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The Art of Hiring for Your Creative Business

If you're like most independent creators, you’re not just focused on creating. You’re also in charge of marketing, finance, operations, and everything else your business needs to run smoothly. Growing a successful creative business can take a village.

Hiring may seem like an overwhelming task, especially when you're managing everything else for your business, but we have good news for you! If you’re thinking about hiring, you’re doing the footwork you need to get back to what you should be focusing on: creating.

Finding the right people to help scale your business is an exciting initiative and one that speaks to the bright future of your creative work. So how do you know when it’s time to hire, and who should you hire? Let’s take a look at some thoughtful strategies to build your team.

When should I start hiring?

If you’re seriously considering expanding your team, it’s never too early to start talking to candidates. Time is your most valuable resource and is probably one of the biggest reasons why you’re looking to hire. Tyler Palmer, COO of Patreon, talked us through his process in his PatreCon 2018 talk,"When to Hire" The first step he suggests is to identify the business need by auditing your time.

This can be as simple as making a list of the things you do each week and associating time and cost to those tasks. You can even use a task tracker to see where you're spending your time. The outcome can be eye-opening, as it allows you to objectively determine if the time spent on a specific task is valuable. This exercise also gives you the opportunity to reflect on what you’re good at (and what you’re not).

Who should I hire?

Once you know which position you’re hiring for, it’s time to think about who the right candidates may be. Tyler’s advice on who to hire is simple to implement and easy to remember when you start talking to potential hires.

First, get to know their passions. One of the simplest ways to see if they’d be a good match is to ask them, “What gets you excited?” Listen to what makes them tick, and use that conversation to understand how they perform when it comes to the things that matter most to them. When you ask people what they’re most passionate about, you'll get a better understanding of the interests and skills they bring to the table.

Second, find someone who is different than you. Diversity is key when it comes to high-performing teams. Take a look at the statistics from this 2015 McKinsey study:

Companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35% more likely to have above-average financial returns

Companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15% more likely to have above-average financial returns

When it comes to important decisions, talk to people with backgrounds and experiences that differ from yours. Their fresh and unique perspective will help you tackle problems you may be too close to see on your own.

Finally, trust your gut. If you have other team members helping you interview, trust their gut, too. Being honest with one another ensures the right person joins your team. The best use of everyone’s time is to hire the right person for the job, even if that means waiting a bit longer to find “the one.”

How do I set my hires up for success?

It’s important to set standards for success when a new person joins your team. Have those conversations as soon as possible, so they know you care about them and their performance.

A 2016 Gallup study showed that businesses in the top quartile of employee engagement are 21% more profitable and 17% more productive. In his talk, Tyler explains two different ways you and your new hire can work towards the same goal. First, by defining expectations of yourself and your team. Then, explain what success looks like at different milestones.

Defining expectations doesn’t need to be a rigid conversation. By encouraging collaboration, you’ll establish a positive professional relationship and gain a more engaged employee. Tyler suggests covering these four areas when discussing expectations:

  • What do you expect from them?
  • What do they expect from you?
  • What do you expect from yourself?
  • What do they expect from themselves?

Talking through this hybrid of expectations holds each of you accountable to your professional relationship and company objectives. It also demonstrates mutual respect for one another and defines boundaries that may be necessary for your professional relationship.

Tyler also suggests aligning your employee with your company’s mission by defining milestones. This conversation gives your hire insight on:

  • What a successful first day looks like at your company
  • What a successful first week or first year looks like
  • What you expect them to accomplish within 30, 60, or 90 days

Putting a timeframe around accomplishments empowers your employee to be successful in their new position. This helps offset any questions they may have about whether they’re doing the right things at the right time, or if they’re getting up-to-speed in their role fast enough.

Give yourself the space to create.

One of the greatest gifts you can give yourself is the time to focus on what you do best. Growing your team is an exciting milestone in building your business, and it’s important to give that milestone the thought it deserves. Dream big about your ideal candidates. Your creations and your future deserve the attention it takes to build the dream team that takes you to the next level.