Hiring Strategy for Better ROI with Ashley Cox
If you’ve been thinking about hiring to take some of the day-to-day minutiae off your list, you just might have waited too long to take the leap. That’s according to this week’s podcast guest, Ashley Cox of SproutHR.

Early in business, bootstrapping is essential. But as you bring on more clients, you start to eat into your family and rest time resulting in working more hours than you should or want to.

Some of those working hours (maybe more than you’d care to admit!) are likely taking care of administrative tasks or getting distracted by tasks that are much better done by someone else. Like the hours you spend creating graphics in Canva or the chasing of paperwork. You might have fun with the former but need support in getting the latter under control. Neither of these is a good use of your time.

Before you post job descriptions for all the roles you’d like to fill, listen in to this episode. Ashley and I talk about the strategy behind hiring and why hiring for non-revenue generating roles can truly make a huge difference in your revenue.

Hiring can feel really scary, but I think you’ll see how essential it is after listening in!

About Ashley Cox:
Ashley Cox, PHR, SHRM-CP is the Founder and CEO of SproutHR, a boutique HR consulting firm that helps women-owned businesses hire and lead thriving teams with confidence and ease.

Ashley has been a top recruiter and leadership expert for companies such as Kroger and J.Crew, having hired and developed team members from the newest hourly employees to C-Suite level executives. As a certified HR professional, she has deep knowledge and experience working with small businesses nationwide, from local brick and mortar shops to online agencies to national multi-million dollar companies. In addition, Ashley is frequently called upon as a Subject Matter Expert for the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the world’s leading HR organization, and is an expert trainer for various organizations.

At SproutHR, Ashley and her team help you hire the right people for your team (in the right way), with a focus on values-based hiring, compassionate and intentional leadership, and amplifying your impact. Their work has been featured on the Society for Human Resource Management, ABC News, and Brit+Co.

Ashley is also the author of Transform Your Stories, where she helps women overcome
the stories that are holding them back so they can become confident and courageous
leaders who impact the world. Follow her on Instagram and connect with her on LinkedIn.

Links & Resources:

Time Stamps:

[3:34] – Hiring and managing is one of the biggest painpoints for entrepreneurs
[6:37] – Taking past corporate life and putting it to work in small business
[7:51] – There’s a level of detachment you can have in corporate that you can’t have in small biz
[8:55] – Sense of ownership means you care and will always try to do the right thing
[10:02] – You can be empathetic and compassionate and set boundaries
[11:08] – Sometimes you just have to know what balls you’re juggling
[13:05] – How do you know what to outsource
[13:53] – How to prepare to hire that first or next team member
[15:15] – Are you doing things you shouldn’t be doing in your business
[18:35] – If you think you can do something faster or better than someone, put that thought aside
[20:35] – Hiring non-revenue generating employees
[21:29] – Any hire is making you a return on your investment
[22:58] – What are next level tasks? Focus on those vs filling time with non-essential tasks
[25:48] – We can have profitable, sustainable humans and make good money
[28:01] – You don’t have to have a massive team to make an impact
[31:57] – When we don’t have a hiring strategy, we don’t hire right the first time
[33:38] – How to know if you’re ready to hire
[36:10] – Most people hire operations first to help with streamlining, creating efficiencies
[39:30] – You are a visionary and a creative; details aren’t your zone of genius
[41:17] – Do not hire your clone
[42:28] – Taking a small step back and talking to your ops person will help give you clarity


Amber Hawley 0:01
Business owners are increasingly being pulled in so many directions, feeling like they aren’t reaching their full potential in business and life despite their type aways. With my background as a therapist, entrepreneur, and as a.com dropout with ADHD, I interview and coach high achieving business owners like you who want to stop struggling for success by using psychological systems, strategies, and the occasional care for entation. This is the easily distracted entrepreneur, your place to slay overwhelm perfectionism and shiny object syndrome so that you can get done what matters most to you. Hello, hello, my focus seeking friends. I’m back with another amazing conversation today with the wonderful Ashley Cox.

Amber Hawley 0:50
I hadn’t met Ashley before interview and I feel like we fell in fast friendship. You know, when you just meet those people who you’re just like, Yes, you are my people. So we had a fantastic conversation. And Ashley is the owner of sprout HR, a boutique, HR consulting firm that helps women owned businesses hire and lead thriving teams with confidence and ease. And among myriad, a long list of other accomplishments and major corporations that she has worked for. She is also the author of transform your stories, where she helps women overcome the stories that are holding them back. So they can become confident and courageous leaders who impact the world. So I absolutely love her mission. She’s really funny. And frankly, there’s a lot of good, you know, I feel like nuggets and strategies like tangible things that we talked about in this interview. And it was a lot of fun. So I’m hoping you will have fun listening to it as well.

Amber Hawley 1:53
Before we jump into the interview, I wanted to let you know about the upcoming q3 quarterly goal planning workshop that we are having in the inner circle, I have now made the goal planning workshops are part of the inner circle. So they’re beyond getting weekly co working, and all kinds of training and support and group coaching. Now, you can also join us for just $49 a month and join us for the three hour goal planning workshop where we’re going to break down and decide what is the big thing that you’re going to focus on for the next three months in your business. And we actually break it down into small little manageable pieces, and get it on your schedule. So I hope you will head on over to the inner circle. And join us because it is coming up this June, Friday, June 17. And it would be awesome to have some new faces in who are ready to really get done that big project that you’ve probably been putting off or keep saying you’re going to do you’re going to do soon, you’re going to do next you’re going to do it next month or this year. And let’s actually make that happen. Get some accountability and support with some amazing other people who are in the inner circle as well. Head on over to AmberHawley.com/innercircle for more information. And now the interview with Ashley.

Amber Hawley 3:24
Hello, Ashley, thank you for coming on the podcast.

Ashley Cox 3:27
Hi, Amber, thank you so much for having me here today.

Amber Hawley 3:30
Yes, I am excited about this one. As I have talked about many times, hiring and managing people is I think one of the biggest challenges and pain points for so many entrepreneurs, as I mean, always. And then you go and add a little pandemic into the mix. How much fun? And it turns out, that’s even harder. So Oh, my goodness, so excited to have you here to talk about more of that process of the hiring and and what to do after hiring.

Ashley Cox 4:06
Yes, right. Like it doesn’t just stop at hiring, right, that we have to do something.

Amber Hawley 4:11
I know it’s so annoying. Oh, it keeps doing that. But why don’t you tell the listeners just a little bit more about yourself before we jump right in?

Ashley Cox 4:20
Absolutely. So I have owned sprout HR for almost six years now. It’s hard to believe it’s been that long. I spent the first 10 years of my professional life and corporate HR. I’ve worked for large organizations like Kroger and J Crew and have really been at the top of the recruiting and leadership game with those organizations. And so I love being able to bring that experience from leading teams of 350 plus employees working with organizations that span you know, multiple states, multiple countries, and pairing that down and making hiring and leadership some Cool and accessible and fun for small business owners. That is my jam.

Amber Hawley 5:04
Hmm, you said my favorite word fun. Oh, if you are not having fun, you are doing it wrong. I’m always like, why do we do this? If not for fun? I mean, for funds, and fun, I think those are the two things. But yeah, we should be it should be enjoyable, right? It should be. I think it’s always so helpful talking to people, when I’ve talked to people who have been in the corporate world where they’re in leading much bigger teams or bigger companies, because it gives them a totally different perspective, right. And sometimes, you know, as small business owners who maybe have recently transitioned out of being like a solopreneur, and started hiring teams and started growing, there’s, there’s just that feeling of, there’s no system set up for them. So it’s kind of like, what do I do? Like, they don’t necessarily feel like they’ve fully stepped into their CEO hat yet. And so I think it’s really helpful to get that perspective of somebody who’s had that experience and understands those systems and the structure for also for like, what was I gonna say, retain? I was gonna say, retainment. But that’s not a word retention, retention. Thank you. Have fun, I’m still like, let’s make retention, fun, attainments.

Ashley Cox 6:22
I mean, I’m, I’m down for a word change.

Amber Hawley 6:25
I know, I’m like, I’m not sure that’s making it into urban dictionary anytime soon. My logo on it.

Ashley Cox 6:31
But you’re so right, you’re so right. You know, there’s a lot of the clients that we’ve worked with have been part of the hiring process, in some way, shape, or form, maybe in their past corporate life, and some haven’t, but many of them have been like, well, I own this piece of it. But they have never done the entire process from start to finish from, you know, identifying when do I have a need to writing the job description to actually doing the interviewing and making that hiring selection? And then deciding, oh, my gosh, how much do I pay this person. And then even on the other end of that leading a team within a corporate structure is very different than leading a team and a business that you operate 100% on your own. So there’s a lot of that dynamic shift. And there’s a lot of things that crossover and they kind of they kind of, you know, are similar in both worlds in the corporate world and in the small business world. But there’s so many things that are very, very different that even people who have hired and led teams before, still have that learning curve.

Amber Hawley 7:36
Oh, absolutely. I mean, I’ve talked about this before that, when I was working in like, the.com world, I was, I think my last position was like senior manager of ad operations. And I, in the, in a couple of roles that I had, I had to do, I had to do hiring and so for our, for my department. And so like, I learned interviewing, and like also like, you know, ways of kind of creating, you know, like tests to make sure that they because it was also technical. So making sure they actually had the skill set, you know, that kind of stuff. But and so I felt like really good about that. And I had to manage my team. But I realized, like you said, I did not set the salary, I did not write the job description, I did not go over any of the legal stuff or deal with any of that, like HR took care of that. And there is a level of detachment like even though I cared about them, and I got to work with them closely. There was a level of detachment that I could have that as a business owner, it was like, Whoa, like, all of a sudden, it felt very personal. Like they were like they were, you know, kicking my kid or something. That’s how it felt like, you are you are stealing from my children right now, when you’re doing this thing, you know, and so it’s a totally different thing. When it’s your own business,

Ashley Cox 8:52
I think salutely. And I think too, you have such a greater sense of responsibility for the people that you hire, because at the end of the day, if you botch something up and you’re incorporate, there’s a whole lot of people around you, that can help clean up that mistake, right. But when you’re a solo business owner, and you hire people, everything is on you. And that feels really intimidating a lot of times, and it’s a big responsibility. And I think to that, that sense of ownership means that you also care, and that you’re going to always try to do the right thing. Even if you mess up even if you make a mistake, even if you don’t always get it right. I think just the heart of hiring in small businesses is so different than than the hiring experience of corporate jobs.

Amber Hawley 9:40
Absolutely. Like you said, yeah, there’s it’s there can be greater reward but greater, much greater responsibility. And and yeah, it’s it does feel different because you it’s a different kind of relationship, even though sometimes I think we could learn from that corporate a little bit of that distance, right? Yeah, a little bit. That could be a benefit.

Ashley Cox 9:59
I know I always tell people that, you know, you can be both empathetic and compassionate and still set expectations and have healthy boundaries and hold your team accountable. Like those two things are not mutually exclusive.

Amber Hawley 10:13
Absolutely. But I think the problem when we’re overwhelmed and distract, like, easily distracted, we’re so overwhelmed. You know, if you think about like, going back to this when you worked in other positions, or jobs, whether it was corporate or not, you like you said, you owned your one piece of the puzzle, right? Like you, you have this thing you’re responsible for? Well, now, you’re wearing many, many, many hats. And so you’re hiring someone to take on a hat, or maybe two or three. And so then it’s, it’d be different if, when I think you finally grow to a point where you’re truly in, if you’re just in the CEO role, then it’s a little bit easier to to be able to communicate all the time. But when you’re still wearing so many hats, it’s overwhelming. And it’s very hard then to deal with the hard stuff as it comes in. Right?

Ashley Cox 11:02
Absolutely. Oh, my goodness, I always an analogy I use with my clients I always talk about this is sometimes you just have to know what balls you’re juggling. Some of the balls are going to be rubber. And if you drop them, they’re going to bounce right back. And some of the balls are going to be glass. And if you drop those, well, they’re not coming back, you’re sorry. You just have to know like, what balls in my juggling? What can I drop or postpone or put on hold for right now. And I know like that’s not going to destroy my business. It’s not going to destroy my brand, or my reputation or my integrity. And then what are the balls that these are the absolutely most essential things that we have to take care of, and just focus on those, because I get it. I’m an easily distracted entrepreneur, we were just talking about this a little bit before we started recording this episode. And it’s so important to be able to understand and know what your priorities are so that you can get the right things done at the right time and not just drop all the balls and be chasing balls everywhere. scattered all over the place.

Amber Hawley 12:04
Yeah, because you don’t you’re not showing up as your best self when you’re doing that. Right? No problem. You can say, look it I’m managing 50 balls, but you’re not doing it great. Or it’s like not very impressive. Yeah.

Ashley Cox 12:20
Of course, when you play whenever you’re whenever it is, yeah, yes.

Amber Hawley 12:26
But coming back to this. Yeah, I think, again, like when you have so many things going on, it’s very hard to kind of like you said, you have to kind of streamline and realize what is the most important thing for me to be looking at. And hiring. That’s where it came back. My mind went to just before the love it. Just before this call, I was doing group coaching and my membership. And somebody had asked about like, I need to, I’m feeling overwhelmed, I need to start outsourcing more. And she was like, Well, what do what are the things to outsource? And so I was saying, like, Well, I do have a list of commonly outsource things. But I was like, You need to actually it’s really good and important to look at, what are you actually doing? Right? In a typical week. So whether doing a time study and seeing, you know, these are the things I’m doing and identifying like, you know, what are the things I hate doing? What are the things that I resist doing, I’m always doing late. But I said, you also have to make sure you’re not paying someone to do something you really should just not even be doing right. So you want to delete things. You want to automate things. But sometimes you’re so overwhelmed. You need to pay someone to come in and automate it for you. So I was just having this conversation, that feeling of like, how do I get started and something you talk about that’s really important is about how do you prepare for that first hire? Or how do you prepare before you hire a team member? Or your next team member?

Ashley Cox 13:53
Yeah, absolutely. And I think you’re spot on Amber’s with just kind of taking an assessment of where am i right now. And I know you already overwhelmed you already have a lot on your plate. And we’re saying like, Oh, now do a time study now write all these things down now make some decisions. I understand. And you can’t move forward without doing that. Because that’s the most important. That’s the most important step. And the thing I think that probably my best advice when it comes to preparing to hire is don’t just hire whoever your best friend hired this really bad. Because that person has different needs than you their business is different, even if they’re similar, their personality, their qualities, their characteristics, the things that they enjoy doing the things they hate doing. So I see so much of this almost as a an epidemic within the small business community is that people just tend to all hire the same person and then they all wonder well, why was this person so amazing for my best friend but they’re really not cutting it over here in my world. I’m like house that’s not who you needed to hire.

Amber Hawley 14:59
Oh, So because you all hired the same person, they’re now overwhelmed, they didn’t hire somebody, and then they’re dropping balls. Exactly.

Ashley Cox 15:07
It is it is just like a ripple effect and in a really bad way. You know, really doing that audit and making sure. And also, I would add one other thing to your list Amber’s and sometimes it’s the things that we we do enjoy doing, but we shouldn’t be doing, like, I love to get in Canva and mess around and create graphics, and I will spend literally hours in there. And that is not where the best use of my time should be spent. So even though I enjoy it, even though I relatively decent at it, I’m by no means a graphic designer, that’s why I’m in Canva. You know, like, those are things that don’t seem like they might be an indication to outsource. But if you’re spending a lot of time in there, that’s maybe like a 25 to $50 task, and you should be focusing on those $1,000 $10,000 $50,000 tasks. And so part of your audit should also include, you know, like, I just do simple little dollar signs is this $1 sign is this $2 sign is this $3 signs. And if I’m working on a whole bunch of $1 sign tests, then I’m working on the wrong things I should primarily be working on to dollar sign $3 sign tasks, so even kind of just doing a quick assessment of like, okay, these are all the things I’m doing and put a little dollar sign beside of them, will help give you a really clear understanding of what you’re working on and what you need to get rid of.

Amber Hawley 16:28
Whoo, I love that. And now I’m like, Oh, I know, a training we’re gonna be doing now in the membership. That’s, but you’re right. That is a good point. I start with like those things we hate, but you’re 1,000% right, that it’s also those things were bike shedding. It’s called bike shedding where we’re spending time on things that seem important, but they’re not. And it’s like, that’s not a good use of your time, right?

Ashley Cox 16:51
Oh, I just call it procrastinating when I’m not. When I’m not doing the thing I’m supposed to be doing I’m probably doing something fun that I’m not supposed to be doing. Yes.

Amber Hawley 17:01
And sometimes we do that. But I’m so glad you mentioned that because and I had just said when I when you begin your business, sometimes you do have to bootstrap. So when I first started my therapy, practice a love, like love and 12 years ago, I had no money and I just had a baby. And you know, so I was like trying to figure everything out. So I built my first website because that was something I did in part of my.com world, right? So I had some experience because this is before like Squarespace and Wix and things like pamphlets and things that make it so much easier. So I built my first website and then I was like, but then every other website since I have not built it right until this, there was a recent one where I made a little arm of my business called the easily distracted therapist. And launched I’m it’s actually officially launching next week, a podcast and everything. And I found something that made it so easy because it auto filled everything I was pod page, which was great. And I was like, oh my goodness, amazing. But I’m not going to spend my time doing that even though I could and it’s fun because like you said reading is fun. And same thing with Canva if I’m in there building something, if it’s taking me like if I’ve gone more than like 30 to 45 minutes, I’m hiring somebody, like I’m just got a you know, I didn’t luckily I have somebody I have a graphics person. So like, I already I already know, I’m going to mostly outsource but there are times where we try to do something and then realize like, oh my god go to fiverr This is so dumb or Upwork or wherever you know, it’s not a good time. So I love I love that.

Ashley Cox 18:33
Yeah, like the day I spent four hours editing a five minute video clip.

Amber Hawley 18:38
Duck Lee,

Ashley Cox 18:40
please stop it.

Amber Hawley 18:41
Do you think it’s gonna be fast and

Ashley Cox 18:43
never has and never is if you think that you can do it faster better than someone else just like put that aside. That’s not reality. You probably can’t you probably have one area, one zone of genius that you really can do better faster than everyone else but everything else is not it.

Amber Hawley 19:01
There’s a reason I have a bunch of reels that I created that are not up because I was like this. Why am I the only one who doesn’t seem to get this? Why is it so hard? You’re like, I am done with this shit?

Ashley Cox 19:15
Yeah, and Ohio. Oh my gosh, I don’t know about anybody. If anybody out there is a real expert and can give us some tip please hit hit us up

Amber Hawley 19:24
their reels where they show you how fast. They’re like boom, boom. And then I’m like, I still can’t do it. Like hours later. I have one real I’m really super proud of. Okay, maybe I have like five now. Yes. Make one so you make one. You can appreciate hiring somebody to do the rest. Maybe that’s I like it. I like it. So, anyway, we digress. Clearly we are problem for each other.

Ashley Cox 19:52
We need we are easily distracted.

Amber Hawley 19:55
We are I think or we’re so genius in our zone of Like interests? I don’t know. I like that path better.

Ashley Cox 20:02
Yeah, I’m going with door be.

Amber Hawley 20:04
Yeah, we’re just so interesting. So coming back to so when you talked about like, okay, like figuring out so I love that think about also the things that are positive when you’re figuring out like hiring. I know I’ve heard people say like go through and like, see if you can afford to hire somebody and I can just remember, like when they say that I’m like, my brain just shuts down. I’m like, I don’t care, like I need someone. And I found like even hiring a non revenue generating employee because I you know, in my therapy practice, I have therapists and they make money. So they’re revenue generating. And but I would hire by hired an assistant an intake person first. And she is not technically revenue generating, but she made money because she took care of everything streamlined everything. So I like there was no double booking of clients. There, the billing happened, like all this stuff, so she actually made me money. So my thing is always like, I feel like it’s worth paying for people. So when I started this, my third business, I said, I’m hiring people before the money’s there, because I already know what’s going to happen. And they’re going to otherwise it’s going to be this slog, you know, so 100, I don’t know, if you feel opposite of that. I, what are your thoughts?

Ashley Cox 21:24
I love it. I’m gonna totally disagree. No, I’m just you know, what, what’s interesting to me is that, and maybe it’s because I’ve been in HR for now for like, 16 years. But every single position, I always, always can make an argument that it is getting you a return on your investment, every single time every day of the week and twice on Sunday. Because when that person steps into your business, they free you up to go do more revenue generating activities, or they free another team member up to go do more revenue generating activities, or they’re making your business run better, that’s more streamlined, it’s more efficient. It’s, you know, those might not necessarily bring in money, but it saves money, which creates money, and money makes money. And so I think that’s the really fun part of hiring is that we get so and I did this to y’all, I am not immune to any of the hesitancies around hiring, the anxiety around hiring the fears, the questions, the self doubt, like all of that also was part of my process when I hired my first employee in my business, and when I learned like, Oh, crap, this is very different from hiring and corporate because it was their money, and it was their job, and it was their role. But you know, like, that’s so important to remember that when I’m bringing this person in, I need to be strategic about it, I need to think about what, what are they going to be taking off of my plate? And what is that going to allow me to do? So I always make my clients do this exercise. Okay, when we get A, B, C, and D off of your plate, what are you going to fill that time with? So think about what are those things that you aren’t able to do right now? What are the things that you wish you could be doing? What are the next level tasks that you’re like, Oh, my God, if I could do this project, it would bring in another 100k in revenue, bring in another half a million dollars in revenue, whatever that is for your business, and focus on those because if you do not build it in, right now, when you hire, you will find a way to fill that time up with more non essential tasks, and you’ll just kind of put a little way. That’s not what we want you to do.

Amber Hawley 23:33
Oh my gosh, when you say that put a little way. That is one of my philosophies that I say I see it too. We either whittle away our money or whittle away our time in those small incremental ways. And I can see it, and I see some people who are really stuck in that, like mindset of that of Yeah, and they don’t realize like, it’s all that little, all those little wiggles actually have a huge impact. They make such a big difference. But huge, but like and I’m gonna go to the money part of it. Like I see people, it makes me think of my mom, actually who, she’s somebody who, you know, never had a ton of money grew up not having money, being very poor as a single mom for a very long time and all of this, but she would have like things she wanted to do or, you know, things she wanted, and she was felt like she couldn’t afford it. But she would constantly like 20 bucks here. 50 bucks there. 30 bucks there like whittle away on small things that didn’t bring her so much joy. Didn’t you know, I mean, made her happy ish in the moment, or did nice things for us, you know, as kids in the moment, but like, and she and she made life happen on a small budget. So I’m not trying to like throw, throw Sure. But I realized like, there were things that she would want to do with her life or like places to go that she never made happen because she always whittled it away on smaller things, not understanding, like a little bit of thoughtful This there, you didn’t have to live in misery. Right? You don’t have to be. You can still have the small pleasures. Yes, exactly. Because I think about my people who I have absolute fascination with the the financial independence retire early, I love fascinated by them, but they like live on like 30% of their income and like sacrifice I do not have that level of sacrifice.

Ashley Cox 25:21
I mean, I need a little joy in my day to day.

Amber Hawley 25:24
Exactly. planning for the future. Exactly. Yeah, you know, harmony. But that’s the thing, where and again, going back to the hiring thing, I think we do that, where, where it’s, we sacrifice

Ashley Cox 25:39
way too much time on the front end, and we whittle away all that time. And you kind of bringing it back to the money point, because this is a huge philosophy of mine. We can have profitable, sustainable businesses, and be good humans and pay good wages. And yes, like those are not either, or those are both and we can have both of those things. And one of the one of the things I think it’s really important to just think about is, when you add those team members, it only increases your income exponentially when you do it strategically, when you think about what you need in your business, and what’s going to allow you to free up time or free up resources or, you know, create the kind of business you’re driving for. And so like when I hired Maura, my operations director, she came on part time to start with because that’s what she was available. And I knew Wait, she she’s my girl. She’s going with me for the long haul. I’ll hire her part time until she’s available full time. She went full time earlier this year. But we the first 18 months she was with me in a part time capacity, our revenue increased 92% That’s almost double and 18 money by doing nothing else but hiring a person in her zone of genius.

Amber Hawley 26:55
Hmm, yeah, I’m glad you said she’s full time now. Because you know, everybody was going to try to get her number. Right.

Ashley Cox 27:00
Y’all can have her. Oh,

Amber Hawley 27:02
I know. Let me call Mara. I don’t poach. Don’t be one of those who don’t pay it. Don’t believe people.

Ashley Cox 27:10
Yeah, okay, shitty. We don’t like that. Don’t be stealing Maura. She come in anyway.

Amber Hawley 27:15
They’re on my they’re on my shelf of hate. So everyone who poachers it goes on a list. Yeah,

Ashley Cox 27:21
ya know, about this, and somebody comes to you. And you’re like, listen, I just made the offer.

Amber Hawley 27:29
No, but yeah, Morrow for you. That’s right.

Ashley Cox 27:32
No more for you. But you know, I think that that’s those are the kind of numbers that I would wish that more people would share is when I hired this person, here’s how it changed my business. And let me tell you, we streamline, we offer fewer services, we go deeper, we work with the dreamiest ideal clients that you could possibly imagine. I love all y’all, if you’re listening, you know, it’s just our whole business is just so much better. Because of that one hire. And we’re just a team of two over here. We have contractors that come in and out every now and then. But as far as employees, it’s me and Maura. That’s it. So you don’t have to have a massive team to create this impact. And that’s, you know, something we talk about all the time is, who are we impacting? What kind of impact are we having? Is it within our community? Is it within our client base? Is it within our families? Is it within our communities? Is it within the world? Like where are we creating opportunities, either job opportunities, opportunities to give back, you know, because charitable giving is a huge part of our, you know, business model, we’re creating opportunities for you know, Maura has a son, and she gets to be at home with him and she gets to go to, you know, little kid events. I don’t have kids, I don’t know what kids do.

Amber Hawley 28:49
But you know, they go to a little kid event, like a little kid events.

Ashley Cox 28:52
But you know, like, she gets to be there when he’s sick. And he’s home from school, and she doesn’t have to stress out and you know, she doesn’t have to she’s got unlimited PTO time. And like, that’s what I get to provide for my team. And we’ll hire some more people here in probably the next year or two. But those are the kinds of impacts that you’re creating. So they’re bringing something to your business, and you get to give something to those people. And I think that’s so powerful.

Amber Hawley 29:16
I know. And honestly, that’s the vision that’s my fantasy, too is like I want that where I don’t dream of a big team. Like I have friends that run big team because they’re amazing at it and they’re so good and I love because they’re impacting more lives more people and I love that so that that’s great, but I always knew for me like I’m I rather have that smaller team where they’re more all in I have Amara I said, I have Melissa Morris who? Oh, yes. And I said, my fantasy in my life that I don’t even know if I’ve told her I was like, one day I would like to hire her full time in my business. Because she manages me and she’s constantly telling me no like can’t do things. Or when I say I’m gonna do this, she gets my mom like, yeah, no. And then she’s like, let’s look at the calendar.

Ashley Cox 30:08
Maurice, Maurice, famous line is how does that align with our priorities this quarter? And I’m like, yes.

Amber Hawley 30:16
Oh my gosh, that’s exactly it. But that’s the thing where like, I think when you look at it that way, and when you build a team, and now granted, I can get overly attached to people, because there are people who are like, I just want to be around you more and have you because they feel safe and supportive and wonderful. But they don’t necessarily fit the skill set of what I’m looking for. Right. And so like, I always keep they’re on the periphery, like they might be, you know, one day, right. But maybe, but it’s that idea of, like, I think you said that it’s finding that that, that intersection of this, what you’re needing in your business and finding those right people to help it grow. And then it just feels great. And it makes it it’s more fun. I mean, having Melissa I’m using her as my example. Because I have a few people that you know, support me on my team, but having her like, I sometimes jokingly say I’m just this is going to be a therapy session, like you’re doing my therapy because I’m venting about all the shit all the people who have missed me off or things that went wrong. Yeah, yeah. And then she makes it all right. And then she keeps me back on track, right. Yeah. And so, but like having those people it is really fun, and it makes it more enjoyable. And so hiring can be wonderful. But it is, like you said scary overwhelming.

Ashley Cox 31:30
to terrify terrifying things. Yeah. And I think too, you know, because most business owners haven’t been involved in the strategy side of hiring, it can come off very willy nilly, it can come off very, you know, on the cuff or on the fly, or, you know, whatever your analogy is for, for no plan. And that’s where I see a lot of things kind of go off the rails. Because when we don’t have a good strategy, when we don’t align our, our people plan with our business plan, we end up hiring the wrong people. And I, you know, I’ve worked with clients before, who are like, Oh, my God, I have built a patient team. Like, I don’t even know what I was doing. And now I have like, 10 people, and I just want to fire everybody and start over. Can I do that? And I’m like, wow, I mean, what let’s look at this, you know, like, let’s look at who you have and what you need. And let’s see who can fit in these roles. And then yeah, we might have to make some really hard decisions. And I don’t want for anyone listening to this episode to have to make those kinds of hard decisions in the future. So get it right now. So that you don’t have to fire people later. You don’t have to burn into the ground and start.

Amber Hawley 32:38
Although there are times when there are always

Ashley Cox 32:40
times, I don’t think you’re an entrepreneur, if there haven’t been times where you felt like burning it all to the ground. Yeah,

Amber Hawley 32:47
I know I have I have I’ve talked about this on another episode with Jamie trawl where I said, I have my Armageddon plan. Because when I’m really stressed out or some big, crappy thing happened, and I’m like, How can I just Yeah, kind of burn it to the ground, but still stay in my life. Sometimes the fantasy is just enough to keep me going. Because you’re just needed momentarily. But exactly. I want to be thoughtful of our time together. Because I know both of us could probably not stay on track. But we’ll be getting messages from listen Mara soon. But what what would you say? So like, there’s the Preparing for hiring, I guess, coming back to this all stay because I was gonna go somewhere else. But I realized let’s answer this question. Okay. What do you feel like somebody needs to have to know like, yes, it’s time to hire. Like, if they’re asking themselves that what would be a good, I guess, like kind of process

Ashley Cox 33:44
in that? Yeah. So if you’re thinking about hiring, it’s probably already too late. And I’m not even joking.

Amber Hawley 33:53
No. Next question, but that

Ashley Cox 33:57
was that was easy. Amber, what else you got? But seriously, like, I even did this myself. So I am, I am not only preaching to the choir, I was in the choir singing the same songs, okay, because I was like, Oh, I can do it a little bit longer. Oh, it’s not that hard. Oh, I can, I can manage this a little bit more. And you know, what’s beautiful is that I have every Friday off now. And I was working like six days a week. And I have so much more freedom and flexibility in my life and my schedule. Mara has freedom and flexibility in her life and her schedule. So it’s that shared workload that really adds so much value to your life. And so if you’re thinking about hiring, it’s probably already past time, you need to go ahead and do the audit that we talked about earlier. Figure out what tasks you’re doing and what you need to get off your plate and start really thinking about what do you want your business your team to look like? Start thinking do you want a big team? Do you want a small team? There are no right answers. The answer is what do you want? And that’s the thing that I’m always really emphasising is that I have, I have people that we help who hire one person. And that’s all they hire. And they’ve got one employee. And that’s it. And they’re happy as a clam. And then I’ve got teams over here who are working on building $10 million businesses with teams of 20 and multiple locations. And but you know, I’ve worked with, you know, people who’ve hired across 35 states. So you know, your business is your business. And that’s the beauty of it. Don’t turn your business into something that somebody else has dreamed up, figure out what you want. And then let’s hire strategically for one or two roles, or 10 roles, or whatever it takes to bring that vision to life. So what’s your business plan? Get that straight? What’s your goal? How do you How big do you want your team? And now let’s think about what’s the first position that I can hire for, don’t be trying to hire 235 people at one time that never works out. So disaster, you don’t have any plans, you don’t have any structure, you don’t have any systems, it is going to be chaos, hire one person, learn all the mistakes, hire the next person better.

Amber Hawley 36:00
Yeah, totally. You made me think about something, something I’ve been hearing people talk about a lot, which I think there’s value in looking at this is because, you know, most people will go to I’m going to hire a VA, most people in that, you know, don’t have like a brick and mortar or, you know, maybe their service based business, they think I need to hire a VA or some type of assistance, you know, beyond like home help stuff. And I’ve been hearing people talk about lately is maybe actually you don’t need an assistant, maybe you need to hire a salesperson, right? So I don’t know, is that something that you see with people or

Ashley Cox 36:35
most of our people actually hire an operations person first. Okay. They they’re, they’re streamlining, they’re creating efficiencies, they’re, they’re becoming more effective. So they can scale and serve better. And so when we hire salespeople, but we haven’t done a great job at learning how to sell, that’s a problem. Because we have to, we have to understand what is it that we’re selling first before we can outsource that. But most people honestly are hiring operations people to just help them get in order, help them stay focused, help them, you know, like, we’ve got the project plan. Now let’s work the project plan. Because if you’re scattered or having a hard time staying focused, or you’ve got way too much stuff going on, I promise that an operations person is going to help you look at that, and pare it down to what’s most essential, here’s what we need to do in order to bring this vision that you have to life. And it’s just so powerful when you can have somebody right alongside you, who has, you know, an opposite complementary skill set who can help you take this, this vibrant, imaginative, visionary mind that you have, and turn it into something tangible that you can execute?

Amber Hawley 37:48
Yes, yes. Having that executor that I’m glad you said that, because it gets again, you have to look at your own business. But when I think about it, when I started my brick and mortar practice, like and then I started hiring therapists, then it was like clear, we need an intake person because they do the sales and the calls and all of that. And they also helped they also did administrative, like organizational support. Yeah, for sure. I’m actually weirdly organized, but constantly throwing more shit on the fire. So it’s like, I really try to make it hard to do that. So I do need somebody. But when, when I when I really got into this, my online business or my consulting, business consulting and coaching business, actually operations was the first hire it was Melissa. So she does operations. And we always say I don’t know what to call her because, like, sometimes she’s a project manager, she’s really operations. And I know that people will often hire like, an a VA or an OBM. Like theoretically and OBM. If they’re, if they have that skill set, they should be somebody who understands the strategy. And so they’re doing some implementation as well. But sometimes I think people are hiring different versions of an assistant, like various versions of a VA, and there’s lots of different names for them and lots of different things. But I agree with you like that was what was transformational once I had Melissa on board, having somebody who could keep me in the zone, keep me on task, and tell me no a lot. And then also helped me execute and she and manage people too, because that’s probably what her job is, is project as even as a project manager is managing contractors, right? Yeah, managing whether

Ashley Cox 39:29
you have employees or contractors. Yeah, 100%. You know, they’re, they’re assigning tasks, they’re following up, they’re making sure that things aren’t falling through the cracks. And that’s where a lot of the times the CEO because we’re often very much the visionary or the creative, we’re the person that’s, you know, kind of the face of the business and we’ve got the energy or you know, whatever that drive is that kind of creates the entrepreneur. Those things normally normally aren’t our zone of genius, right? It’s like oh, details what what’s the thought what’s happening here? Like, no, I’m on to the next great idea. And yeah, the operations person, I always, I always tell Maura, I’m like, I heard myself a boss, because like, Yes, I needed somebody. But even last year, you know, we faced a couple of really major losses in our family. And even through all of that, I was able to take more time off than ever, our business still grew, we still served our customers, because we had such clean, simple, efficient operations, because Mara knew exactly what it took to help to guide the ship when I was out of pocket. And I couldn’t. And so I think that sets up so incredibly valuable, like I can’t even put a price tag on that, right? Absolutely. And so having somebody in your business that you can really trust to help guide the ship when you’re either not able, or you’re just not interested. handling some of the minutia and the in the details, like Mara loves being able to show up and do work that she’s really good at, and that she’s passionate about, and that she adds value to the business. And she’s like, I don’t want to be the face. Like I don’t want to be doing any of the things you’re doing that all sounds terrifying. I’m like, great. I don’t want to do anything you’re doing because that sounds terrifying. I did it. I didn’t like it. So yeah, I think you know, like, again, really considering what is my business need? What is my personality need? Do not hire your clone. Okay, for do not, you do not need another you we have you? You’re special? You’re amazing. We need somebody who’s opposite for me. So maybe somebody who has different skill sets and has different qualities and can really just amplify what you’re already doing and make it that much more beautiful. But yeah, the preparation, the thoughtfulness, I think is a lot of what’s missing in hiring is just being really thoughtful about you know, what you need. And I know you have a great episode. I can’t remember who who the guests was, but you talk about vision and missions and values. And that’s so fundamental to hiring the right people for your team. Because you you need people who understand where are we going? And do I want to be a part of that?

Amber Hawley 42:08
Yes. And that was with Jana Lundqvist, who’s fantastic. And she helps people with that strategic planning. So it makes sense. Yeah. And sometimes that’s the thing that when we’re really overwhelmed, and we’re totally distracted, it’s very hard to be thoughtful, because we feel like we’re living under this avalanche about to like crush us. So, but remembering that even taking a small step back even just for a day or an hour, an hour, yeah. Or that’s why you talk to you like your biz bestie or a coach or somebody or your if you have somebody like operations, talking to them. That’s, I think, why it’s so valuable is each, they help you slow it down and take that step back, and then look at it, because it is about being more thoughtful, right. It’s about that thoughtfulness. And when you’re doing something while you’re doing it kind of assessing and then do it go ahead, but just be a little more thoughtful about it. And yeah, I definitely think that’s what operations does, for sure.

Ashley Cox 43:05
For sure. I have a client, we just had a conversation last week about how if she takes two hours, on one day, this month, it’s going to save her 186 hours, like we did the math. I was like if you take two hours now it’s gonna save you 186 hours every single year, forever. Yes, that’s infinite.

Amber Hawley 43:26
But we don’t take the time. It’s hard to without somebody who understands it. It’s hard to quantify it always. But that’s where like, again, we get lost in the minutia. And we whittled away, you know, and like I said, just before this call when I was talking to, to one of the people in the membership and saying like, you know, I thought about, oh, I could outsource like onboarding podcast guests. And at first I was like, Well, if I if I do them every other week, because I still resist solo episodes. And then it’s 26 hours, and then I’ve streamlined most of it through Calendly. And all the stuff is taken care of and does it and then, you know, like I kind of short it up and I thought well, then I don’t really need to and then I realized like, Okay, but what if this saves me 20 hours a year? Like what if that’s all it saved me was 20 hours a year? That’s still worth? Yeah, handing that off to somebody? Because at that ad that had that?

Ashley Cox 44:24
Yeah, even if you use those hours to rest, that’s still valuable use of 20 hours a year.

Amber Hawley 44:30
That’s probably what I’ll use them for. In all honesty, Lord,

Ashley Cox 44:34
I’ve got one client love her heart. She’s working 14 days a week right now. And and now she’s not but she was when she started working with us. And I was like, you gotta stop working 14 days a week and she goes, Oh my God, that’s exactly what it feels like. Yeah, stop. You don’t have to. There is a pathway.

Amber Hawley 44:49
And that’s one thing. I’m about sustainability. It’s got to be sustainable because and fun. Like Scott stainable

Ashley Cox 44:56
profitable and fun. Like that’s the trifecta. aim for that. That’s your new land.

Amber Hawley 45:04
Well, I feel like I had like 14 more questions. And I could keep talking to you. Because there’s, I mean, again, this is like the number one pain point. And I just found it really, you know, fortuitous that today. People were talking about it again, because it’s something we’re always talking about, right? It’s always going to come up and like, and I think it’s helpful for people to hear to like, maybe it is somebody in operations, who helps you streamline all of that stuff and help you figure that stuff out. And yeah, and oh, I know when you said don’t hire yourself. I was like, yes, they’re your biz besties when you have a clone become friends with them to not hire them. All right, gonna let it Yeah. Well, I want to be thoughtful of time even though I want to keep talking to you. So maybe we’ll, we’ll eventually have to probably have you back. But

Ashley Cox 45:52
we’ll just we’ll just have like a whole little mini series. So yeah, Amber and Ashley’s free, like our hours. Come and learn some stuff and be entertained.

Amber Hawley 46:04
I feel like adventure has to be in there. Since we have all the A’s kind of adventure hiring adventures? Yes. People want to find out more from you. Because obviously they will plus they want to get a glimpse of Maura in action.

Ashley Cox 46:17
I mean, she’s the best, and you can’t have her. Sorry, but yeah, you can find us online on our website at Sprouthr.co. And you can find us on Instagram at Sprout hr.co I always like to say, the easiest way to remember it is we’re sprout hr.co anywhere you go. But we

Amber Hawley 46:40
make them into a jingle

Ashley Cox 46:42
for right. It’ll be a jingle, it’ll be j and we’ve got tons of great resources. We talk a lot about planning. I think it’s probably the most important part of hiring that is so often overlooked, not talked about. And we’ve got blog posts and quizzes and all sorts of fun resources and things because obviously fun is important. And they’re helpful. And I think that if you take a look, and you really just pause and you plan that time to sit down and just be super thoughtful. You are going to find so much untapped potential and value in that process.

Amber Hawley 47:16
I love it. I love it. Well, we’re gonna leave it there. Thank you. Thank you again for coming on.

Ashley Cox 47:21
Thank you so much for having me over. This has been so much fun. Yes.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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