March 1, 2016
Growth  |  5 min read

How to Grow a Fantastic Team [VIDEO]

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Ellis Friedman

Now that your business has grown enough that you’re hiring – or about to hire – people, how do you make sure you’re growing your team the right way?

AJ Forsythe, CEO of iCracked, has been there, and he shared his hiring tips. He emphasized that the first three to five people you hire will define your culture so hire carefully. And remember that hiring the wrong people is more expensive than hiring in general.

Check out all his tips in the full episode:

Not in the video mood? Read the transcript below.

This week’s question was from Tony:

I recently hired my first employees, three of them. Two of them are handling sales, which I used to do myself. How do I successfully shift from being the "doer" into the manager? And how do I make sure that our processes scale correctly? And what processes should I even have in place, now that there are all these people?

AJ Forsythe, CEO of iCracked, has plenty of experience with creating and growing teams. When he and his cofounder thought of making iCracked more than just the two of them, they started by hiring their friends and paid them in beer and two dollar bills (hey, it was college). 

But now, AJ can say that the first three people you hire define your culture, and define what your company's going to be for the rest of the time it's around. The key is to find people that are better at their jobs than you are. So one of the first people he hired was a graphic designer, because AJ says he’s terrible at graphic design and he could either get better at it, or hire somebody who’s better at it than he is. 

And then the next person was someone to help with shipping and fulfillment, because their time was getting consumed by shipping packages out, so we found someone who's actually built and scaled systems before. 

When you're bringing on the first three to five people, money won’t be their primary motivation, because money is secondary to being proud of your work. Because you're such a cohesive team that, if one person doesn't come to work, that's 20, 30, 40 percent of your workforce. Finding people that are passionate, that you enjoy being around, that reflect what you want your company to be. As you're scaling up to tens of people or hundreds of people, finding that first core group that embodies what you want your culture to be and want your company to be is so wildly important.

One of AJ’s initial mistakes was micromanaging. And more than micromanaging, it was, "Oh, should I delegate to have this person do it, or should I just do it myself?" And he kept finding himself thinking, "I'll just do it myself. I'll just do it myself." Or, if he did delegate it, he’d think, "Here's exactly how I want you to do it." 

It comes down to trust, and just letting go, and knowing people are going to make mistakes. So even if you could do it perfectly yourself, and you can delegate it with a 50 percent chance that it's going to get done correctly, in order for people to learn, they have to make mistakes, and you have to let go.

When iCracked was at three or four people, AJ thought that hiring was really expensive. It was his father who said to him, "A.J., hiring is very expensive, but hiring the wrong people is more expensive." 

That’s why now he’s incredibly diligent about the people he hires. His advice to business owners? Take your time and trust your gut. And make sure you know that one bad egg—or one person that doesn't quite fit exactly who you're looking for—can bring down morale for everyone. You can get away with having one or two bad eggs on your staff once you've got a crew of a hundred people or more. But when your whole company is comprised of five people, well, having one person who just can't get along with everyone can be poisonous for your culture and your vibe.

AJ emphasized that you want to give people enough responsibility that they can execute on it themselves. You want them always to keep learning.

As a final takeaway, he ended with purpose. The purpose for your business is the "why." Why are you servicing customers? Why are you coming to work? It's why you get up in the morning for this work. You really try to thrive on autonomy, he said, and mastering purpose.



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