Who we hired first when it was time to scale our web design business

Business & Strategy

There are different ways to run a business. I know people who are quite happy to maintain a certain number of clientele and remain a solo shop for a while. 

Perfectly legitimate option. 

Some would rather build a huge agency. And some want to go in between. These are fine paths to take as well. 

The path you choose will determine what sort of hiring decisions you make, among other things. If you decide to scale, one of those first decisions will be who to hire first. 

In a business like this, it boils down to three options: An assistant, a technician, or a sales and marketing person. 

Assistant

An assistant (or potentially a project manager) is a great choice if you love “doing the work” and hate the details. 

This is someone who could help with invoicing, checking email, scheduling your day, etc. A benefit of this route is that assistants are generally lower paid than technicians or marketing professionals. 

This is no slight to the value they bring, of course. But it is an advantage if you are making your very first hire and simply need to clear up your plate a bit. 

Technician

This would be another person who could do the same work as you: design, development, copywriting, etc. It’s essentially duplicating yourself so you can output more of the work, and they can pick up slack while you are working on the admin and marketing stuff.

This is a great path because you are (likely) already a professional technician yourself, so you have context for what the work should look like. 

It can be hard to measure the effectiveness of an admin professional if it’s not your strong suit. Not the case with a technician. 

Sales & Marketing

Maybe you love the work, don’t mind the admin side, but hate selling. This probably describes a lot of you. 

A warning: I would fight this mindset with every fiber of your being. Your work deserves to be seen. Your clients deserve the work you put into your projects. 

If you are going to go the route of having someone else set appointments, make sales, etc., you might consider finding someone to partner with who is good at sales and client relations and work “together” in that way. 

It might be difficult to afford someone to do nothing but business development in the very beginning, and it also might seem strange that one person (who is not the business owner) is selling the work while the business owner does it. 

What’d I Choose?

I decided on hiring a technician, Sam, who is still with me today. He was able to reduce my workload and double (maybe triple?) my effectiveness. 

These days, I actually do very little of the web design work. And since having brought on a project manager and a social media manager, I do less of that work as well, though I still write all the emails, content, have sales conversations, etc. 

You have a plethora of options here. What’s right for me may not be for you. To help you make the right choice, here are some things you could consider: 

  • How much can I afford right now?
  • Do I love the work?
  • Am I passionate about marketing?
  • What would it mean for my business to be able to output double the creative work?
  • What sort of relationships could I build with others who really like the “people side” of things?

Hopefully these questions give you a great starting point. 

About Me

 
Hey, I’m Steve Schramm. I write about marketing, design, business strategy, and productivity. This blog is my personal “cookbook” to help you design a healthier business through self-directed learning.

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