October 25, 2021
Online entrepreneurs started businesses to be flexible, independent, and fulfilling. Entrepreneurs are a special breed; we will fight and exhaust ourselves in the interest of fReEdOm so we don’t have to be beholden to the needs of another person.
The fact is, asking for help is often the key to growth. In this post, Meg Baker of the online business hiring agency and Kira La Forgia, of Paradigm Consulting break down the 4 most common (and cringey) hiring myths in our industry.
Written by Mallory Auth based on content by Meg Baker and Kira La ForgiaFor a video replay of Meg and Kira’s discussion, please CLICK HERE!
When it comes to running a business and leading a team, there are a lot of harmful myths circulating around the internet. A lot of us started our businesses because we wanted to do things differently, and be more inclusive. These myths go against those goals. So if you are an entrepreneur who cares about diversity, equity, and treating others better than employers in traditional settings, keep reading. This one is for you. Let’s talk about online business hiring myths!
Of course, it’s important to be agile in the new kind of business landscape that we’re living in. It wasn’t that long ago that the world turned upside down, and many people’s lives and careers were changed forever. When we’re working with small, powerful, remote teams there are so many ways to do things right, but there’s also a lot of ways to do things wrong. And it starts with how we source our teams in the first place.
As entrepreneurs, we get into this mode of thinking that because we’re highly confident, we have great ideas, we’re often really good at a lot of things, we should be able to find people, hire people, and get the help just as easily as it was when we started to see success as solopreneurs. We already know how capitalize on the things we’re already so natural at, so how hard can it be? And that is true, most entrepreneurs are really great managers – of businesses, of teams, and even of their home lives and families. But when things get watered down by what we see on the internet, we’re actually doing the opposite of good when it comes to finding the right people to be on our teams.
It’s time to go through some of these myths, set the record straight, and give you the permission you need to go about running your business in a better way.
When it comes to your first hire, in some ways you just need to pull the trigger and do your best, but there are things you need to consider before, there is such a thing as readiness when it comes to hiring.
One of the most important things is being ready to take responsibility to manage people. It’s humans that we’re dealing with, after all. So there is a seriousness that goes into it. Sometimes people do hold off on getting a team when they need it, but there are some things that go into being ready to hire, and a lot of that is being ready to take responsibility and lead your team.
When it comes to hiring before you’re ready, there’s a little bit of money stuff to consider, there’s a little bit of time and effort to consider, but there’s also just the willingness to be a member of a team, even as a leader. We teach leadership as “we work for our people” because at the end of the day our people are working for us, and they’re working for our clients, but if our people feel supported by us, then they are going to do a better job and our clients are going to be better served. That is actually going to expand the bottom line, and that is kind of the point of hiring, to increase client capacity. I think when we’re talking about “hiring before you’re ready”, we need to ask, “what do you mean by readiness”? Because if you’re not ready to lead and be accountable for the experiences of other humans, then you’re not ready to hire. But if you’re ready to be accountable for being a real leader and a real manager, then mostly everything else can fall in line. I know everyone in online business loves to hate HR, but I promise HR is a tool for you to make these things work for you and to make you feel more ready.
Leading imperfectly is the jam. You’re never gonna be fully ready to be the best leader on earth, because the fact is everyone you bring into your orbit is going to need a different type of leader, motivation, and support. Not one type of leadership is better than the other. It’s just remembering that being a manager and being a leader are essentially the same thing. People don’t like to acknowledge that management is part of being a great leader, and in turn, a great boss. But just know that it’s okay to show up exactly how you are, screw up along the way, and be humble. That humility is what makes us the most ready to take these steps.
People stress the importance of “listening to your gut” when making hiring decisions, but that is not how you should go about it at all! There needs to be some objectivity that goes into hiring.
The advice that we’re seeing out there is “listen to your gut when interviewing, if you like the person then go with it”! That’s not it, folks! That’s totally appropriate when it comes to looking for a partner, dating, finding someone you want to be with for the rest of your lives, even our close friendships. Of course, in those situations you listen to your gut.
But when it comes to hiring a team, it’s more about what skills are actually on paper and the skills they can bring to your company. One of the skills people are overlooking is looking for a diverse perspective, looking for people that come from a different background than you. Our gut will tell us to go with what is comfortable and easy, creating more of the same, systemically problematic hiring practices.
We think people are being short sighted when they are putting that advice out there to others in our space who look up to them. That advice is creating is companies full of clones of the same people, people that are privileged, often white, and that’s not what we are about in this industry.
We want to change things from the ground up, do something better, do something different. It’s not about avoiding hiring white people, it’s about being aware of the decisions we’re making and being strategic for our business in how we are bringing diversity on board so we can better serve a wider audience, serve a wider client, and have a better understanding of the experiences of people who are different from us. That will make us a more successful company over time.
There’s a certain speed that we can take to slow down, and be really conscious that instead of just filling a role, we’re taking a look at the whole picture and taking the time to question ourselves. A lot of times the reason we may like one candidate over another stems from systemic problems. For example, this person went to a better school, this person had an unpaid internship, this person has high level references, stuff like that. It’s just creating a situation where the rich, white people are getting more and more opportunities. It’s really about asking those secondary questions then maybe you wouldn’t before, “is there a reason I’m more comfortable with this candidate”?.
When we talk about listening to our gut, let’s talk about what is making us uncomfortable, and figuring out why our gut is telling us something. Not, “oh my gut feels great about this person”, and that is valid too, you want to feel comfortable about the person you’re going to be working with. But listen to your gut, and instead of saying, “my gut feels good”, think, “my gut feels weird about this, let’s be really honest and reach out to my recruiter, or HR person, or peer about this because of my past biases”. We want to flip this on it’s head and figure out what listening to our gut really means.
I don’t want to stand up here and preach when I am still learning (we talked a lot about this in the Aligned Business podcast)… I’m just really excited to share what I have learned, and what I have been trying to unlearn over the last ten years when picking and choosing how I’m going to interact with applicants, and the chances that I am giving people as a person of power. Going back to the hiring/dating thing, it might feel like that because dating is the only other time where we’re sitting down and talking to humans. But it’s not like that. This is a job. It shouldn’t feel like dating at all. We need to have boundaries. You don’t want it to be like dating because then you have a weird relationship with team members that involves crossing boundaries and exhausting everybody. At the end of the day, there are a lot of problems with this myth.
Sometimes people are scared of the accountability needed to have an employee, but the level of support they need to truly grow cannot come from a contractor.
“Easy come, easy go” always comes to mind when thinking about contractors. But when you are bringing on an employee, it’s intentional and takes extra work to ideate the role, implement a hiring process, research the logistics, and then embrace the leadership piece. It’s not easy, but it’s attainable. It’s just about the energy and the intention behind the actions.
Once you do it once, maybe twice, and you learn how to do it, it becomes easier. For me personally, having employees has been a game changer. Yes, there are more responsibilities I have. I have to keep an eye out for what to do to stay compliant, and I have to have cash for payroll. But the investment I’m getting back from doing the hard thing and kind of stretching myself a bit has been really amazing. Personally, I feel like having team members in my corner is really helping me uplevel. They are scaffolding me and supporting me as I stretch. The best personal development is leading a team and having employees.
This is not to say that there isn’t a mindset shift that happens when you become accountable to another person who is being supported by your business. Our time and money is precious, and hiring and building a long term team of employees requires you to stretch yourself more than you have before.
This feeling of fear, anxiety, or even hesitation is a good thing.
Kira says, “Even after the better part of a decade hiring hundreds of individuals for someone else’s business, it is still one of the biggest personal decisions to make when I decided it was time to broach this journey of hiring employees for my OWN business.”
Even knowing the logistics behind it, it’s still scary. And that is because you CARE.
If you want someone who is dedicated to your company and does not run their own business, the contractor to employee thing can be a little dicey, sometimes you just need to make the leap to hire an employee. You have your beautiful “Linda’s of HR” on the internet [hey!], who can help you if you’re trying to make these informed decisions.
This is what I like to think of as the “ultimate corporate cop-out”: let’s take our time, put our recruiters to the test, make them do a bunch of extra stuff to get people on board, and make people stick around for a long time waiting for this job. This is super problematic because they have other work to do and other opportunities, withholding is not fair. They take months and months sometimes to hire people. These people could have found another opportunity. It’s really catering to the people that don’t actually need the job.
Hiring slow- like, why? We’ve got work to do! And unless you’re a C level executive that interviews and is headhunted for months on end, most people don’t wanna be dragged through the hiring process.
I think sometimes we get romantic about it too, like, “oh we need to just wait for the right person” says Meg. Well… No. Sometimes you just need to make a decision. You need to get it going, people need to know if they should take another job instead.
Firing fast is another bad management cop-out. No matter who you’re hiring, they’re building up a role, and even if that person doesn’t work out, you can get someone else to fill out that role. After spending time hiring, finding the right person, looking at their skills objectively, doing it all the more inclusive way, by the time you may get to the point where you have to consider firing someone, or maybe crack down on them about their performance, you can be really confident in taking those actions. There’s no need to be hesitant or think, “did I do everything I could”? And that’s why things like our New Hire Orientations are really important, because you set up those expectations from the start.
You should fire someone really fast if they’re not showing up three days in a row, but that’s not what we’re talking about here. The people we’re hiring for remote positions are not the same thing, we’re not dealing with the same stuff as the people who came up with this advice are dealing with. It’s not the same standards. It’s deeper, more impactful, and more nuanced than that. That advice is not appropriate for our industry, let alone in today’s work climate.
If you’re thinking of hiring help, you may be so far past figuring how to do this alone. We recommend Meg K Co. an inclusive, conscious hiring agency for emerging online entrepreneurs. Imagine, just showing up to interview perfectly matched, curated candidates that are excited and ready to help you grow your business. Meg and her team take all the guessing out of an already unpredictable process. And they make it fun!