has been very important. I think of my team as a part of my extended family – I look for those with passion, drive, energy, reliability and those who are fans of our work. It’s important to surround ourselves with advocates and supporters. I really enjoy my team and they in turn enjoy working with me – I think that should always be the case especially since we are working so hard for a greater purpose. If at any point, you feel unfulfilled or unhappy – you have to ask yourself “why?”. That goes for both the business owner and staff.

CONNECT WITH MARY
WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | INSTAGRAM | PINTEREST | BLOG | SKETCHBOOK SERIES INSTAGRAM

I have 2 co-directors at Makers Collective, and I literally couldn’t do this without them (I wouldn’t want to, either!) My co-founder, Lib, and I started this organization as casual friends but we have become kindred spirits. The same sentiment goes for our other director, Jen, who made the mistake of asking if we wanted help after our first event (we never let her go). What we looked for in each other was a united passion, skills and strengths that complemented, and an unceasing work ethic. We have one part-time staff member who we are slowing getting better at delegating more to, temporary staff for events, and numerous volunteers that help out with projects throughout the year or organizational needs. Letting go is hard when the work is your baby, but we have never once regretted getting more help.

CONNECT WITH ERIN
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