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entrepreneurs

Why I Hire Business Owners over Employees

By | entrepreneurs | No Comments

I’ll be the first to admit, I am super cost conscious and risk adverse when it comes to staffing – aka, cheap and a wuss. Maybe a bit of a commitment-phobe too. I like to compare hiring business owners, to buying a turnkey company. Instead of hiring the staff, building the processes, etc, you get to skip all that mess, and get to the good stuff.

In my experience, for a number of reasons, I always prefer hiring business owners over employees.

Before I get to the good however, it’s important to understand and expect the “bad.”

Cost

Hiring a business owner, freelancer, or consultant tends to cost you a bit more than an employee. Some might expect the opposite, but if you are hiring talent, you are going to pay decent money – especially if they are successful talent.

Being a business owner is a tough task. Clients will try and push you around, employees will attempt to take advantage, and so you learn to have pretty thick skin. As a result, business owners are more likely to assert themselves more aggressively when it comes to asking for rate increases or in contract terms. Unlike most employees, business owners generally aren’t going to put up with your shit – especially the good ones. They will just walk, and if they really want to stick it to you, go work for your competitors.

Don’t expect to get away with delayed payments. Personally, and I know I can speak for many of my colleagues, we do not put up with late payments. If you are unreasonably late, we stop work. It is a matter of respect. If you don’t respect me enough to pay me on time, or at the VERY LEAST, give me a heads up, I am moving on. In my experience, when a client pays me late, it is not a one-time thing. It will happen again and again.

Loyalty

By far the most annoying (but understandable) part of hiring a business owner is that their business is their priority – not yours. You will always, at best, be priority number two, and for some folks, that just won’t do. Don’t confuse it – you are just another project. If you expect priority all the time, you better pay up, or else you are going to be sorely, often disappointed.

Business owners are more likely to understand your business and the information you give them – which they can use to start competing against you in your niche. Even an iron clad non-compete may not protect you. You are giving these people tremendous access and insight into your business. The risk is undeniable.

If you can stomach this, in return, you will get…

Self-motivation

Maybe I am a poor manager, but if you can’t motivate yourself, we are not going to work out. With every new addition to my employ, is another personality, and another set of issues. I don’t have time or energy to manage all of this. Business owners, generally speaking, have figured out how to motivate themselves and don’t need to be pushed. This is a must have for me.

More to that effect, they are self-starters. If they can’t act without supervision, they will have gone broke long ago. This is true with almost every business owner I have ever hired – except for one. Unless he changes this, I don’t see him ever being a success.

Less Training Time/Fuller Expertise

Business owners tend to be better-rounded. When you hire someone, you generally don’t hire them for a single task – you require some flexibility. Requirements change, and you need to hire people who can pivot/adjust/adapt. I am not suggesting that a developer become an accountant, but if the developer you hired doesn’t have a strong grasp of JQuery, he is going to learn everything he needs to about it so he can implement. You aren’t going to have to invest in training, you aren’t going to have to wait weeks for courses, etc. Business owners will take this into their own hands, and execute.

One of my favorite bits about hiring a business owner is they are a business owner. This is someone that has likely been there done that. They are problem solvers, and excellent people to bounce ideas off. They get the big picture, and will catch things an employee, with a narrower, less experienced view would might miss. They have perspective, and I can’t teach that.

By extension, their employees are yours too. I can hire a single business owner, and with him/her comes a team of trained team members. Well that was easy!

The Obvious Financial Reasons

Sure you may pay a business owner more per hour, but have you considered what other costs come with hiring employees? Benefits, equipment, training, etc. And what if you have to fire them? Severance pay (and sometimes litigation), not to mention the time required to re-hire.

Can you afford to pay an employee who isn’t working at full capacity? If I am paying someone’s salary, they are getting paid regardless of whether there is work or not. I would much prefer to pay for only hours worked –right?

 

As a business owner, especially a new one, there can be so much volatility, and committing to employees is often a hell of a leap. Not having any REAL employees makes you no less of a business, and if in your industry (like mine) you can get away with it, I strongly suggest you do.

Do you think hiring employees is a better call? I’d love to hear your insight in the comments section below.

Do you have Entrepreneur’s Attention Deficit Disorder (EADD)?

By | entrepreneurs | No Comments

I think this a really appropriate post since I have clearly thinned myself out too much as of late. Those of you who most kindly follow my blog, you have probably noticed the posting frequency has gone to hell. Here’s why:

Since day one, I have always had one constant problem – I get distracted. I call it Entrepreneur’s Attention Deficit Disorder (EADD) but it’s also known as Pretty Shiny Thing Syndrome.

This shit is real folks. I am sick, real sick. There is no amount of Ritalin/Adderall/etc. that is going to solve the problem.

Let me explain: I can’t and/or have a very hard time saying no to pretty, shiny things. Ideas, JVs, investments, etc. are my pretty, shiny things. For some it is cars, for others it is purses and clothes. But for me, it’s adding more “work” to my already-overflowing plate.

You’ve read it before…focus, focus, focus. Do one thing well. Jack of all trades, master of none. Johnny do-it-all. Well, it isn’t necessarily that, though perhaps that is the result. It isn’t about trying to be good at multiple things, but rather just doing multiple things. Back when I was dating I used to announce “variety is the spice of life” and that rings true here.

Is this the way I should continue?

The Frustration

Be Able to Take it

I’m never sure which project is going to be the one that blows up. So many times, at the beginning, and during projects, I think, this could be the one. Anyone who knows me has probably gotten caught in one of my rants about a particular project. Right now, I think my agency is right on the cusp of ginormous growth, but tomorrow it could be the small law practice I am putting together. Who knows? I don’t, and it drives me to keep plugging away at them all.

I am young right now, I can handle it. Or so I tell my worried mother who calls me weekly to see if I am getting my ZZZs. I am going to push myself as hard as I possibly can right now because I can. Because I know that eventually I will have dependents, bigger responsibilities and won’t be able to weather all-nighters (I am currently pulling one). As far as I am concerned, I cannot afford to waste a minute of these more capable/productive/irresponsible years of my life.

Of course, with such commitment comes sacrifice. In the first half of your twenties, your friends are partying, out all night, and aren’t generally too concerned about their careers. Eventually my friends caught on, but for the first year it was not easy wishing my friends well as they left for the bar, and then hearing them come in around 4AM (whilst I was building my first agency site), clearly having more fun than I – or so they thought 😉

Regrets

I have a lot of irons in the fire, and it is not uncommon for me to start something, see some initial success, but then allow it to fall to the wayside. Shortly after I revisit, I see that my competitors have moved in, and sealed up the niche. A mass tort lead gen project comes to mind. Frustration doesn’t begin to explain how I feel when this happens. It is an occupational hazard I suppose.

You know that feeling when you come across a great idea, and those occupying the space are executing like shit? You say, “I could do this waaaay better.”  Had I just had a few less of these going on, I could have allocated some resources this way, and maybe made something out of it. Shoulda’, woulda’, coulda’ right? So frustrating!

Realization

Knowing is everything

If I have over-glamorized this, let me stop right now. There is a lot about the above that is downright stupid—that will go against what any intelligent entrepreneur would advise. Believe me; I’ve been told by a lot of them. And there really isn’t much disagreeing. They ain’t wrong. Here’s what they tell me, usually starting with “[you are so fucking cool but] you know Adam…” followed by something about focus.

The truth is, my best gigs, the ones that bring home the locally-sourced, double-smoked, apple-wood bacon, are the ones I have focused on the hardest, and the longest. Knowing this is very valuable. Knowing this, and knowing when to focus on what is even more valuable.

Diversity

I love what I do. Rarely does a day go by (almost 3 years later now) where I am bored. I don’t think a lot of people can say that, and I am pretty damn grateful for it. Sure, those assholes that have only one thing going on will probably outpace me here and there because of their precious focus, but if the cost is being bored, even for a day: fuck it. I will have none of such noise.

Let me tell you one other thing about diversity. Had I not diversified years back, I would have gone belly up in my first year – I am certain of it. Not because of focus, but because this shit is hard, and doesn’t always work. You need to cover your nut, my friends.

However, You’re not Richard Branson

I am reminded of that song/saying “know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away.” Entrepreneurship is an addiction, and like gambling, it is terribly easy to get carried away and spend all your monies. You want to own a boutique hotel, a sexy start up, a trendy food cart, and hell, why not put up some seed money too?

While I am severely guilty of this, I remind myself of a few things when temptation comes knocking:

  • A bad investment can ruin your good ones
  • You must be prepared to lose everything you put up
  • Look at the state of your current gigs

How to get your fix

Let’s face it: if you have already started in this path of “destruction”, there is probably no steering you away. So how do you have your cake, and eat it too?

Don’t work!

You want to transition the day-to-day management of these projects onto team members synthroid online. You sir or madam, cannot do it all, and by constantly injecting yourself into every day, tedious BS, you will never have it all.

It’s harder than it sounds, but you need to be constantly asking yourself, “Do I need to be doing this, or can someone else?” As my client roster is grows, I have to ask myself this a lot. I am constantly struggling to keep up. Remember to think of everything you do as a process. Once you’ve gotten good enough at it, start to document the process and hand it off. It is helpful to keep scale in mind – what are the bandwidth limitations of this process? Can it handle a load?

Doing aforementioned will allow you to build a bigger portfolio, and allow you to safely expand whenever required. Better yet, because you are not always so tied up, you are better able to divert more attention to projects during big periods of growth. Ya dig?

Build to sell

Gee-golly is it ever easy to get attached to a project you’ve worked hard on. I still have one looming, that has been long since penalized by Google. It’s totally not legit, and yet I can’t let it go. I can’t let it go because

1)      It never saw its full potential and

2)      It is too dysfunctional, in too many ways, to try and sell.

If, from day one, I maintained the mindset that I would one day sell this puppy, points 1 and 2 would be a non-issue. I would have built a platform that was modestly successful, avoiding penalization, and built in a niche that would be easier to flip in. I let my emotions drive my decisions, and while I still made coin, I could’ve CAHSED IN. I had fun though 😉

If you approach with the mindset to sell (whether you end up selling or not), in my experience, you will almost always build a better product. And if you do decide to sell, you will be in a much better position to do so, and move, as Jay-Z says “on to the next one.”

 Consult

Unlike many of my comrades, I got my taste for “side-hustles” by working with clients – consulting. This later led me into affiliate gigs, lead gen projects, etc. In my case, I grew tired of building everyone else’s businesses. Yah, I am selfless like that.

What I didn’t realize until later on was that in many cases, my clients were paying me to learn, to work in new, exciting niches and to ultimately quench my thirst for variety. I didn’t realize it back then because my portfolio was quite petite and I was growing at a snail’s pace. BUT as we (my agency) grew larger, I was working in niches I hadn’t dreamed of, and countries I didn’t even know existed. I picked up the majority of my “skills” from early consulting gigs. So where possible, I would always recommend keeping an open mind to doing a bit of consulting work.

The Take Home

As far as I am concerned, man/woman was built for this. We were never meant to do 1 thing. The sooner we understand that and get to work, the happier we are all going to be.

You can have your cake, and eat it too.