Building an Ecommerce Business, Part 6: Hiring Workers

Employees are a company’s biggest advantage. Without the appropriate people, a new ecommerce company would most likely fail. Refining the hiring process can help find the ideal candidate and decrease the amount of time wasted for all parties.

This is the sixth installment in my series of conversations about building an ecommerce business. The preceding installments are:

With this interview, I talked with Ayman Al-Abdullah, president of AppSumo, a daily bargains site for electronic goods. We discussed AppSumo’s hiring process, and how it has evolved.

What follows is my complete audio conversation with Al-Abdullah along with a transcript, edited for clarity and length.

Eric Bandholz: Tell about yourself and your business.

Ayman Al-Abdullah: I am the CEO of AppSumo. We’re an ecommerce website for entrepreneurs to help grow and enhance their business. We sell life deals on electronic products that help freelancers and solo entrepreneurs scale their businesses well beyond seven, seven, and eight figures. Before that, I started and sold a few businesses. I was once a product marketing manager at Microsoft.

Bandholz: You have taken this business from 1 person up to a group of 14.

Al-Abdullah: To give you a quick background, the company was founded by Noah Kagan. About four or five years to the company, they began to construct their own internal software tools to cultivate their email list, that’s the bread and butter of just about any ecommerce business. They were like,”we would like to double down on this chance. We are in need of someone to run the core business of AppSumo to keep the lights running while we concentrate on growing Sumo.”

So that is where I came in. They hired me in ancient 2015, saying, more or less,”Hey, just come in and make sure that the lights stay on while the entire company transitions to Sumo.” So I have been doing this since 2015.

Bandholz: Tell us about your hiring errors.

Al-Abdullah: Some of the greatest mistakes I made were not with AppSumo. They were in my previous businesses. I did what nearly every solo entrepreneur does: hire a virtual assistant. It felt as though I was spending more time teaching the VA the best way to do the simple stuff. It saved no time for me.

As soon as I stepped into AppSumo, I realized I must spend my time helping to grow the company — closing more deals. I ended up hiring a local intern, which I recommend to some solo entrepreneur. It is a paid intern. We made a project description; we moved to the University of Texas in Austin because we are based in Austin.

We advised the intern, to paraphrase,”We know you are a student. We’re prepared to be flexible around your schedule. Meet with us for 10 hours each week, for 150 bucks. We are going to meet in a coffee shop.”

Bandholz: how can you find a motivated intern?

Al-Abdullah: It always begins with the job description. The best copy you can write is the job descriptions since the people who step into your business are those that will grow the business. Even now that we have got 14 full-time workers, every job description goes via an in-depth vetting procedure. We discuss the things that smart individuals like, such as freedom, the ability to work on interesting and special challenges, the ability to have a seat at the table when it comes to strategy, and the capacity for your thoughts to be heard.

If you’re able to convey that in your job description, then you are likely to wind up getting sharp candidates. Number two, you must go out and origin. A whole lot of times people think that they’re going to post a project description and the top candidates are only going to fall in their lap. You need to be certain that you’re knocking down the doors and locating those candidates. You’re selling your organization over others because it is a difficult hiring environment.

Bandholz: Do you have concerns that your employees would leave, say, in 3 months to take that high paying job out of Facebook?

Al-Abdullah: Cash is obviously important. An entrepreneur has to work out how to take money off the table. There’s an unbelievable nonmonetary value from all of the intangibles which you can receive from a business like ours.

Bandholz: how can you handle growing pains while also attempting to hire someone?

Al-Abdullah: The biggest mistake is hurrying the hiring process. When you are a small group, culture fit is so crucial because one individual can influence half of the staff and skew culture in the incorrect direction. It takes three months in a minimum to discover a fantastic excellent hire and six months if this hire has multiple abilities that you’re searching for.

Bandholz: What happens after you have decided on a excellent job description?

Al-Abdullah: We’ve got a well-thought-out procedure. Number 1, sync with the hiring supervisor to recognize the need; identify what’s going to determine success for this candidate. It should be a really clear metric. The next step is creating a job description which would find that perfect candidate excited.

The next step is exactly what many firms skip out on: Do not just post on job boards, but you should be proactive. The best candidates are already happy at work. They have probably already received three or four promotions. The last thing they are doing is searching for a job. So we need the hiring manager to supply 100 candidates, usually on LinkedIn. By way of instance, search on LinkedIn for”PPC experience” Then, we will filter to Austin since we employ locally. Then we will add first and second-degree connections. All of a sudden we have got 300 potential candidates.

Bandholz: Walk us through that first telephone call with a candidate.

Al-Abdullah: For us, to save everybody’s time, the very first phone screen is through video. It normally lasts 10 minutes. This has drastically reduced the amount of false positives that we have had in our hiring process.

One of the things we look for is if we were to employ this individual, would she raise the average of the provider? Otherwise, we typically say .

Our technology services : Magento posshopify posbigcommerce poswoocommerce pos

Bandholz: What happens after the screening telephone?

Al-Abdullah: We will typically meet for coffee — the candidate, the hiring manager, and me. Right then, we can ascertain if the man is a solid alternative. In that case, we want the whole staff to meet her. The last issue is that the candidate must complete a take-home challenge, based on the role.

Bandholz: How can you set reimbursement?

Al-Abdullah: We cover based on the market. We try to prevent the entire compensation conversation. It is like,”Look, this is exactly what you would be making.” We need money to be off the table. We need it to be where you would be making roughly the same overall, if not more, than anyplace else.

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