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221. [BIZ BITE] How to Decide Who to Hire in Your eCommerce Business

221. [BIZ BITE] How to Decide Who to Hire in Your eCommerce Business

Raise your hand if you feel like you’re too in the weeds of your business or if maybe you’re the bottleneck.

If that’s you, you probably realize it’s time to hire your first or next employee or contractor. But how do you figure out what position to hire for?

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First things first… everyone’s business and situation are different so I can’t give you any hard and fast answers about who you should hire without having more details… but let’s talk through some things you should consider to get those wheels turning.

When you sit down to figure out where you can use the most support, I want you to think about every task in your business as an hourly-rate job. Not that you should be thinking of yourself as an hourly employee – but it will help you frame this in your mind. Then consider what YOUR time is worth as the founder, CEO, and visionary of your business.

As you go through the tasks and to-dos… consider whether or not you would pay someone your hourly rate to do that job. If the answer is no, it’s a good thing to consider outsourcing.

Now of course, the earlier you are in your business, the more likely you’ll be doing things that are below your pay grade. That’s okay and totally normal. But as you grow, you should always have it in the back of your mind that eventually, you’ll pass this off to someone else.

Okay… so here are some things to think about.

If you’re a hand-made business other makers are likely to be the most beneficial hire for your business. It doesn’t have to be your hands that make the product.

Many product-based businesses can also benefit from having fulfillment support. Do you really need to be the one packing and shipping orders?

These can be a bit more difficult to hire because it does have to be local, but at the same time, that can make it easier because you might be able to find a local college student who is happy to work a few hours a couple of days a week.

One of the hardest things to outsource, even though it’s the most time-consuming is social media and or content creation. It can be really difficult to find someone who can capture your brand voice. And typically the ones who can are going to be more expensive. If your business can support it, great. If not, or at least not yet, I would focus on other things that are easier to outsource because the time, energy, and effort you spend trying to find the right person or coach them through it might not be worth it right now.

If you’re any sort of expert or educator, or the face of your brand outsourcing content creation will be even more difficult. For instance, I can’t outsource writing or creating these podcast episodes. I work with an esthetician who has a very specific philosophy on skincare. It’s going to be really hard for her to find someone who can write educational blog posts in the way she wants them written. She does have someone creating her social content… but that content is in most cases coming directly from those blog posts… so that’s another way you can approach it.

However, that doesn’t mean you can’t get support in the process. Maybe you have to be the one to create the content, but you can hire someone to create and schedule the emails, design the graphics, schedule and post them, etc.

So you can just create the content outside of the tool, for instance, writing an email or a blog post on a google doc and then you can have someone actually load it into your email platform or add it to your site.

You can create your social media captions and give some general direction of the creative you want to use but someone else creates graphics, schedule it for posting, etc.

If you create YouTube videos you can outsource the editing and posting. I create and record the content for the podcast, but I don’t edit it myself.

Just outsourcing part of the content production process can be a huge timesaver. It will require you to stay ahead of the game with your planning and creation though. If you’re using a part-time VA you can’t expect them to turn things around on the spot.

You can also hire someone to engage with your audience. If you go this route make sure you give them a brand voice document that outlines common phrases you use, things you never say, emojis you use or don’t use, etc.

The other thing to consider outsourcing is customer service. Now this one can also be tricky, you’ll want to do a little work upfront to make sure you have some standard operating procedures in terms of how you handle certain situations, canned responses, and clear lines on when they should reach out to you. But it’s totally doable.

I will say though, if you have a lot of customer service inquiries I would start looking at those from a high-level view to figure out how can you actually decrease the number of inquiries you’re getting. If you start to see patterns in the questions you’re getting, how can you answer those before they have to reach out to you?

Then of course there are the more specialized things like bookkeeping, paid ads, etc. These are things that you should understand enough to know when someone else is doing a good job – but that are likely things you should definitely plan to outsource.

Inventory management is another thing to consider. If you only have a one-product store maybe you don’t ever have to outsource that. But if you have a wide assortment of product with lots of replenishment, new arrivals, etc. That is something you can definitely hire for.

Anything that is a specialized skill, and there is likely to be someone out there who can do it better than you… those are things to consider outsourcing at least eventually.

And then what do you do if your business can’t financially support this outsourcing?

For instance… let’s say you currently have a VA who sends one email per week to your list but you want to spend more. But to send more, you’d have to hire them for more hours which you can’t afford to do. Ask yourself this… for what it would cost you to bring that person on for more hours… would those additional emails generate enough revenue to pay for their additional hours?

Okay, what about something that doesn’t have such direct ROI. In that case, look at the time you’re spending on this particular task. If you had that time back… could you spend it doing something that would bring in more revenue to cover the cost of that person?

And sometimes you’re going to find yourself in a bit of a chicken-and-egg situation, right? The business can’t support the person, but you can’t get to a place where it can support the person without that person. In that case, you might have to hire a little bit before you feel ready. Maybe you have to build up a little reserve to get you through those first couple of months. Then do that. It will be worth it in the end.

And then lastly… instead of bringing someone on in a recurring position are there projects that you can outsource, whether in a done-for-you or done-with-you capacity.

Maybe you’ve been slacking on getting your email automations set up. You can hire someone like me to do it for you. Or maybe you want to get started with ads, don't really know what you’re doing but can’t afford to pay agency management fees. In that case, you can work with someone like Nicole Diedrich in a done-with-capacity where she teaches you how to do it, helps you build your audiences, gives you feedback on your ads, etc.

There are a lot of different ways you can get support in your business no matter where you’re at… so if you’re struggling to get ahead, feeling overwhelmed, things you’re spending too much working IN the business vs. ON the business it might be time.

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Hey, I'm Jessica

I support scrappy female entrepreneurs with actionable steps & strategies to grow and scale the traffic, sales & profit in their eCommerce businesses. 

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