Why I Hired and Fired My First Employee
We can't do everything. As entrepreneurs, the acknowledgment that we'll have to let go of some control is a tough pill to swallow.
However, if we really want to work on our business instead of in it, we've got to realize we can't do it all. I recently hired my first employee. I also fired him just a few weeks later.
Am I a jerk? Was I unreasonable?
I'll let you decided.
Except for a few years while in college, I've been mowing lawns almost my entire life. From the time I could sit atop the yellow seat and control my dad's John Deere, I've been cutting grass.
There's just something about the immediate results that I really like. The straight lines, the job well done, and the smell… I love the smell of freshly cut grass.
But, as my business has grown, my time has become more valuable. So, in the late spring of 2016, I decided to hire someone to take over for me and handle the yard work.
My First Employee
Ok, I know what you might be thinking – hiring someone to mow your yard isn't really hiring your first employee.
I beg to differ.
When you're building a business, there comes a point where you have to scale beyond what you can do yourself. If you can't (or won't) scale, you don't own a business; you own your job.
Only you can decide what tasks your employees take on, but the bottom line is, you hire your first employee to do one thing so you can do something else. I hired someone to do take care of my yard every other week so I could work on my book, record for The Ellory Wells Show, work with coaching clients, write blog posts, and spend time with my wife.
Why I Hired My First Employee
I hired my first employee so I could trade my time for dollars, or, rather, the opportunity to make dollars. As a business owner, you don't want to do that, but as a consumer you do. I wanted to trade $60, so I could get 4-5 hours of my time back each month.
$60 / 5 hours = $12 an hour
Plus, in addition to the time it would take me to mow, I'd have to stop doing whatever else I was doing, break my stride, and go outside. If I can use my time to either save or generate more than $12 an hour, I'm better off hiring someone else for that amount.
Why YOU Should Hire Your First Employee
If you haven't already, you should take a look at the tasks required to make your business run.
Do you answer a bunch of your emails the same way? Do you have a checklist of things you must do each week? Are there things you're doing that could be done by someone else so you can focus on other things?
You are the expert of something in your business. There are things you cannot and should not outsource to someone else – things like coaching, creating new content, teaching – and other activities where your personality or personal touch are required.
However, there are always things, like mowing the lawn, which don't require your personal attention. Once you identify those tasks, develop a system to outline the steps necessary to deliver the results you want, and hire someone to follow those steps.
I've had a lot of success using Asana. And, when I hire my second employee, I know I have an outline of what needs to be done and how I want my new team member to get to the required result.
Why I Fired My First Employee
After the lawn care company had worked on our yard the first time, we weren't terribly satisfied. But, we'd been on vacation when they came, so we gave them another chance. After the second time, I emailed the company's support about the poor and inconsistent quality of work and how the grass was too long.
They said they'd fix the problem and sent the crew back the following week. Still, they did a crappy job.
For two days I made the mistake of arguing with them.
They tried to quote me stats and… it doesn't matter. My mistake was wasting time arguing with them instead of firing them earlier and moving on. I spent way too much time trying to change their behavior when I should have just severed ties and moved on.
In the end, I hired a different company – one who's work I've seen. Though they've only worked for me once, I fully expect they'll meet my expectations.
The lesson I learned is not to hire blind, and to not waste time trying to change someone's behavior. There's a fine line between providing instructions and arguing. As entrepreneurs, we're too busy to spend our time on things that aren't important or that waste our time.
More often than not, we spend too much time analyzing and debating and not enough time acting. The cost of missed opportunity is usually higher than the cost of making a mistake.