Hard-earned lessons from my hiring fails

Jul 31, 2017

No woman is an island. At some point we all need help, right?

But when you’ve been hustling hard to grow your biz by yourself (and getting results, because you’re awesome like that) it can feel daunting to trust somebody else with your business.

Believe me, I understand. I have hired all of kinds of people for all kinds of roles in the past. I’ve hired virtual assistants, copywriters, developers, social media marketers, PR peeps, photographers, event organisers, designers – everyone!

And while I wouldn’t change a second of my experience because it has gotten me to where I am today, I am hoping that some of my ‘fails’ (which okay, are really just plain old lessons) can help you to navigate a slightly smoother path than the one I’ve been on.


To get you started, here are five lessons I’ve learnt during my hiring (mis)adventures.


1. I hired too many people.
When the moolah starts rolling in, it can be tempting to invest in additional resources to help lighten your load. When this happened for me, I hired a virtual assistant and a junior designer almost immediately. Then I explored additional resources like PR and marketing peeps. But I learned that I didn’t actually need these people. That sounds horrible, and I want to reinforce that these people definitely have their value, but at the moment the only sub-contractor I work with on an ongoing basis is my copywriter, Cass. By simplifying my biz and changing my goals, I’ve limited the number of people I need in my biz and made my life a billion times easier. Today, I’m all about living the smart (not hard) life.

2. I didn’t have a contract.
I know, I know, you’re the laid-back laissez faire type who isn’t about pomp and circumstance. Which is why you may not have created any contracts. BUT having contracts in place is less about being pedantic and more about covering your own butt … even if the people you’re working with feel like they couldn’t – and wouldn’t – hurt a fly. I once had a VA that went MIA for a month … then expected me to pay her for work that wasn’t completed. I didn’t have a contract then, which meant becoming intimately acquainted with stress and frustration. Moral of the story: Have a contract in place so everyone is on the same page and no one gets ripped off!

3. I failed to express my expectations.
I’m an introvert that LOATHES confrontation. For the first few years of business, I loathed blatantly asking people to do things for me. I hemmed and hawed but refused to flat out ask for what I wanted, which meant that some people took advantage of my ‘niceness’. Today, I kindly but firmly list my expectations and communicate my needs when I’m working with a sub-contractor. It eliminates any confusion and ensures that we are both getting what we want and need out of the relationship. These days my #1 rule is – Clearly state how many hours you want them to spend on a task from the get-go. 

4. I took things personally.
When sh*t hit the fan with my sub-contractors, I felt like it was a personal. But business is business. Sure, you can be friendly but you need your work done and your subcontractors need to get paid. There is no loyalty either, everyone does what’s best for their own life, it’s not personal (even if it feels like it at the time).

5. I hired for personality not results.
It’s natural to want to work with someone that you like. Nobody wants to collaborate with their arch nemesis. But when I was starting out, I thought that personality was more important than skills, expertise and experience. Today I hire because I like somebody AND I like what they can do for my business. In essence, it’s all about staying true to the goals of your business while bringing on the RIGHT people at RIGHT time to help power your cause.

So with all of that said and done, next time you start fantasising about building your empire ask yourself ‘will hiring this person allow me to work smarter, not harder?” and “have I clearly communicated what I need and expect from this person?”



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