If you had a chance to sit down with a world-renowned businessman, what would you ask?
As an entrepreneur, you’d likely want him to go back to the point where you are and find out what crucial decisions he made to help his business go big.
Blake Mycoskie, Founder and Chief Shoe Giver of TOMS, is one of the top young businessmen in the world and perhaps the most visionary entrepreneur in forming social-minded businesses and consumers.
On the podcast this week, I sit down with Blake to talk about his entrepreneurial journey. Blake shares a fascinating story of how he became a fashion mogul by giving shoes away through his One for One model, and he gives some powerful advice regarding you as an entrepreneur.
During the interview, I hone in on the three critical hires he made to scale up his business during the embryonic stage of TOMS.
#1: A Detail-Oriented Operations Manager
If your business is growing, you’ve probably wished there was more of you to go around. Success has its difficulties and there comes a time when you should no longer be alone as an entrepreneur.
If your business is growing, you’ve probably wished there was more of you to go around.
“I think that, at first, you just need a body to help you,” Blake says.
The first critical hire Blake made was someone to help him run all the operations for TOMS. This person played a major role in propelling the business forward. Beware, though, of cloning yourself or finding a “mini-me”. Blake found someone he could work well with, but also had strengths in areas where he needed the most help — like having a background in operations and being detail-oriented. Together, they formed a balanced team and worked out many of the logistics needed to help TOMS run smoothly.
Most entrepreneurs are visionaries like Blake who need support in operations. If you feel this description fits you, this list is a good start in what type of person you should be looking for.
The person you hire should:
- • Have a Clear Understanding of the Company’s Vision
- • Have a Deep Knowledge of Your Customer
- • Deal Effectively With Your Staff
- • Contribute to Your Organization’s Financial Performance
When you’re starting something new, it takes a lot of momentum to bring your ideas to fruition. Make sure the person you hire is bought in and fully participating in the overall vision. If they are, they will make decisions that are in harmony with the culture and mission of the company. For ideas on how to communicate your vision to this new hire and the rest of your staff, listen to this interview with Ken Blanchard.
At TOMS, customers are doing more than just buying shoes. They are also helping a child in need get a pair of shoes. They are making the world a better place. This is meeting a philosophical need in their customer. At StoryBrand workshops, we teach you to speak to your customer’s needs at multiple levels. In your business, hire someone who understands your customer and knows how to address their needs.
Whoever you hire will be responsible for your company’s most critical asset — your people. They should have excellent communication skills and create a positive learning environment. Not only should they have a clear understanding of the company’s vision, they should be able to communicate it to your staff in a way that rallies everyone around your company’s goals. Your organization won’t grow unless your people are motivated.
Remember, Blake hired someone who was detail-oriented. The person you hire should know the nerdy side of your business — like how to prepare sales projections and expense budgets, and analyze profit and loss statements and balance sheets. You need someone to take care of the details that drain you from what you should be doing — leading.
Be thoughtful about the person you hire. Assess your own abilities and make sure your operations manager will work well with your style and bring balance to who you are — the visionary leader. Your decision will simplify your days and contribute directly to your organization’s success.
2: A Talented Salesperson
After you’ve found someone to help run your business, the next thing you should do is search for someone to help grow your business.
“That’s sales,” Blake explains.
Even if you’re good at sales, believing you’re the one who should be doing the selling is one of the biggest mistakes you can make as a leader.
The second really important hire Blake made was a fantastic salesperson. Though Blake felt he was doing well at selling the vision of TOMS, when it came to selling the product, he needed to hand the position off to a legitimate salesperson. Even if you’re good at sales, believing you’re the one who should be doing the selling is one of the biggest mistakes you can make as a leader.
A few weeks ago, we learned from Anthony Iannarino what it takes to be great at sales. According to him, the salesperson you hire should have these qualities:
- • Be Self-Disciplined
- • Be Caring
- • Be Resourceful
- • Have Business Acumen
Sales is about having the self-discipline to follow a set of rituals day-in-and-day-out. Routines such as prospecting, following up on opportunities, and booking face-to-face appointments will deliver results. Make sure your hire has already established rituals that provide a proven, successful history in sales.
The best salespeople are others-oriented. They’re interested in finding out how to help their customers. They seek to gain trust from their prospective clients and build lasting relationships.
Great salespeople find innovative answers to your customer’s needs. They also discover ingenious ways to gain the attention of prospective clients.
As TOMS began to grow, Blake realized that he not only lacked the passion for sales, he lacked the skillset. He needed someone with more industry knowledge to make the business grow. He sought to find a salesperson who had experience in selling footwear and who knew how to handle big sales accounts. Find a salesperson who has industry knowledge and can take your product to the most important clients in your field.
Your sales hire will become the engine of your business. If you bring a fantastic salesperson to your team, your business will grow in leaps and bounds.
# 3: A Gifted Head of Production
What happens if your salesperson secured some big accounts but you don’t have enough product to meet the demand? Not only would it be a bit embarrassing, it might cause you to lose some business (and trust).
Blake says the third person you should hire is someone who makes sure that you deliver what you sell. At TOMS, it’s the head of production who fills that position.
A head of production will need to have many skills. Some of them include:
- • Understanding the processes to transform raw materials into a product, whether you’re producing a good or a service.
- • Controlling all the resources to produce a company’s goods and services.
- • Communicating with marketing about capabilities and limitations so salespeople aren’t making promises they can’t deliver.
- • Coordinating your processes so that the entire chain operates seamlessly.
This position runs the core function of your company. Without it, there are no products to sell. If you want to save time, avoid hassles, and reduce cost and effort, hire someone who understands the process of production and communicates well with your various teams.
Scaling up your business isn’t easy. Growth is always accompanied by growing pains. But if you take the time to make these three important hires, you’ll simplify your business processes, you’ll reduce your stress level, and your business will grow.
Blake Mycoskie is such an inspirational business leader. I learned so much from this interview. When you listen to how he’s built his business, you’ll feel motivated to grow your own company and perhaps find unique ways to help others too.
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