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Issue #16: Stop Hiring People Like You

(Note: Sorry for missing out last week. I was celebrating my birthday (🎂) and in the midst of the exc

James Costa

July 4 · Issue #16 · View online
A batch of thoughts, resources, and motivation from a friendly digital agency owner delivered every Monday at 6am ET.

(Note: Sorry for missing out last week. I was celebrating my birthday (🎂) and in the midst of the excitement didn’t get a chance to ship off my thoughts for the week, but haven’t forgotten! Now, back to our regular scheduled programming…)
We’re not perfect, and I’m not sure why we expect others to be. Don’t get me wrong, we should always push each other, but somewhere along the lines I think we forget that we’re all human. Through analyzing our analysis of others, I realize that part of it allows us to learn about where we should focus our attention (i.e. if we don’t feel someone is good at customer service, we might realize the importance of customer service), but part of it also allows us to build good teams.
Which brings me to the last few weeks trying to hire a business developer. We haven’t had a business developer before. To this point, sales has been led by myself. As far as I was concerned, the only person who could lead sales was myself (this might seem like a familiar sentiment to some of you). Which is great, except it makes sales harder to scale. Every time I approached hiring someone else to do sales, I would draw a blank. In my head, the only way to scale sales would be to hire another me.
But here’s the thing: I suck at sales. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve been able to sell effectively for the past 7 years - but I have a strong belief that that’s due to the great work our team does, and the clear value we provide. And yet for the longest time what I was looking for while passively trying to find a business developer was another me, when I really need someone who is nothing like me.
So here it is: you shouldn’t be hiring people like you. You should be hiring people who are better than you. Every hire will come with strengths and weaknesses, but you have to understand the strengths you’re looking for, and the weaknesses you’re willing to overcome.
To understand this effectively, you should look at the people who are already doing the job you’re looking for this new person to do. What do they do well? What do they do poorly? For me, I feel confident talking about our services and building genuine relationships, but I’m awful at proposals and pitching to larger businesses. We need a little more of the latter right now, so that helps me focus on someone more analytical and results-driven who can still carry themselves well in a meeting (and not just a smooth talker).
This past couple weeks has been enlightening when it came to hiring someone to do sales, as it forced me to answer tough questions about where I wanted sales to be that I had never had to answer before. We want sales to grow from (roughly) $1m in yearly revenue to $3m in 3 years. Our numbers are based in growth we’ve seen, based on the types (and sizes) of projects we’re aiming for, and ultimately the size of team we’d like to be (20 - 30 people).
We still have a lot of learning to do, but have found analyzing ourselves before analyzing others helps us to find the people we’re looking for easier, and sometimes the toughest questions are easiest to answer when you’re put on the spot by an applicant interested in the position. And, ultimately, we really don’t need another James.
P.S.: If you enjoyed this week’s issue, I’d really appreciate your support sharing this newsletter. Whether it’s a forward, a Twitter post, or writing the URL of this week’s post in the sand, it would mean the world to me.

Good Reads
Just Start
How being a parent and an entrepreneur can be good for business
7 Problems Growing Design Teams Face
The Four Dimensions of Job Fulfillment — And a Map to Find Them
Don’t let anyone overpay you
Weekly Motivation
“Never hire someone who knows less than you do about what he’s hired to do.” - Malcolm Forbes
In Closing
This week I get to celebrate remote work by working from a cottage for the week. It’ll be tough to fight off the distractions of three excited kids and a beautiful lake view, but I’ll be fighting the good fight. Hopefully?
If you have any questions or I can help you in any way, all you have to do is respond to this email.
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