The Membership Guys

Hiring Your First Employees for your Membership Business

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Are you ready to hire your first employees for your membership business?

You may have already dipped your toe in the water by working with freelancers or contractors…

People who essentially work for themselves or third party companies and handle one-off tasks or work for you as and when needed…

But now you're at a point in your business when you need more…

There are tasks that need to be completed on a regular basis…

And you don't have the time or the bandwidth to do it…

So you're now ready to hire your first employee…

And that's a whole different ball game…

So where should you start?

Having completed our own recruitment drive here at The Membership Guys, we have some experience in this area…

And of course, as always we want to share our knowledge with you…

So here are our thoughts on how to go about hiring your first employees for your membership business…

When’s the right time to hire?

Often, this all comes down to budget…

The first piece of advice I'd give is that you should easily be able to afford to hire someone to come into the business…

Whether it's for a full-time or part-time role…

You should make enough in profit so that after paying your expenses and yourself that there’s still more than enough to pay a salary

Especially when it comes to your first hire as there can be some hidden costs outside of just paying their salary!

You’ve got taxes to think about things like pensions, expenses, equipment, increased software costs, accounting legal and HR as well as payroll costs…

If you take the expected salary for your employee and times it by 1.5…

That's probably around how much it will cost you to hire your member of staff over the year…

And that might actually be low balling it! 

Beware of some hidden costs of hiring your first employee

So if you don't have this disposable income readily available to invest in recruitment, then I'd recommend holding off until you do…

Instead, you should consider tasks to outsource to make your membership more manageable.

What type of roles should you hire for?

You'll know this better than me…

It's your membership after all… 

And it all depends on what your business needs right now…

Sometimes you need someone to do the same things you do…

Other times, you’ll want to hire for other roles just to free up your time.

One of the most popular roles to hire for a membership business is content management…

If you’re producing a lot of content – which is something us membership owners tend to do – this can take up a lot of your time throughout the week.

So having someone manage that for you could be a huge time saver. 

Another role is community management…

Or someone to handle the website and tech side of things.

If you use a lot of visual material, you might want a full-time designer or video producer/editor.

Whatever the role is, it should be something you need consistently enough to justify hiring a permanent employee over a freelancer.

Don’t forget the logistics

Location is a big factor here…

It's likely you'll be hiring someone in your own country…

Because it’s very complicated to hire a permanent employee internationally…

Tax, legal, all sorts of stuff… it can get messy!

One thing to consider here is whether you want them to be office-based or remote…

Generally you need to go all in on one or the other because when you think about it…

Having part of your team working remotely, then you and employees in an office local to you can have an impact on your team dynamic. 

If you go for office-based employees, this limits your pool of potential hires to those in the local area…

That means you’ll need to think about local transport and amenities, as that’s what potential applicants will be weighing up.

Hiring remotely gives you a bit more flexibility.

Writing  job descriptions

Next, it’s time to start thinking about job descriptions…

About the duties of the role and the qualities you’re looking for…

What personality traits and skills do you need?

Think about any tools or pieces of software you want them to have experience with…

Also put yourself in their shoes…

How will this person spend an average day?

What challenges will they need to handle?

Try not to fall into the trap of looking for the perfect, unicorn-like employee…

A master of all trades…

A razor-sharp marketer who can build amazing websites, edit podcasts, write converting sales pages, design logos, and graphics…

AND manage your community and admin on top of that…

That's a lot of different professions and skills for a single role…

Good luck finding someone who can (and wants to) do all that.

When writing your job descriptions, be wary of listing the qualities of five different professions in one role.

It’s hard to find someone who has absolutely everything, but you do need someone who is open to learning.

Contract terms

Getting into the nitty-gritty here, you need to think about salary, contract terms, working hours, and so on…

Generally, if you want great people, you need to pay for them, which comes at a higher cost…

By being generous with the salary, you also get better applicants, and you also get your pick of the best.

After pay, think about hours…

Typical full-time roles are between 30 to 40 hours per week.

Part-time is closer to 10 to 25 hours.

Do you need a full-time employee or just a part-time one?

Another thing to decide on is flexible hours…

Will you offer flexible working hours?

I’d recommend not being one of those bosses who need every single second of every day accounted for…

The kind that installs face-tracking software…

Focus on output, not input.

Advertising the role

Where should you advertise this role?

The simple answer is that it depends on the role.

If you’re looking for a community manager, you might want to turn your attention to your existing network or even email list…

If they’re already following you, that experience could come in handy.

Asking around your network for recommendations is a great start…

Who knows, you could find the perfect employee and not have to advertise at all!

But if you do decide to advertise, look at specialist job boards for your industry to start with…

That way, you’ll only really get people in that industry applying…

You might even want to work with a recruitment agency to get a little help.

But this can be costly, so I’d go with checking out your network first, then advertising, and then going to a recruiter if you can’t find someone.

How will applicants apply?

A simple way to do it is to have an application form on your website.

If you’re running a WordPress website, there are loads of plugins to help you build one.

How you phrase your questions will make a big difference.

Try to stick to open questions like:

  • What attracts you to this role?
  • Why do you want to work with us?
  • Describe why you are perfect for this role

These types of questions will elicit more open responses and get the applicant to really think.

You also get a sense of their writing and communication style which tells you a bit about the person…

After a few questions…

And include an upload function for CVs or resumes and a cover letter if you want.

This saves you from having to make the application form overly long.

Other things you might want to ask for could be an introduction video if you’re hiring someone who needs to be on camera, or a portfolio if they’re a designer.

The interviewing stage

Once you’ve gathered all your applications, split them into three sections:

  • The definite no – Those without the experience you need, who aren’t a good fit
  • The maybes – Ones you’re not totally sold on but might be worth interviewing
  • Definite yes – The ones you definitely want to interview

The interview isn’t to find out new information necessarily…

But rather to get to know them, how they communicate, and to clarify any information in their application.

You may even want to ask applicants to complete a small sample project…

For example, when we recruited a graphic designer, we asked three applicants to design a basic concept for social media…

And we paid them to do it so the candidates who we didn't hire didn't feel like we were wasting their time.

Sort out the boring stuff

Hiring an employee, interviewing candidates, and making a job offer are just part of the journey…

After that, you need to take care of the admin…

That means speaking to an accountant, especially if this is your first employee…

The boring but super important stuff that comes with running a membership website…

You may need to rethink your business structure, your tax processes, and your payroll system.

You will also need to think about insurance, which includes employer’s insurance and public liability if they’re going to be office-based.

For some extra help, you could get a HR professional to draw up contracts and advise on things like health and safety, contracts, paid leave, sick days, and so on.

Try to get this all out of the way before you make your formal job offer…

That way, you have the contract ready to go and can get everything signed and finalized…

And once the contract is signed, it's to prepare for the employee joining the business…

Set up your onboarding process

Think about what systems you will need to give them access to….

Maybe you’ll need to set up a new user on Slack or WordPress

Perhaps you’ll need to enroll them in training or make them an admin on the company Facebook page.

If you’re hiring someone who isn’t familiar with online memberships, give them some resources to help them become accustomed to it…

Maybe even a certain Behind the Membership book by yours truly…

Don’t just think about the first day either…

Try to map out the first few weeks or months to get an idea of where you want them to be by month one and so on…

Communication throughout this process is key.

Try to schedule weekly catch-up calls to check how they’re getting on and if they need any help….

And then you can take things from there.

This is just what's worked for us…

All of the points I've made are based on our experience of expanding our team…

I'm by no means a recruitment expert! 

But I do hope that reading this post has helped you figure out a clear path to take…

And given you some clarity on how to bring in the right people to help you take your business to the next level.

The critical thing to remember is to plan and prepare…

So you’re covering all your legal responsibilities and hiring someone who’s a great fit.

It can be a bit daunting hiring your first employee, but with proper planning and help from an accountant, HR, or payroll professional…

Hopefully the process will go smoothly for you.

Good luck! 

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