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A lot of our listeners consider themselves a solopreneur. Maybe that’s you.

It was certainly me two years ago. I was proud of the fact that I could do everything. I wore “solopreneur” like a badge of honor because it meant I did it all myself.

Over time, I realized that I was limiting my potential. I was working way too much (18-hour days sound familiar?), doing things I didn’t enjoy, but also doing things I liked doing but knew that I should delegate. I wasn’t spending my time on the things that only I could do and as a result, I wasn’t very effective.

I was working hard, but things weren’t growing like I’d hoped.

That’s where a team comes in. It’s not admitting defeat to acknowledge that you need help. There’s simply a limit to what a single person can do. As of this recording, there are 8 full-time team members at seanwes. Matt has dozens of employees in his numerous businesses.

We couldn’t have gotten where we are without a team. But it’s not just any team that you want. You want an all-star team. You want empowered people that are given the resources to do work that fulfills them.

Matt and I talk about building an all-star team. We help you through everything from what to look for with you very first hire to figuring out what your employees want to achieve so you can help them get there.

Whether you’re considering building a team in the future or you’re actively hiring right now, this episode will help you know what to look for, learn to delegate, and find and empower the right people.

Highlights, Takeaways, Quick Wins
  • If you want to be a solopreneur, you have to be okay with limited growth.
  • Stop trying to get employees to 100%—once an employee gets to 80%, let them take the reigns.
  • The hardest things to give up are the things you shouldn’t be doing but you enjoy and are good at.
  • Put your energy into finding the right person and invest in them.
  • Hire someone who is smarter than you in every area that you’re not an expert.
  • If you’re young, educate yourself as much as you possibly can on whatever it is you’re doing.
  • Age does not matter; people know when someone knows their stuff.
  • Understand the basics and limitations of the area you want to hire.
  • If you hire proactively, you’re constantly on the lookout for good people.
  • It’s going to cost you money to hire someone before they make you money.
  • Figure out what your employees want to achieve and help them get there.
Show Notes
  • 04:27 Sean: I was looking at the poll results for people in the chat right now listening live, and we have a lot of solopreneurs. I want to get Matt’s thoughts on this, because I think it’s a viable option, but I don’t think it’s a great option.


  • 04:57 Matt: You can only do so much as one individual. Sean’s a perfect example of someone who did a great job and raised the ceiling on what one person could put out. But, as he’s come to learn and implement, there are teams built around Sean and the seanwes brand. That allows you to lift that roof. When you have an awesome team, there really is no roof. Even though each person can only do a certain amount, you get to the point where you start putting systems in place for each individual person, and each one of those systems is helping your bottom line.
  • 05:39 When you’re by yourself, especially when you’re an entrepreneur, there are so many hats to wear. You’ve only got so much time in a day to get all of those things done, to wear all of those hats. Every hat is going to have a certain amount of fires you’re going to have to put out. If you’re one individual person, it really spreads you thin. Creativity is crucial, too, and that can get lost. You’re so frustrated and crunched with time that you don’t have the extra time to reflect and look at what you’ve created. You’re burned out.
  • 06:22 Sean’s always telling me that whenever you start a business, you go into it enjoying what you’re doing. If you’re a hand lettering artist, you’re going to start a business and start getting successful. You’re the only one there, but eventually, you’re going to have to hire other hand lettering experts. You’re going to be the CEO of this business, and you’re not necessarily going to be hand lettering all day. You’ve got a ton of other responsibilities that aren’t more important, but are more important for the business to continue going. It can be good and bad—it depends on the person.
  • 06:58 I hear of some people who are okay with being a solopreneur, hitting a certain number every month or every year. Pat Flynn has a huge following, and this guy has a team around him, but he doesn’t try to maximize the amount of money he gets from his audience. He’s okay with putting out a few things here and there and the recurring income that he gets from affiliate marketing. He’s okay with a certain number, and he’s not trying to push it. He’s comfortable with that number.
  • 07:46 Sean: I think he’s playing the long game, too. He has a team.
  • 07:51 Matt: No doubt. He’s growing, but he’s doing it slowly.
  • 08:08 Sean: It’s more than slow growth. It’s limited growth. I think you can make a million dollar business by yourself. There are around 30,000 single person business millionaire tax returns filed each year. That’s pretty sizable, tens of thousands of people who are making millions of dollars by themselves. Beyond that, it starts to fall off drastically. Maybe a million dollars is a lot to you, but if it is, then you might make $100,000. You have to think bigger.

If you want to be a solopreneur, you have to be okay with not only slow growth, but with limited growth.

  • 09:01 You can only do so much. If it’s just you, you have to do everything. You’re going to get bogged down, spread thin, and stressed out. It’s limited potential. I was here. I was sold on solopreneurship as recently as 2014. I wanted to do it all myself and I was proud of the fact that I could—it was an ego thing for me. I realized that I was doing too much. I was doing things I shouldn’t personally be doing. I should be focusing on the things only I can do. I’ve come to realize, over the past couple of years, how impactful a team can be. Getting great people together can have an impact not only on your business, but on the world. One of my biggest hindrances was perfectionism. It was a little bit ego, a little bit perfectionism.
  • 10:00 I thought, “If I have someone else do this, it’s not going to be done as good as I could do it.” There are a lot of things I’m good it. It’s easy to give up the things you aren’t good at. “I don’t like taxes, I’ll hire an accountant.” Those things are easy to delegate, but if you do enjoy something, it’s hard to give up. The hardest things to give up are the things you shouldn’t be doing but you enjoy and are good at. Once I started giving those up, I realized that people could come on and do that thing better because it was their sole focus. Once they do it up to my quality standards, then I’m free to focus on the bigger picture.
  • 10:48 I realized that if I believed in what we were doing, the message we were trying to share, and the people we were trying to reach, maybe I could personally reach 100,000 people with my personal efforts at a quality level of 100%, theoretically. If I lower that quality to 90% when most other businesses in the space are okay with 80%, 70%, 60% or worse quality, 90% is still really good. People are going to say, “Wow, this looks great. It’s written well, the video’s great, the audio’s good.” I could build out a team that would help me reach 100 million people at that 90% quality. That was when I thought, “Do I want to obsess about doing this myself, doing it perfectly, and reaching a small number of people? If I lower that unreasonable threshold in my mind a little bit, I could impact so many more people in a positive way.”
  • 11:58 Matt: People are always telling me, “I can’t afford to hire even if I wanted to.” I grew up with parents who told me, “You can’t afford to hire.” We worked in the snow cone business, and we couldn’t afford to hire. My mentor told me, “You can’t afford to hire, but you can’t afford not to hire.” It didn’t make sense to me until a few years later when we started growing the snow cone business. I started to get it. After training these people, it allowed me to have multiple hands. It allowed me to think creatively about what I needed to implement in my business to be able to afford that next person. You have to make that choice.

In deciding whether or not to hire, examine yourself and pick your goals.

  • 12:58 Right now, in my business, as of this week, we’ve been in non-stop strategy mode. We’re setting different goals and checkpoints along the year that we plan on reaching. We know where we want to be. You have to decide, do you want to reach 100,000 people? Or, do you want to reach 100 million? If you want to reach 100 million, you need a fantastic team behind you. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having a great team behind you. It’s a great ego thing to run around saying you’re a solopreneur, but there also isn’t anything wrong with having a team that frees you from things you don’t want to do or that you aren’t good at.
  • 14:02 Sean: I was totally set that I was the guy, the lone wolf. I heard the messages about hiring a team, but I thought, “That’s for the weaklings!” I wanted all the fame and the glory. I wanted to be able to say that I worked on everything you see. I was proud of that fact, but it was utterly silly. It was pointless. It meant nothing to anyone except me, and even then it was empty. Meanwhile, I was stressed out and overworked, and I wasn’t doing the things I wanted to do, the things I liked doing. I was just doing the things I had to do. I was limiting myself, getting bogged down, and focusing on the wrong things.
  • 14:51 I wanted all the glory. I was capping my effectiveness and stressing myself out. Right now, we aren’t going to convince the people who are set on doing their own thing. That’s fine. Maybe later they’ll come around or maybe they won’t. Maybe that’s all they want, and that’s cool. For the people who might be starting to warm up to this, who are going by themselves but think, “I see the validity in this. Maybe I do want to hire a team,” what if they can’t afford it? When should they start thinking about hiring?

When You Should Hire

  • 15:47 Matt: I wouldn’t hire right off the bat. Now, I’m in a position where I can borrow from one of my businesses to give a little bit of capital to another business to help hire. I can’t be there as that solopreneur, so I’ll have somebody manage it and hire to help them. Since technically a business might only be able to afford to pay one person, one of the options we have here are virtual assistants. I strongly believe in them and push them a lot. They’re a fraction of the cost of hiring someone in your own office, brick and mortar store, or digital store. It doesn’t take as much money, and they can help with a ton of entry level admin stuff, stuff you have to get done. You can teach a virtual assistant even some of the more advanced stuff. Some are pretty well equipped and know how to do those things. I’m a believer in bringing in the help that way, because it’s cheap, you’re going to get a lot of things done, and it’s going to free up your time.
  • 17:00 Sean: When I was first hearing about this stuff, people were throwing around the term VA a lot. I never knew what it meant, and I didn’t bother to look it up. There may be a lot of podcast listeners who don’t know, so a virtual assistant is a VA. People who say VA are talking about an assistant who is probably on the other side of the world, working remotely.
  • 17:24 Matt: My main assistant, Vicky, works out of Australia for me full time, or maybe more than full time. I have other assistants in Spain, Paris, India, and in the States. I have one in Florida and a new one in California. The ones in the States are a little bit more expensive, but they can do some more advanced tasks.

A virtual assistant can be a great way to get a business going and eliminate the daily tasks you don’t need to be doing.

  • 18:13 Sean: Matt, could you paint a picture of the condensed version of the timeline? How does it look from starting out to where you want to be ideally? Where does a VA come in? Where does a contractor come in? Where does an employee come in? Are any of those switching over, or are they totally different people?
  • 18:42 Matt: In my world, let’s say we start with one person. They’re doing the marketing, getting the operation stuff going, going out and doing the jobs, getting referrals, etc. You get to a certain point where the business has extra money and you’re starting to grow. You have a constant flow of jobs. You can invest in a VA, or a lot of the time, I’ll sub out my work. In the beginning, when I took on jobs that were too big for me, I would sub out the work to another business. I would talk to other businesses beforehand, and I would say, “Hey, I have this work. Would you mind if I borrowed some of your guys and subbed out some of this work to you guys?” If they say yes, they would either give me a percentage or I would give them a percentage, however I wanted to work that.
  • 19:53 It would allow me to take on bigger jobs I could never do by myself. I would make my portion and a percentage off of work I didn’t even do. That was a way of taking on a bigger job, subbing out that work, and making some extra money. After that, I would get a part time person. I still have my VA, whom I hired before my part timer. We have a constant flow of revenue coming in before hiring a part timer. You’re still going out there, in the business working.

Stop trying to get employees to 100%.

Once an employee gets to 80%, let them take the reigns.

  • 20:52 You’re building more, getting more traction going. Ultimately, you’re going to need two people, and you don’t want to be that second person. At that point, you should be able to afford to hire another part timer, a helper for your first person. Once you do that, you have a full timer and a part timer knocking stuff out. If you’re still there, you should be able to knock stuff out quicker. Once you hire the second part timer, you have an obligation to get out of being an operator. You’re working on the market and building relationships to get those bigger contracts so that you can grow your business and hire that part timer as a full timer or hire another part timer, whatever works best for your business.

Get Cashflow First

  • 21:39 Sean: All of that makes sense to me, but I remember being in the position of wanting to hire but not being able to. We had a question here from Brian: “What if you are laying the foundation for a business, and want to have the ability to hire later on? How should you prepare for that?” The first thing you want to be doing is making money. You need that cashflow first. You can’t grow a business for the sake of growing a business—it needs to make sense. You need to have a plan for growth and be able to sustain the growth. Once you have cashflow, that upfront capital, don’t be afraid to invest it.
  • 22:24 You want to have enough money to cover the salary of your employee for several months. I would say that a six month runway is ideal, unless you have a really aggressive growth strategy or something. Number one is to generate the cash upfront. Work hard, and don’t go to parties or travel to New York City and San Fransisco. Save the money, set it aside, and then hire someone. It’s an investment.

It’s going to cost you money to hire someone before they make you money.

  • 23:08 If you want to hire, you need to make money. If you’re tracking with us, you want to hire people but you’re not there yet, now you need to focus on making money. We have other shows about this—the seanwes podcast has shows about this—generally, the quickest way to make money is to do client work. Find a way that you can do actual work and make some money. There are ways to make money by investing, buying products or getting inventory, but it’s much more long term. Right now, you want to get cash on hand so you can hire an employee.
  • 23:37 Matt: You don’t want to jump in too quickly and hire somebody when you don’t have the funds to cover it. Even in my line of work, sometimes we don’t get paid one to two months out of it. I have to pay out of my pocket or the business’s pocket for the employees, because the employees are going to want to get paid. They aren’t going to want to show up, do the work, and wait to get paid. Have that money to cover yourself and another person.

Hire a CPA

  • 24:08 Sean: Cynthia asks, “What legal paperwork do I need to have in place for employees?” The answer is to get a CPA. Get an accountant. You need it. Do it when it hurts, when you think you can’t afford to. You can’t afford not to, like Matt says. You have to have this. That was the leap of faith that came before growing my business. I decided that I wasn’t going to spend $50 on TurboTax, but I was going to spend $800 with a CPA and talk with them, plan for the future. This question alone was worth hiring a CPA. They think totally differently.
  • 24:59 When you’re a solopreneur freelancer doing your own thing and you think, “I hope I pay my bills next month,” they say, “What are you projecting to make in the next year?” You think, “Next year! What do you mean, next year?” I had to say, “I plan to be making this much,” and it was two times what this year was. We started thinking at that level. “We want to get an LLC and set up an SCorp.” They know all this stuff, but you need to know where you’re going. You may not even be thinking about that, but they’ll help you think about that. They’ll help you with the paperwork. You do not need to be dealing with paperwork at all. That isn’t your job and it’s a waste of your time. Your time is more precious applied elsewhere.
  • 25:55 Matt: When you start a business from the very beginning, there are a lot of things that aren’t fun. This is one of them. Like Sean said, there are so many more questions than just what forms you’ll need for your workers. There are so many things you can take advantage of, that you wouldn’t know. I was talking to one of my partners the other day, and he was telling me about his taxes. I was explaining to him how the taxes for Warren Buffett, as a millionaire, are nothing near what his secretary pays. His secretary pays almost 50%, and he pays nothing near that, but he makes almost billions of dollars.
  • 26:45 Warren Buffett didn’t come up with that by himself. He has an awesome team of CPA’s behind him that know how to navigate, file, and do all these different things. I know how to do it, but it took me years and a lot of money to get a great CPA. I had to go through quite a few of them to get to the point where I am now. It was one of those investments that was a cornerstone. It saves me so much hassle and so many headaches.
  • 27:28 Sean: They know the right things to file, how to categorize things and separate things, and they also know how to help you grow, because they’ve dealt with businesses who are at a level above you. Maybe you have a few employees like we did, but you want to hire someone remote in another state. Do you really want to do all the research on that? That doesn’t sound fun. They’ll say, “Here’s what you need to file, you need to be paying state taxes to this state because you have an employee there,” and it’s all set up.

First Employee

  • 28:09 How does someone find the right person? Who is the right first person for them? I have some questions to prime people, and then I have some suggestions. What is the vision for your company? That’s the first thing you need to figure out. You don’t want to be thinking in limited terms. Where are you going? You need to make sure the hire gets you to that point. Do you want to grow bigger? Are you hiring an employee to satisfy something you have right now that needs to be done, and once you get everyone in place for right now, are you good? Or do you actually want to grow bigger? Be strategic about who you bring on.
  • 28:59 What are your personal strengths? That’s what you want to gravitate toward. How can you focus more on your strengths? That automatically makes it clear what areas you need to bring on help. What are your bottlenecks? Where are things getting stuck or slowing down unnecessarily? What’s taking up all of your time? Are there any obvious things you’re doing right now that you shouldn’t be doing? There are certainly other things that aren’t as obvious that you’ll need to give up eventually, but start with the obvious things. These are indicators of where you might want to look for your first hire. Your first employee should be your right hand—you’re going to work with them a lot.
  • 29:59 You’re going to talk with them a lot. It’s someone you’re going to have a close relationship with, whether you like it or not. A lot of people look at their first employee as an expense. “Okay, I have to bring on this guy to help me out. What’s the least amount I can pay him?” They think in those terms. I encourage you to think of it as an investment.
  • Put all of your energy into finding the right person; someone with the right mindset, attitude, and initiative, and invest in them.

  • 31:00 All of your focus is not on their skills or on how little you can pay them. Take that amount that you don’t really want to pay them and add 10% or 20%, and pay them that. Make them feel appreciated. This is the person who’s going to go above and beyond. They’re going to take care of things. They’re going to get you to that next level, and you need to treat them like an investment. That would be my recommendation for the person who, at this point, has been building up capital, has the cash, and is ready to invest. This isn’t for someone who doesn’t have any money and is considering hiring a VA. If you’re serious, this is who I think you should consider for your first full time person.
  • 31:35 Matt: Once you hire that first full time or even part time employee, they become your right hand person. You get them to start managing things for you so it frees you up, and you can back away and start working on the business.

Hire People Smarter Than You

  • 32:01 Matt: Yesterday, I heard a podcast or something, and Mark Zuckerberg was talking about how he hires. He said, “I hire people I would want to work for, people that are smarter than me, someone I know I can learn from.” It’s so true. You don’t want to hire someone who’s nowhere near your level, if not beyond.
  • 32:41 Sean: I would struggle with this, because I consider myself very smart. I’m hoping to relate to the listener here who is struggling with this, because they feel like they’re smart. Think of it in these terms—hire someone who is smarter than you in every area that you’re not an expert. That gives you a little bit more clarity.
  • 33:16 Matt: I didn’t mean smarter than you in general, I meant smarter than you in whatever skill they’re skilled at. Put them into that position in your company to flourish, even if you’re half good or you’ve gotten good. It doesn’t matter. Step away from that position. If they’re right at your level, they’ll eventually surpass you, because they’ll refine their skills and get better than you. That’s what Zuckerberg meant.
  • 33:46 Sean: I know this was something I struggled with. Richard Branson, the guy who started Virgin, didn’t know the difference between “gross” and “net.” Billionaire, tons of companies, and he didn’t know. Everyone’s groaning and wondering why he’s running all of these massive businesses and they aren’t, when they’re smarter than him. He just knows how to hire people smarter than him in every area where he’s not an expert. Clearly, he’s not an expert in gross and net profit, but he doesn’t have to be. He hired people smarter than him. He has areas where he excels, and he’s got it to a point where he works 45 minutes a day.
  • 34:46 Matt: He’s an excellent delegator. That’s eventually what you have to get to, as a CEO and an entrepreneur. It was very difficult for me, because I was a solopreneur. I thought I was Superman, that I could get it done, but you have to get to the point where you let it go and let other people who are smarter than you in those certain things take over.

Earning Respect From Older Employees

  • 35:12 Sean: I love this question from Nick, “How do you gain the respect and trust of your employees when you’re years younger than them?” Matt loves this question.
  • 35:24 Matt: I have 40 and 50 year old employees. I have some subs I work with that are 60. That’s always fun. People can tell if you know what you’re talking about, and people respect you if you’re knowlegable. Whenever I go to a meeting, I know my stuff. I don’t have to prep. I walk in there, I explain my stuff, I go over everything, and I say, “That’s what I know. This is what we’re going to do. Take it or leave it.” Usually, their jaws are already on the ground and they’re drooling. They’re looking at me thinking, “How the heck do you know this stuff?”

If you’re young, you have to educate yourself as much as you possibly can on whatever you’re doing.

  • 37:01 That is the one thing that has made me succeed. It took me a very long time, because I was a student that didn’t want to pay attention in class. It’s not that I wasn’t smart, but I love to build. I love using my hands. I was very good in certain subjects, but I couldn’t sit down to do all the stuff. Earn the respect of those people. Don’t expect them to look at you and say, “Oh, Matt’s an owner. We’re going to listen to everything he says.” Older people will talk over me a lot of the time, and I let them finish. At the end of the meeting, they say, “Matt you didn’t say anything,” and I say, “I already know what I’m going to say. I want to know what you guys have to say. It’s not going to matter if I try and interrupt what you are trying to say, because I’m going to say my piece and that’s it. I won’t change what I say based on what you say.”
  • 38:34 Sean: In response to Nick’s question, you just do. You earn it. You lead. You own it. You act with confidence. Know your stuff, and don’t give a crap about anyone else. They don’t matter. It doesn’t matter. You’re a 25 year old kid, but you have to think of yourself as a 45 year old 20 years in the past. Right now, you’re just playing through the story of your history. You are the 45 year old, and you know your stuff, but this is just rolling back the clock. How should my past look 20 years back, when people know me and I have a reputation as some 45 year old business person? That’s how you operate. Anyone else who doesn’t have the foresight to see you there, based on your current hustle and track record, doesn’t matter.
  • 39:46 You are acting it out. You have to become a learning machine. It’s very simple math. Let me explain how you get good at piano—you play piano a freaking ton of hours. How do you get good at business? You work at it. You put in the hours. How do you learn marketing? You consume, you learn, you glean wisdom every second. If you practice piano two hours a day and I practice eight hours a day, I’m going to be better faster. That’s what I do. I don’t care if someone is 40 years old. By now, I’ve put in more hours than most 40 year olds in certain areas, in the areas I want to succeed. They’ve put in hours elsewhere, and they’re better than me there. You go all out on your thing. I go all out on business.
  • 40:48 I recently did an episode on how to become a learning machine and optimize the heck out of your day (Related: tv145 How to Optimize Your Consumption Habits and Become a Learning Machine). We’re not playing games. Matt knows—he comes in with headphones, he’s on a call. Bluetooth shower speakers, aqua-proof notes for the shower. Look it up and go get them. People are always saying, “You need quiet time.” Yes, I take a week off every seven weeks. Do you? No, you don’t, so be quiet. I know what quiet time is. Sometimes, I take showers and I don’t listen to podcasts. I don’t have to tell you that. The point is, know your quiet time, take rest, take time to think, and be responsible about that, but otherwise, stop wasting time.
  • 41:51 Stop wasting time on things that don’t matter, things that don’t get you closer to your goal. Figure out what your goal is, figure out what’s going to get you there, and then optimize your day and learn from people who have been there before. You have moments in your day, like for Matt, when he’s walking from his car to my door, something is in his ear. He’s listening to things, learning things, talking to people, delegating, or speaking to mentors. He’s optimizing.

Age does not matter.

People know when someone knows their stuff.

  • 42:26 Maybe they make a snap judgement right away. Maybe you look young, but speak with confidence, carry yourself, and just do you. If you know your stuff and you carry yourself with confidence, people will want to work for you. They don’t care.
  • 43:05 Matt: They will listen to you, too. They’re not going to go against somebody that knows your stuff. I have employees all the time that correct me, that say, “Matt, it’s actually done this way,” but I know a ton of other things they don’t know. The only reason I know these things is because I’m constantly listening to things. I don’t run around with music in my ears all the time, it’s podcasts, videos on YouTube, or courses I’m taking. I’m constantly hearing stuff. After I got the knowledge factor down, I started going more in depth. I started meeting with older corporate people and getting contracts with them. At first, I didn’t know how to communicate with them, so I learned online. Now, I’m a beast. I walk into a corporate office and I know exactly how to relate to them and how to explain things to them. You’re constantly learning and adapting to grow your tool belt.
  • 44:16 Sean: Smart people know smart people. You want to hire smart people. Smart people aren’t prejudiced about stupid things, so they don’t care about your age, your gender, or your skin color. They think, “You’re smart. You know what you’re talking about. I like where you’re going, I’m on board with it, so I want to work for you.” It doesn’t have to be that difficult. If you wait until you’re of a respectable age to start, then it’s too late. I want to be a 45 year old with 25 years of experience, not with 10 years of experience because I thought, “People will respect me when I turn 30.” Invest in your future.

My Unique Advantage: Hiring From the Community

  • 45:09 If you want to hire an all star team, good people want to work for good people. Smart people want to work for smart people. Talented people want to work somewhere with purpose, direction, and vision, so you need to embody that. A different Brian asks the question, “How do I know if someone’s smarter than me in an area if I’m not strong in that area? In other words, how do I know I’m truly hiring someone smarter than me instead of somebody who’s just convincing me they are?” There are probably a few answers to this, but the way I have done this in the past is that in the beginning of my business, I do everything personally. I’m a learning machine.
  • 45:58 I don’t want to make a career in development, but I do understand it. I have done coding in my past jobs. I do poke around. I learn the basics of various languages. I watch shows, podcasts, and videos about coding, and that’s not even my thing. I’m trying to be well-versed in all the areas so I’m at least competent. Even if I can’t out-talk someone in that area, I understand it on a fundamental level, so I can at least know that they know their stuff. I don’t know that you can be that in every area, and especially as you scale, you may want to delegate that job. When you’re on a small level, try to know as much as possible. At least understand the basics and limitations of the area you want to hire. When you’re growing later on, delegate to someone you trust who knows that area, who can hire the right people. If you don’t know what a good CPA is, talk to a friend you trust and get a good recommendation.
  • 47:22 I want the core of this episode to be around building an all star team. How do you attract that kind of talent? How do you vet it? How do you invest in it? I have a unique advantage here, because I build the Community, and I don’t have much interest in hiring outside the Community. I already have this pool of amazing people. Certainly, all of them have the option of doing their own thing, but some of them are not necessarily totally sold on that. Some people know they want to build their own thing, and you can’t talk them out of it. The more you try and talk them into joining you, the more they know they want to build their own thing. That’s awesome. I want to support that.
  • 48:11 There are other people who may think they want to build their own thing, but they haven’t thought it through all the way. If you distill down their goals, they might just want to do meaningful work for a company that’s making a difference, to do something that impacts a lot of people. They think they want to build their own thing, but there may be room to join someone. I know that we have a lot of entrepreneurs in the Community, but we also have a lot of people who believe in what we do, who’s values align, and they say, “Yeah, I would love to work for seanwes and possibly build my own thing on the side or build my own thing and leave seanwes.” That’s fine.
  • 48:57 Maybe they want to be on the seanwes platform. There is so much opportunity here. We put out awesome podcasts and tons of people listen. A few of the serious people join, and it’s this epic filtration. I already know that these people are awesome, but not everybody has this. Matt, I want to hear from your perspective. How do you find these people? Some people in the chat were asking, “Where do I go to look for new hires? Should I look to family? Should I look to my friends? Should I look online, like LinkedIn or job listing sites?” What would you say to that, Matt?

Proactive Hiring vs. Reactive Hiring

  • 49:43 Matt: We do a traditional online platform that we pay for, that posts to a bunch of different places online, and we get a ton of applicants for different positions. Vicky has somebody that filters through them, and by the time it’s said and done, there are one or two people that we might be able to hire. That’s one way, the traditional online way. The other way, which I like more, is that we’re always looking for that employee even if we don’t actually need it.
  • 50:33 I don’t like to wait until I have a job where I need 12 other people, because where am I going to find great people? There’s no time. I need them. As I go, I pick them up, these golden super-people. They’re really hard to find in a short amount of time. As I’ve always said here on the podcast, you have to network. You build great relationships with other business professionals, and then you call them up. I called one of my buddies up yesterday because I needed people for roofing, and I said, “Hey, do you know anybody that’s looking for a job in roofing?”
  • 51:17 He knows my quality. He recommended another guy, and I got these three guys to come in. We chatted over the phone, and they sound great. It was like a referral. You proactively hire. We can do that now because we have the money, but I can see how, as you’re growing, that could be more difficult. Even then, you still want to build that relationship. Maybe there’s a project where you could hire them part time or temp, and you continue to build that relationship until you can hire them full time.
  • 52:01 Sean: I like proactive hiring because I thoroughly believe in getting the right people together and that being explosive. You can do incredible things with good people. When I find a good person, I want to empower them. I want them on my team. It doesn’t matter what the job is, because I believe in the person. I want to give them the resources to do whatever they’re best at, whatever fulfills them, whatever their strengths are. That can evolve and change. We’ll move you to where you want to go, what you enjoy doing, and the best area of impact for you. It’s not reactive hiring, where we say, “Oh no! We have to get a guy! Hurry, get him in here. Find the best one.”
  • 52:58 I see it leading to problems later on, when you make hasty decisions like that. It’s always a chicken and the egg thing. It’s like sabbaticals. You say, “I could never afford to take a week off every seven weeks!” Like our theme this episode, you can’t afford not to. You’re in this place in the middle between “I can’t afford to” and “I can’t afford not to.” The choice is yours. The way to get a healthy life and balance with your work is to take purposeful breaks and purposeful rest, and that’s why we have sabbaticals. Getting to that point is really hard, because you feel like you can’t afford to and you get into Scarcity Mindset.
  • 53:52 You think, “If I hire someone and I don’t have the work for them, what is he going to do? If I take the sabbatical and I don’t know if I can keep doing it, what am I going to do?” It’s this fear, this paralysis, and we tend to retract into our shell because it’s scary. We don’t want to push past it. The best thing you can do is be proactive and say, “You know what, I want to take sabbaticals. I don’t know how I can do this, but I need to start.” That’s where I was, and I did it. It felt awkward the first time. The second time, I thought, “I really don’t have time for this. No, I made a commitment to everyone. I’m going to do it and push through.” After that, I thought, “How did I live without this? How did I work week after week with no end in site, hoping for a two week vacation someday that never really happens?” It’s endless. There’s no recharge or fulfillment.
  • 54:54 It’s the same with hiring. You make the decision one time. Do I want to be proactive or reactive? Once you make that decision once, it’s a ripple effect. If you choose to be reactive in your hiring, you hire a guy because you desperately need a guy, when do you hire again? When you desperately need to. You keep getting back into this hole, and that’s the system, that’s the cycle. If you do proactive hiring, you say, “We’re good right now. We can operate, but let’s find great people and level up. Let’s take a step forward and invest in the future.”

If you hire proactively, you’re constantly on the lookout for good people.

  • 55:45 Meanwhile, you’re building a team of epic talent, and it isn’t this reactive, short-term decision based thing that’s going to cause problems later on.

When Should You Fire Someone?

  • 56:15 Because I believe so strongly in the culture, the work environment, and the people, if someone is disrupting that, I don’t care how much money they’re making me, how talented they are, or how good they are at their job. Money never trumps personality. I will not tolerate a bad attitude. I will cut you out. Make people decisions like that. Be objective about your business. You can’t be emotional and say, “It’s my friend’s son…” That’s not good for the business. If he’s slacking off or complaining, you have to make decisions like that. Be smart about those decisions, and don’t let someone bring down your culture. Don’t let them have a bad attitude or a sense of entitlement. It doesn’t matter how good their talent is—it’s never worth it.
  • 57:18 Matt: We’re talking about all star teams. When you build an all start team, you might have what my dad calls “crybabies.” When I hire a new guy or he brings his son, my dad will come on the site and say, “Who’s this crybaby? He’s disrupting things.” Ultimately, it does. It brings down the heat.

Your company is defined by it’s weakest link.

  • 57:50 Matt: Really, it’s quite sad. When you have nine people come up to you and say, “You’re doing such a good job,” and one person comes up and says, “You’re doing alright,” that one person sticks to you. It’s the same thing when you have a team. If you have one person who’s complaining and making excuses, it brings everybody else down. We’ve had that happen a couple of times, and we’ve had to get rid of them. As the owner, you’re looked at as the bad guy. I explain to my employees, “I have to think about what’s in the best interest of the business, because that’s my responsibility.” That was the oath I took when I started this business.
  • 58:38 Ultimately, you’re just managing this entity. A lot of my employees have gotten pissed off because I fired their friends, so I say, “Look at what great work you do. You don’t complain, you do your stuff, and you leave. I give back to you as much as I possibly can. I’m helping him as much as you, and all I get from him is complaining and not trying as hard.” How is it that I’m trying my best to help everyone here, but one person can’t do the same? It’s not right. It’s a hard, depressing thing, but it’s something you have to do, because it brings down your all start team. If your all star team goes down, the quality goes down, and if the quality goes down, the business goes down.
  • 59:39 Sean: You have to preserve the all stars. If you have an all star team and someone is coming in and disrupting and complaining, it affects the mindset and the performance of your other all stars. You can’t have that. They’ll take down the whole thing.
  • 59:58 Matt: It’s like a poison. Someone said that it’s like a cancer that you want to rip out before it starts spreading, and that’s so true. Everyone else starts getting a negative mindset. If you’ve worked so hard from the very beginning to be positive and build up your employees and then someone comes along being negative to them and bad talking the owner, it sounds bad, but it really is like a cancer. Get that person out of there as quickly as possible. We have a one warning policy. You get a warning from me, and after that, you’re gone. I’m younger than my employees and I work more than them, so how come they can’t give me 80%? That’s all I’m asking for. Just come do your stuff.

Find New Clients

  • 1:01:37 Sean: Ashley asks, “I’m worried that in bringing aboard new people, my clients won’t be so happy since they’re used to working directly with me. What can I do to alleviate their/my concerns besides training the new hire well?” Start thinking in terms of new clients. Stop thinking in terms of converting clients that aren’t on board with you growing and trying to serve them better with more people. Get new clients, get better clients. It all comes down to setting expectations, like, “You’re going to be at my beck and call. I’m going to call this phone number, and it’s going to be you answering.” If that’s what they bought into, I’m sorry, but that can’t be the deal anymore. You have to grow.
  • 1:02:24 You can’t grow if you’re being held down by either by clients or yourself, your own concerns. If you’re going to hire people, you’re going to grow. Different people are going to answer the phones, different people are going to work on the projects, and that’s just how it is. It comes down to setting expectations for that. People aren’t going to be disappointed if you set those expectations. If people had different expectations set, I’ve found that, in most cases, old clients are really hard to convert to good new clients when your business has changed. It’s like the friend who was a certain way, and he comes back as a totally different person. He says, “I’m a new person,” but you say, “Are you though?”
  • 1:03:11 There’s a reason they say that first impressions are key, because they’re so strong. I’m not going to say never, but it’s almost never possible to reset expectations and turn a past client into a good client when your business has changed. Set the right expectations and look to new clients.

Questions to Ask Potential Employees

  • 1:03:37 Robert asks, “Do you have any suggestions for good questions to ask during the interview that can help to uncover the candidate’s mindset? How do you ask in such a way that doesn’t tip your hand and result in a candidate telling you what you want to hear?”
  • 1:04:06 Matt: When we have our meetings with HR, we always talk about how we want the person to have the same vision as us. We’ll ask them questions like, “What are you planning on getting out of us? What is your goal here?” We break it down even more and say, “How can we help you with your vision?” You want to know if they’re planning on staying with you or if they’re using you as a temporary job.
  • 1:04:47 Sean: You stole mine, which I stole from Jeff Hoffman. He asks people, “What is the one goal in your life you have to achieve before you die?” He figures out what that is, and he says, “It’s my job to get you there.” I love that. I think that’s so great. Step one, find great people. Figure out what they want to achieve and help them get there. The byproduct of that is that they’ll help you build a great company, because you’re helping them as well. The tricky part is finding the great person in the first place. It’s really nice when you know a great person or you have the Community, but even if you don’t know the person, that question can be very revealing. What is someone with the right mindset going to say to that kind of question? I think they’ll have thought about it and they’ll have some vision on it. Maybe the wrong person says, “Goal? I just want to work here.”
  • 1:05:59 Matt: Automatically, if they’re not aligning with your mindset and they’re not a positive person, they’re not in line with your vision. Get questions in there that will reveal their intentions and their mindset. I don’t hire anymore, but a lot of people hate the place where they used to work. They want to get out of that and they want to be better. I ask, “What is it that you’re good at? What do you want to be doing? If you were independently wealthy, what would you be doing right now?” They’ll tell me, and I’ll say, “Maybe we could help each other out.”
  • 1:08:52 Sean: I don’t know who this is attributed to, but I like the way this was put—“What would you do if you knew that you couldn’t fail?” It automatically gives you clarity. We’re always so afraid, because we think, “That wouldn’t work,” and we just dismiss it. It gets all of that out of the way. what if you knew for a fact that you couldn’t fail? If you knew for a fact that you would succeed at this thing, what would you do? I love that question. You take it to the next step, and you say, “What if you succeed?”
  • 1:09:28 Matt: People are scared.