Curious about what it takes to build and manage a remote team? My guest in this episode, Kevin Urrutia who is the CEO of Voy Media, a digital marketing agency based in New York City, shares with us his experience in building and growing an agency with a team of currently 25 remote workers.
What was really fascinating about this conversation to me was that Kevin comes from a gamer/coder background and, while an entrepreneur at heart, had every intention of staying in Silicon Valley where he worked for start ups as a coder. While on paper, it looked like a dream job, he knew it wasn’t right for him so he turned to starting his own agency and eventually multiple businesses.
You’ll hear all about that and how he manages a remote team effectively in this episode and it just goes to show you, anyone, no matter your background or previous experience, can translate to leadership and building a team.
In this episode:
04:25 – Kevin’s Introduction
05:31 – A little history
10:08 – Building experience
17:47 – Going to California
22:09 – Implementing experience
26:50 – Starting to grow a team
29:30 – Having other businesses
32:43 – Creating a hiring process
35:01 – Project management
41:32 – Giving feedback
45:07 – Negativity is infectious
49:22 – Keeping team engaged
52:17 – The Founder Boost
54:08 – Relationship and positivity
1:00:08 – “Cracks” from growth
1:04:24 – Small tips to sales
1:08:47 – Final thoughts
You can also view the full transcription of this episode below.
Connect with Kevin:
Episode presented by:
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What’s up, everybody? Welcome into Episode 81. In this one, you’re going to hear about what it takes to manage a remote team. And what’s interesting about this episode is our guests today Kevin Urrutia is an agency owner, a project manager, a team leader of a couple dozen people in his current web design agency. But Kevin is a definitely an entrepreneur at heart. You’ll hear in this episode a little bit of his journey, before we get into talking about managing a team and what that takes, particularly remotely, which is super important right now and more crucial and timely than ever. But you’ll hear from him on how he went from being essentially a gamer and a coder and a coder in Silicon Valley for a little while. And how he kind of used his entrepreneurial spirit to be able to go through that time in his life, and then transition to building multiple businesses. And now running this team. I think this is super interesting. And it’s going to be really valuable for you to hear. Because sometimes what it takes to manage people and what it takes to run a team successfully, is often dependent on what you’ve been through as an entrepreneur, your life experience, the things that you’ve gone through really will kind of build the muscle for you, as a team leader and as a leader. And I think it’s really valuable to hear from somebody who probably didn’t envision himself as leader of people, because Kevin is, he’s a gamer coder at heart, but he is an entrepreneur at heart as well. And I think for those of you who are really interested in code really interesting, or interested in the gamer side of things when it comes to web design, this will really kind of ring true for you. But those of you who are interested in running a team successfully, you’ll hear some really practical things that we get into here. And it was a great interview, I really enjoyed talking with Kevin, Kevin is not like me. He is a true New Yorker. He’s from Brooklyn, so you’re gonna hear that he’s a fast talker. He’s a fast thinker, a little bit different pace than I am. But but that’s cool. Sometimes it’s cool to talk with people who are you know, vastly different, and hey, I have family in New Jersey. So I know what it’s like to show up to a family event where people are talking fast and loud and who little overwhelming sometimes, but it’s all good. So really excited for you to hear from Kevin here.
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Kevin, welcome to the podcast, man. Great to have you on.
Thanks for having me, Josh. Excited to be here.
So I always like to start out with letting my audience know where you are and what you do. Exactly. And I’m really curious and excited to hear about your agency because you have some really cool stuff going on. But yeah, before we get into it, can you just let everybody know where you’re based out of and what you do exactly.
Yes. So I’m based out of New York City and I live in Brooklyn right now, I actually just moved there about four or five months ago, I was living in Queens for about a year and a half. And then I just tell people all the time, like I just didn’t like it. I needed to get out. Like I just did not like it. It’s gonna like anything. It’s like, I was like, in that apartment. It’s like and this kind of sucks. I just feel depressed. I was like, I need to go somewhere lively. And then now here I’m like, so much better now. So that so basically what I do now is I run Voy Media, which is a digital marketing company. So that’s what I do now, but I guess we can backtrack if you want sort of like my history there.
Yeah, I would love to hear kind of how you got to this point because where it is so Voy Media, where are you guys at right now with how big your team is.
So Voy Media right now we’re 25 people. And that includes obviously media buyers. So media buyers. It’s like a term that we use, but it’s like Facebook ad buyers, Instagram ad buyers and Google Ad buyers. We just call it media buyers and internally. And then of course, you have designers and creatives and copywriters.
Now do you guys do any sort of web design as well? Or do you focus specifically on social media, digital advertising and marketing?
So this is interesting. So we do like landing pages for brands we work with, because we know that helps with like conversions. That’s and so we designed the landing pages, but we don’t do it in like traditional people do like HTML, CSS, we use like landing page builders, whatever the new thing now is like no code, but like Unbounce, and Lead Pages, stuff like that. So we do do that. And then clients do ask us like, oh, like, this is a great landing page. Can you design my whole website, we’re like, we’re not really a web design agency. But we can make these sort of like silo pages just for conversion.
Well, your type of agency is great for my audience, because it’s amazing referral partner. Because Same here, like I ran an agency for almost a decade, and I never did social media, or advertising or any sort of marketing, I always just focused on web design. So I had a lot of great partners like yourself, because it’s a really a great mix. It’s a great combo for somebody to handle because they really are different worlds, aren’t they like…
There’s so it’s so different. And clients are like, but you’re doing this landing page for some like, yeah, that’s one page you want like a whole like branding website, that’s a very different thing.
It is funny the client mind because I remember when I got started in web design, I got really good at WordPress. And I use Divi, by Elegant Themes as far as the main theme that we use, and I got really good at that. And then inevitably, clients would be like, hey, I’d love you to run our social media and do some Google ads. And I’m like, I don’t do any of that. So in the clients mind, it is kind of it’s all one thing, but it really is separate. So it’s great to have, you know, referral partners. Now, I’d love to hear kind of how you got into this, because we’re going to talk about how you’ve managed to build and scale your business, and really manage a remote team, which I think is really crucial right now, in the day and age we’re living in because more and more agencies are going remote with the COVID stuff going on. So I can’t wait to dive into that. But yeah, I think a great foundation piece to this would be to hear just a little bit about your background, like how did you get into Voy Media? And how did you you know, in the early days, what did that look like?
Oh, it sounds awful. Like, it just gives me nightmares thinking about what you had to go through.
And so that’s when I realized, like in computer science, we’re learning about algorithms, data structures, right? stuff that’s like important. But for me, I’ve always wanted to be like, like, not the back end kind of person. I want to be like, the person in front end. Yeah, visual stuff got me excited. Because like, I want for me, I was like, I want people to know what I make. Not be like, people don’t care about the algorithms. It’s like, okay, it just works, right. But for me, I’ve always had that, like, I need to know, I need to show people, this is what I did. And you can actually play with it and touch it. And that’s where I got into, like web design and programming. And that’s when I started learning like PHP, because I was like, okay, like how to make a website? pilots are like, yes, obviously, like, with dynamic websites, let’s databases, MySQL, right, all that stuff back then. So then I started learning a lot of that building all these web stuff. And that then I picked up Ruby on Rails. So David had him on hanser, just came out with Ruby on Rails. And when Ruby on Rails came out, I was like, Whoa, like, this is so crazy. You can make websites and web apps in like five to 10 minutes. And that’s like, the USP, of Rails back in the day, it’s like, hey, make a weblog in 10 minutes. And like it
Just for for people’s reference, you might not know that’s the co founder of Basecamp. For anyone who’s curious, because I kind of forgot that he had a hand in that. And then because that was before Basecamp. Right? Before
It was like, it’s like writing that same like kind of period or they’re developing Basecamp plus, like this framework to build it.
So I was like, I that’s how like, old I am, like people. Like I was like writing that like, era. Oh, yeah. What year I was curious. What year was that? Like? What years? Were you getting into all that? This was like, maybe so I’m 31 right now. So I was probably about 19 ish at the time. Okay. Yeah. Okay, so, so probably like early 1000s. Yeah. Right. Really, really early on. And when I first came, when I first saw Ruby on Rails, I was like, well, like, this is like, what I want to learn. And at the same time, I was also learning. I’m not sure if people know like jQuery. jQuery was like, the biggest thing back then like, before, it’s the crazy, it’s like, it’s like the
Powerful now, designers that do it. Yeah.
Yeah, like John resig. He’s like the founder of jQuery. When I first found out about jQuery, it was like another one of those like, Whoa, moments, like a library that allows you to do animate to do text animations to delete to like, it sounds so obvious now. But back then it was just like, well, like, you have to do so many hacks, and then you install jQuery. And it’s like, dollar sign dot element, and then animate and like, okay, it’s like, Whoa, looks like magic. And yeah, it’s like, now it’s obvious, but it was so crazy back then. So that’s he. So when this sort of at the same time, this sort of fueled my curiosity, because I was like, wow, like, what I want to do, and there’s also other people like this in the space are also pushing this forward. And I think that sort of helps you get excited even more, because like, you probably know, like, back in the day, like, when you need to program a website, or do HTML was like, Okay, I gotta check. I gotta check IE seven. Okay, I do this racks here, all this crazy stuff that like was so annoying.
Well, the the for the people who are listening to this, and they’re, like, terrified, getting further into web design. The good news is you don’t have to know most any of those languages. Now all I know, a little bit of HTML, and I love CSS. But that’s it. Like I barely I can barely do any PHP. I don’t do jQuery, even though I’ve I can tweak it a little bit. That’s it. So that’s the beauty about WordPress, and a lot of the builders nowadays is you don’t have to go that route. But you can. But it’s interesting to hear that you started there. And then like, did you do freelance web design before getting into the marketing aspect? Is that kind of how you pivoted there?
So basically, so in college, I was still like, maybe a junior in college, and I started doing like iOS development. And then that’s when I created my web domain agency called One Tiny Bit. And there we specialize in Ruby on Rails and iOS development.
I love that name, by the way, one tiny bit.
Like, oh, cuz I started the Wilson. And he’s, he’s actually rather interesting right now. So he’s the EDA designer. So I was a programmer, and he was the designer. So we’re like, oh, like, we both love doing this thing. Let’s make an agency. And that’s how we started one tiny bit. And in college, we created like a bunch of iPhone apps, but at the same time, for jobs. We’re just going to craig We’re just going to Craigslist and going to like the local Craigslist, and like emailing people saying, Hey, are you looking for web development? Hey, we’re this college students. We have an agency would love to chat with you. And we just got some jobs and like people were paying us and like any Freelancer at the time, like remote work, that was like, the thing that we did. It’s like, it’s like, for me, it was like, kind of like, funny. It’s funny now he was like, oh, how’s remote work? I’m like, I was used to it like in college because like, that’s what I did. It’s like, yeah, that’s how I worked. I was still in college and people were stopped not in college with me. Yeah.
Yeah, I think that the the pandemic in 2020 here, I think it’s really for web designers. It’s been interesting because our lives really don’t look that much different.
Like when everybody went remote and got used to doing zoom meetings and then just started working from home. It was like culture shock for so many people. But for web designers were like, Well, welcome to the club. We’ve been doing this for years.
That’s that’s the funny part too. Because, like, I was like, got, I kind of got out of that sort of face. Because once I started working, but like in college, and throughout life, before college before my full time job, I was like programming at night and weekends, just at home. And that’s like life. There was. But anyways, that’s how I did it for one tiny bit. And then we’re doing that for about a year and a half. And like anything like it was fine. We got some clients, we were going to Craigslist, we’re going to Redit to sort of like the for hiring section and posted like, Hey, where are these college students hire us and we got some jobs. Yeah, I learned a lot like how to price things, how to estimate like all this stuff that like you like, you’re so aggressive with your estimates. In the beginning, you’re like, yeah, it’s gonna take me like a month. It’s like, no settlement. It’s like, two months, and then you’re like, Oh, crap, I charge way too little for this. And like,
Oh, yeah. So yeah, it’s the it’s the common. Everyone always under bids. And under estimates how long it’s gonna take. Yeah, so for anyone just starting out, you’re not alone. Don’t feel bad. those first couple of projects go three times longer than you think. Or 10 times longer in some cases.
And then you realize, like, and then it’s so funny, because like, you’ll see like, a client will be like, hey, look, another Freelancer is charging me like whatever. 10 K, you’re charging me two K, you’re like, yeah, like, I can’t believe they’re charging you that much. And then you’re like, Okay, I can see why they have experienced that like,
Yeah, it’s so funny. You mentioned that, Kevin, because when I first got into the web design game, I remember I was charging like a grand or 1500 for sites. And I had a mentor I talked with who had a local agency, who he was like, on a different level, he was doing very high end projects, but even some basic portfolio projects, I would ask him, what would you charge for this? And he was like, we’d probably charge about 10,000. And my jaw dropped to the floor. I was like, 10,000 for this. I was like, that just doesn’t like why I didn’t understand. And then a few years in, I started to realize, Oh, that makes perfect sense. I actually want to keep money in the business and not go broke, then yeah, you actually need to charge more. It just goes back to sharing the value and making sure the client understands. But But yeah, that is interesting to hear, because I’m listening to you. And I’m seeing kind of a progression, going from a problem solver, a dabbler designer/dev too, it sounds like you’re entering the world of being an entrepreneur and a business owner. Is that kind of what segwayed into starting boy media.
So pretty much yeah. So basically, after I did this, I want to go to California, because that’s like the tech Mecca. I was like, oh, like I was falling like TechCrunch tech meme, all the tech blogs like Twitter was coming up. And I was like, everything, you got to go to San Francisco, you got to go Silicon Valley. And after college got a job at mint.com sounds like okay, let me just go there. And I literally have never been to California. Besides when I first moved there for my job, who like, were you scared? It’s like, Yeah, I was scared. But like, this is like what I wanted, like, this is the dream. I was like, I want to have a chance to go here. I’m gonna go do it. And so I went there, I went to mint. And I tell people all the time, like, mit is great company. It’s like a great known brand. But within like the first like, six, seven months, I knew I didn’t like it. And, and obviously, you probably know people like, Oh, just like you’re right out of college. You could stay there for two years. I was like, What? Stay here for two years. I was like, no way. I was like, I’m not like I just know already. And then I left. And I went to work for another startup called zaarly. And there was there for like about two and a half years. And but during this time, when I was working at zaarly, I was still doing like web projects in the weekends. I’m not sure people still do this now. But we do a lot of hackathons on the weekends. And like startup weekends, which is like 48 hours of coding, just like staying up all night making projects. That was so fun. We were there was one called solo mo social, local mobile. This is like when social lokomo was first coming out. And we made like kind of like a Foursquare competitor, which is like kind of like local places around your area with reviews. And we actually won and that was so crazy. Because I’m like, I’ve been to like so many of these and I finally won and and then we got a free trip to San Diego and we actually pitch to Qualcomm ventures. And that was like a great experience of like, Oh, well, like everything I’ve been working for kind of worked as like, this is kind of exciting. So I still was building stuff and on there. But then like I was building like random websites. But anyways, after I was at a California for about four years, I was like, Oh, I want to go back home. So that’s when I moved back to New York City. And then that’s when I started my first company, which was actually not Voy Media but actually a made company is called made sailor’s and we still running right now. We’re in like New York City, Boston, Chicago, New Jersey, and Brooklyn obviously with 150 to 200 made right now it’s still running right now but that’s sort of like for me and to like how I got into like more of a marketing because I was like I can build all this great products. I can build all this stuff that’s like gets get looks kind of good. What How come nobody’s using it? And that was like the question that like was like always like tricky for me. Right?
So it’s it’s interesting to hear you talk about your experience in Silicon Valley and that and that just arena because I interviewed Kenny Singh who’s one of the creators of Devi. And he had a very similar story. He worked for Google, I think it was Episode 44. I had him on. And he told me the story about how he did the same thing. He went to Google, he had actually worked for Elegant Themes prior to that, and helped create Divi and then took a job with Google. And while he was at Google, he felt that same type of experience, he just didn’t, he didn’t feel like the work was that impactful. And it wasn’t making that big of an impact. And one of his managers at Google was like, we should do something like this theme I just found and it was Divi. It was like, the work that he did before. You know, he would think like, if you tell your family members, I’m working for Google the pry, like, wow, he’s working for Google, whereas they don’t know what the heck Elegant Themes is. But he got so much more impact and so much more. Just fulfilment from working with Elegant Themes. I went back there, and then it’s you know, that’s where he’s been happy ever since. So that’s a good lesson. Just sometimes the grass looks greener and things on paper sound awesome. But you get there. And sometimes you just, you know, you don’t have to follow that path that maybe looks cool or sounds cool to the world. But yeah, it sounds like you’ve made the right decision with sticking with your gut with Yeah,
I think I think Exactly. And people always ask me, like, like, even even now tell me like, Oh, I work that man. It’s like, whoa, I’m like, yeah, it’s like, they you still get that thing, but I’m just like, I tell people, like, within a month, I knew like when you know, you know, like, it’s like, I was like, Whoa, like, this is not what I want. And I always tell people just go with your gut. And it’s one of those things where like, like anything in life, it’s like your friends, your family, they’ll always kind of want what they would want. But it’s not what you want. You have to just make sure you’re the one living your own life. Like it’s like, they’re not living it for you. And sometimes it’s like, you got to please both. But in the day, you got to please yourself. That’s right. At least for me. It’s like I always want
Well said, yeah. And that’s it’s your story. Yeah, that’s huge. Yeah. I’m curious because I’d love to talk about the the building your team and what you’ve done with this agency. But I’m really just one last question on this. Do you feel like all of your experience has helped you just appreciate what you’re doing now? More?
Oh, yeah, for sure. I always tell people like, it’s like a stair step approach. Like you, you the first company, you build the second one you build, like you just get better. And when I say better to me, it’s like you just learn from the mistakes like, okay, like, this is how you do an LLC, this is how you do website like, for me in the beginning, like I was building my own websites to code because I was like, I’m a programmer, I’m gonna make it myself. Now. I’m like, No, I’m gonna use WordPress, because it’s gonna be so much easier. And I don’t have to do anything. It’s like, let me get a nice theme and then go from there. Because I want to make the business not like the website spending, like two months building it. So yeah,
Yeah, no, it’s true. You do you learn from every experience, and it translates. So that’s one reason I love web design. So many different industries, translate it even. I know what from my experience in running and scaling my own web design agency, when I started this personal brand, and doing courses and teaching other web designers. I took this to six figures in the year one, and a lot of people are like, how did you do that? And I’m like, I literally did everything that I tell my clients to do when I ran my agency when I told them about email marketing, and just being consistent and you know, keeping your mind for, you know, doing all the basic stuff. That’s what works. So it can translate. So with your with, with Voy Media. How did you start scaling? Because you got 25 remote workers now? I’d love to talk about how you manage them. But to kind of backtrack a little bit from that, how did you start to actually hire them? Like it? Was it people that you knew from your network is different tech industries? Was it you know, indeed? or What did that look like?
Yeah, so one of the one of those one of those learnings that I learned early on was don’t hire your friends. So that was one thing. I was like, when I started avoiding media, I was just like, I’m not I me and Wilson, we’re just like, we know, we’ve had bad experiences from previous companies where the relationship it’s hard between like, it’s a friend plus a worker, and then when you like, correct them, it’s like, affects your personal relationships. So then, I think that we didn’t blame me. It was like, we’re not hiring friends ever. And it kind of looks as if it’s like you just learned, like, some people will tell you, but then once you actually experienced it, you’re like, Okay, yeah, like, I can see what people do that now. But anyways, how we started hiriing Voy Media it was it was myself and Wilson, Wilson’s other partner. He was a designer. So he actually worked. He actually worked at Google. So So we started hiring through. In the beginning, it was a lot of people found us through LinkedIn. So like one of our first hires that we have, but just emailed me on LinkedIn. And he’s like, Hey, Kevin, I heard you’re hiring. I’m actually looking for a job. And then we bought him in the next day. He was actually in New Jersey. And we got we got him in, right. Very, very crude interview process. At that time. I was like,
Like any business that’s just getting started. Nobody has a great interview process unless you took it from a previous agency.
Yeah. So that’s how we did that for that. And also remember, like we started what Delmon agency but like the what the agency Over 10 years ago, just me and Wilson and like a freelancer we hired. But now this is like, a we’re actually growing this thing now. So we hired him. And then we just started posting on angellist. I’m not sure people heard of it Angel.Co. It’s like a startup sort of platform. And that’s really where we get a lot of talent right now is Angel list. The reason why I know about Angel list is because during the text when I was applying for tech jobs, that was the biggest thing that we people would use, and had a lot of like these, like tech workers, kind of web designers, developers that have like this sort of problem solving skill. And that’s what we’re looking for. So we have started hiring from there. And then we were also posting, I think, public, you know, to Josh’s, like posts on these, these Facebook groups or communities, and talk about the work you’re doing. And then I hired my first guy that was remote. So so this is funny, because Wilson, he’s actually been remote. So he lives in Taiwan. So we were always kind of like this remote type of company. So like, it’s not like he’s here. So going back to our days before, it’s like we were always like, yeah, like we can work together. Like, I know, you don’t need to be next to me.
I feel like that kind of sets the precedent for the company. Like if you’re if the two founders are remote, then they’re, you know, the team’s naturally probably going to be remote, where I say, it’s probably a lot harder when there’s a core team that’s in a location together, and then you start hiring remote.
Yeah, so like, that’s like, it’s like in the beginning. We were always like, in this beginning, we’re always in the space of like, Are we going to have like a central office? Because we like being in York City. Because obviously, as an ad agency, people always like you’re in New York City. Oh, my god, you’re Yeah, it’s like that a lot. Right? Like, yeah,
I’ll be honest, man, I actually wanted to start making some connections with people in New York City, because I don’t so you’re like, I think you’re just about my first colleague who’s in New York City. I really don’t have any connections. I have a lot of Chicago and LA and San Francisco now, but nothing to New York. So you’re my first man. Yeah, I was very curious. Yeah.
Yeah. So it’s like, that’s like kind of like, Oh, we could say what New York City but Wilson was annexed in Taiwan. So Wilson’s Wilson’s like one of those traveling nomads, where like, every six months, he lives somewhere else. So he’s in Chile, Thailand, Taiwan, or Canada. You just traveled anyway. Right? So because he knows
Another another benefit of web design or any sort of online? Yeah. ad agency or marketing industry? Yeah.
Yeah. So then my second guy, he is actually from Slovenia. And he found me through just he’d messaged me on on Facebook, because I was posting on like, these Facebook groups about like, ad creatives ad copy. And he’s like, Hey, Kevin, like, I’m looking for a job. I don’t have too much experience. Would you like hire me? I was like, yeah, of course, like coming in. At that time. Like, you’re just like, looking for people. Because you’re just like, we had like enough clients, we’re just like, we kind of need help. It’s like, it’s always that balance of, I mean, you probably know, like, you have enough clients that you need help. But then you’re kind of like, you’re strapped for time, because you also try to onboarding new clients, you’re trying to like do sales calls. So it’s like, it’s always like, it’s always a balance. It’s so hard in the beginning till kind of like managers were like, hey, we’ll bring you on board. And he was actually good. We’re like, oh, wow, he’s actually good. Good, good worker. And then that’s we started hiring him.
And did you win in regards to the clients when you started boy media? Did you have a lot of clients from your web agency? And then your network? Or? Or do you know, to really build the clients up first before you started scaling?
Yeah. So in the beginning, like I never, I never really told people I had like my old stuff. So basically, how I started doing media was because I had another ecommerce company that I started called Montem, outdoor gear, and we were still running that company. So we’re selling like hiking poles, trekking poles, outdoor gear. And then we started another company called Chester, which is another e commerce company,
Man, I can’t keep up with all these companies you’re making man.
So like, for me, it’s like kind of like saying, like, I just like building stuff. So when I started Voy Media I never told people I made these companies because I was still running them. So I didn’t want these people to pit the potential founders be like, hey, how can you run Voy media plus other stuff? Um, because in the beginning, I thought that was like, actually, like, not that good. But Bye for now. Like, we’re much bigger now. Like, 25 people. That’s like, the first thing I lead off with, hey, by the way, I have these e commerce companies, so I know how to, like grow your business. And that’s just like, kind of like, just
Oh, that’s interesting. Yeah.
It’s like a shift in like, the mindset of like, the business owners, like, hey, look, like check it out. Like I know what you’re going through.
So well, it also if you have a team of 25 people, you could, you could probably have a little more room to say that you have other businesses because it’s clear that you’re not doing all the work whereas I’m sure in the beginning, yeah, if you’re doing all the work, all the sales, all the development and the deliverables, you can’t you know, you just spread yourself too thin. So that makes sense.
Yeah, so that’s I didn’t have any that for the longest time and and then now I’m just like, that’s a big picture we even mentioned, like writing the first deck like, this is my businesses like you, like because like you probably know, like, running a business and like, like e commerce, web design. It’s the business itself is kind of the same sort of skills, you kind of need, like you need to learn how to hire fire, train people. And of course, like, the actual output is a separate thing, right. So yeah, but anyway, that’s good.
Yeah, that’s a that’s a great point. Yeah, they’re really, there’s a lot of transferable things of just from a business perspective as a business owner, that it really doesn’t matter whether it’s web design or marketing, or even a completely different industry. Yeah, it’s a lot of the same stuff, sales and how you manage people and how you manage your time. That’s all just basic stuff.
That’s basic Yeah, like time management doesn’t matter. Like time manager for e commerce time manager for web design. It’s like you still got to manage your time, like it’s still tasks. But basically, that’s how like how we started hiring more remote people. And of course, this time, we were started using Slack. Slack was like the biggest thing that we had like to just talk remotely. And then of course, like Gmail was like, the biggest thing that we also did, but then at the same time, we were kind of doing a lot of like, just, I’m not sure if people know No, but Dropbox is popular, popular, right? But there was something called Dropbox paper. I’m not sure if people have heard of it.
Yeah, I saw it, but I don’t know anything about it. I was curious what the difference was.
So Dropbox is like the hosting platform. But then Dropbox paper, think about, it’s like Google Docs on steroids. where like, you can add like videos, images, clips to do lists. It’s like a paper that’s kind of like, a kind of you can do anything on it. I’m not sure if you’ve heard of it kind of
Is it more like an interactive type of…?
Yeah, interact? Yeah. Interactive Google Doc, have you heard of like Notion NotionSO? So Notions, another one like that, that’s like, this, like new revolution of like, Google Doc is kind of like a tech space thing. And now these platforms are just like making it more interactive, where like, you can have to do lists, you can have checkmarks, you can, you can pretty much make into like an air table, which is like a table list, like all this sort of, it’s like, kind of like a building block of like your mind where it is…
Yeah, I was just gonna say I don’t mean to cut you off there. Sorry, Kevin, it does seem like there are a lot of platforms now that are really integrating project management, team management, task managers, documents, all all kind of together, particularly from the team perspective, because if when you’re managing 25, remote people, you’ve got to have something like that. To keep everybody
Yeah, so yeah. And like, so like, that’s what we were using all that before, but I like one. And the thing about Dropbox, Baker paper was nice at that moment was that like, you could see when someone commented, it’ll say, like Kevin, Wilson, you know, and then so basically, we just had one sort of document for each client. And that’s how we managed it. Like we would actually do lists. That’s how we did remotely, but now much bigger. We use Asana now, so sign is like a traditional project management tool. Yeah. Yeah.
So so you’re starting to scale the agency, when you got your first few hires? Did the next round of hires when you started scaling? Did they come from more places like Angel list or stuff like that? Or was it like people they knew? Or liked it? I guess the question is, did the hiring process change? Once you had a few people already in place?
Yeah. So once we had a few people in place, we definitely change the process. Because at this time, too, we were seeing like cracks in the people that we’ve hired. So like anything, you have to evaluate the people it’s like, okay, like what you told me was not true, like, take what he told me was not true. And then like, you’re starting to let go of people. And then now we have a full hiring process. That’s four rounds, very structured process that we learned from a book, I think, and we just, we basically, were just like me, and most were just like, like, where are we going wrong? Like, we need to make this hiring process a lot better. So how it works right now is, we have like a first round, which is 30 minutes, which is like kind of a get to know you interview. We have a second one that now is talks about a little bit about your career goals, what you want to do with your life. Just kind of like your curiosity, we call it a curiosity one, then we have a third one, which is now a full in depth review of your resume, where we’ll ask you what what were you hired to do here? How our results measured? Most of the outcome with results? What did you like? How is your boss, how’s your team, and we’re all just like, we’re just like looking for key things right here. And then we have a fourth one, which I think is the most important one. Which is actually funny enough, because like before this call was actually doing it. interview is the reference one, where you just call people that you’ve worked with. And you ask them, How was Kevin how they worked with, and you get a lot of great insights, and feedbacks, and just a reference one because we’ve we’ve done we’ve seen it before, where the first three are really great. And then we call the references. And then they’re like, yeah, like really worked with him. I’m not really sure why you put me we’re like, okay, that’s weird. Like pick one, right? Yeah.
What was what was the book that you mentioned that outline that process?
I’ll have to get it for you. Yeah.
Okay. Yeah, let me know after I’ll put it in the open in the show notes.
But doubt, like this whole process now lives in Asana to where like, we pick a template, and then the templates like, this is what you’re asking, this is how you ask it. This is how you get the question. This is how you get the answer to the question you’re looking for. Very detailed. Because remember, now, me and Wilson aren’t the ones aren’t hiring, we know the process where we set it up, but now we pass it on to like a project manager or like the head of the department says hey, this is what you do. Because Yeah, cuz you need to decide Are you the business owner, visionary, or are you HR Are you the hiring photographer? Particularly at your level. Yeah.
Now, are you guys using the Asana for just internal team stuff? Or is that for client facing stuff as well?
So I so this is funny because we always battle like between that like a lot of it right now is internal, but then some clients are like, Can I get access to the signup board? And we’re just like, yes sir like, Alright, well give you like special access, it depends on the client. But we use it a lot for internal stuff. Yeah, like creatives ad copy, like where they’re on the roadmap. But it’s, it’s pretty much how we live like in that for remote teams. I think having some sort of system like this is so necessarily like in the beginning, kind of before we were on Dropbox, paper, and when you’re hiring more people were just like, wow, this isn’t scalable, because I now don’t really know who’s updating who, like, how do I tag people, all this stuff. And then we have to actually go through a process of researching project management was gonna be Monday was gonna be Asana was gonna be paper. And then we actually have to, it’s crazy. Like, if you do like a presentation on it, it’s like, Okay, this is why no,
We I use Basecamp for both internal team and client. And one reason I love Basecamp is you could set up private threads with just your team within one project. So like this thread was for this client. But I never my agency at its peak, I was managing one full time Freelancer and some other subcontractor so I could manage it. But with you know, I imagine once you get to like five or 10 people, it’s got to be something that is a task type of manager that everyone could see. Because Yeah, otherwise, you got to get everything out of your head, right? I imagine that one on one when you have a team.
It’s Yeah, it’s too hard. And like, it’s like anything, but even like anybody, it’s like, you’re always kind of like growing and trying to figure out what the issues are. Because some people pick up the tools quicker. Some people are like, no, you’re using it wrong. Like this is not how you tag somebody, this is not how you upload a file. And we actually even just now, like anything you probably know, like, as a business, you’re always constantly evolving. Like we were using Dropbox for the longest time. And now we’re just like, okay, right now we’re doing Asana, we’re doing Google Drive, we’re doing Gmail for clients sometimes get like a Google Doc, sometimes get like a Google presentation. But then when they upload creatives, they upload it to Dropbox, when we send it to them to get into Google Drive. And then now we’re just like, let’s just put everything in Google Drive. That way, we can completely remove Dropbox, we’re also paying like, $500 a month for that. So like, it’s like all these like, business stuff that like no one tells you like, you got to do this. It’s like it just happens. Because you’re kind of just like growing, you’re just like, and I always tell people like when you’re growing, you kind of thinking about like, Hey, this is what if it’s two, three people, but then we’d like to think about, okay, what happened to the company’s 100 people? How can we manage 100 people at once, because then you set yourself up for success in the long run. And especially when you want to think about like a remote team, where it’s like, everybody’s got to know kinda what’s going on, especially when you’re in different time zones. And I think that’s probably the hardest thing to manage a remote team is everybody’s time zones. So even for us Oh, sure. Yeah, even for us. We made like a Google Doc, like a Google doc or like, more like an Excel Doc, right? Google Sheet of like, everybody’s time zones, say, hey, when are you working? And when it’s the overlap, right?
You know, it’s funny, I, so I’m in Columbus, Ohio, and I just had no, I just never thought about different countries or time zones, or one of the biggest things that I found that was a problem was the hour changes. Because my lead my lead designer was in Australia, and then I had another one in Ireland, and one in South Africa or the Netherlands, she would switch between there. And then one was out west. And so like, I would have literally like all these different time zones. I was looking at my world clock every day on my phone. That was the only thing that kept me like, Okay, this person’s they’re probably working right now. Yeah. So yeah, that’s something that with remote teams, you really need to consider it does become, you know, it’s particularly with calls. I feel like emails, one thing because you could post something in Asana or Basecamp, or whatever, and they’ll get to it the next day. But calls are where it’s really tricky. I think there’s also another good question for you would be, how do you balance your time when you’re not working? Because it can be very easy at night, if you want to relax and be with your family or do a hobby, but then the other guys work in or the gals work in? And they’re like, Hey, I have a question on this. You can vary, you can fall into a trap where you’re literally just working 24 Yeah. Yeah.
And I think that’s is where, like, it depends on who it is. So for example, Wilson lives in Taiwan, and we’re completely like, 12 hours. He’s 12 hours ahead, right? So if it’s like 11 here, it means it’s midnight for him, right? Or it’s midnight right now. But basically, like, if a he’ll messaged me, and he needs something from me, like, I’m like, Okay, cool. Like, I’ll help you out, like in case like, quickly, like, we have to like review an interview. It’s like, hey, that’s the only time we have it right? So it’s like we’re pretty flexible I think. But that’s why this sort of like cheat that we made. It’s like okay, what’s like your core working hours? And what’s like your Hey, I’m on but I might, I can respond but maybe not respond. Right
Gotcha, that’s a good that’s an interesting dynamic right there. So there’s cuz you probably do have to have time for like deep focus. Work versus admin work where you can message back and forth and have some like flexible time. That’s, that’s probably a good principle I have there. To where you have like your off, like, don’t contact me, I’m not gonna answer in this segment, but then you do, I guess, unintentionally, I kind of had that to where I would have, like, I would not work eight hours in a full day to where I didn’t respond to anybody, I would just have like, a couple hour block, or that was my deep work time. But then the rest of the time, I could flip back and forth. Yeah, project management, and then tasks that I needed to get to or what that would come up. I’m big on having an hour at least in your day of reactionary work time to where Britt widget breaks on a site or something happens, you get to it, and you don’t have to put something else aside, I imagine the same is true, particularly with with a team.
Yeah, mostly just like ad hoc, like ad hoc things that comes up for the team like, hey, like, it’s like, it’s so funny that your team gets bigger your you’d like to experience issues that you just like, don’t think about, it’s like, hey, like, something happened to my family. I can’t work today. Or like, hey, like something happened with this. I’m like, Oh, God, like I didn’t really think about this random issue that you were probably having, right? It’s like, it’s like all this stuff that like as your team gets bigger, I think that’s sort of like something I’ve learned is just people are just like, so unpredictable. Like, it’s crazy. Yeah.
Now, did you? Did you take from your experience working in California? And then these other agencies? Did you kind of learn like how they manage their team and apply that to what you’re doing? Now? Do you have any lessons?
I think the biggest lesson I learned was probably, that people, most people want to know whether this is something that we try to get better at. It’s like most people want to know when they’re doing good or doing bad. And they just really want good, honest feedback about how they can improve. Because I remember when I was working in California, like I had a boss and great person, but he would just like, never tell us how we were doing. And then you’re just kind of like, so am i doing good? Or am I doing bad? And people hate getting told a dream bad? Of course. But it’s I think it’s better than it depends, obviously, for me, like depends on the type of person, right? The great people love being like, Okay, how can I get better, right? How can I get better? Whereas we’ve always had an army, we always had employees where it’s just like, they just like, don’t want to, they think they’re the best. I’m just like, okay, like, I don’t know how you think that but like, but then like you have other employees are just like, let me know what’s wrong? How can I improve? Because I want to just get better and better. And that is probably the hardest part when you have like, he’s a players that want to know, how can you get them even better? Because you’re, you’re me. We’re like, Whoa, like, you’re doing a really, really good job. Like, I’m trying to read as much as I can to know, okay, how can I get How can I what feedback should I say? What can I say to you? What, what, what, what, what, how can I possibly push even further? Right? And that’s like the hardest part.
Yeah, I like that. It was good. It’s kind of a cool quote. You said they’re the people who like the best workers, the ones who want to get better or ask how they can get better. that’s a that’s a great thing to keen in on because yeah, if you get the people who are just can’t take constructive criticism, well, or I think more importantly, don’t own up to any problems that they create. Or are it’s very clear, like they could have done a better job. But if they don’t own up to it, that is definitely something to watch out for. Because that can also I have you had any issues? sure everyone has who runs a team, but like, you have to be careful that negative thoughts and some of that stuff doesn’t spread to other workers. Have you ever had to let somebody go? Who was just spreading negativity? Or it’s like the answer?
Yeah, no, yeah, it’s we did, we had to, and you hear it every once in a while, and then when you start hearing it more, it’s like, okay, like, we talked to them say, hey, like this, people are saying this, like, well, blah, and then use that we have to let them go. And I think people firing someone sucks. But like we said before, it’s like all that negativity does spread quickly to the company. And either through like PMS, like hey, blah, blah, or to just like, in general, like talking through like lunch or random talks. Right. But I think that’s probably one of the worst thing that you could probably do is like, keep someone like that, even if they’re like a great person. Yeah, we’ve, we’ve had to let people go because of that. And it sucks. Like,
I heard a great quote that I think relates to this, and that is slow to hire quick to fire. Is that is that something you live by?
So hard? Yeah, it’s like it’s like a great quote, but like firing someone. I think it’s like, so hard. It’s like, Yeah,
Yeah, I’m, you know, the, with the idea, like I talked about with different industries, translating the business, I was a drummer in a rock band. And we were pretty serious for a while, and our bassist at the time. Super nice guy, hard to gold, was not the best musician and was just a little lackadaisical and would just like, sometimes he would show up to a show and forget his bass, and we’re like, Where’s your bass? Like? Yeah, there was problems like that. So eventually, we let him go. And we got this other bass player who was very professional, really talented, but pretty soon we found out that he was a negative, like cancer. Like he just spread that negativity. Everything was Negative and then all of a sudden, we kind of realized the the, the field the band change they went from like we enjoyed being around each other to like everybody was negative we were bitching about other bands we were we were getting jealous more we were getting like entitled, like we should have been bigger than we were all these little negative things. We were complaining about shows and promoters and stuff. And then we realized this guy like his negativity, even though it was just one comment here one comment here to spread. And so we ended up firing him essentially, which was a really good learning experience for me, because I did it like face to face, it was still one of those awkward experiences in my life. But he was crushed. And he was very upset, and essentially fired him and brought our oil basin. We were like, you know what, we can work on the other stuff. Yeah, we can make sure he has his base. We can work on the time management, but he like it was worth it to have somebody positive over somebody negative. Even if some of the values were different there.
And that’s so true. And I exactly what you said it’s like the negativity is it’s a it’s a slow comments that just creep up on people. And the best employees at least that you have, will tell you like, hey, like, that’s totally fine. That’s okay. Like, this is what this person is saying. I’m just like, I don’t think that’s right, because they also are feeling that negative energy. So like you want trusted employees that can tell you things. And I think it’s important to have a great relationships with people in your company. Because you don’t want to be just like this, like, boss, employer type of leadership that you kind of want to be like, you want to care about people. It’s like, hey, look what’s happening. And then that’s how we knew. But yeah, similar to what you said before, it’s like, you just gotta like, yeah, find people sucks, especially in person. When like, you see them you’re like, hey, yeah, just like leave your leave your laptop there. Like you can just like, you can go home like, it sucks. And it’s But yeah, I think I think the key thing that what you’re saying with your with your band thing, it’s like, a bad mindset can’t be changed. But there’s other stuff like work ethic, you can change that. But having a negative mindset is really, really hard to change somebody and especially when they’re just like negative, like, for example, one person, I’ll be like, hey, like, this person was like, What? 23 years old. I was just like, hey, like, I think you need to read this marketing book about like copywriting. And then the person was like, No, I know everything about copywriting. I’m just like,
Oh, oh, red flag.
Yeah, I was like, Whoa, like, That’s crazy. Because like, how do you know everything went like you didn’t go to? You didn’t study that. Or like, I know, you’re not good. Because I’m seeing your work. It’s like, Yeah, but it’s after a while you kind of like give people chances, like, like anybody, like any employee out there, like, can’t just fire people from laws in the US, right? Hey, it’s like, Hey,
I imagine that your level, you know, when there’s like something that particularly now that you have such an in depth hiring process, I imagine number one, you’re weeding a lot of those people out. But if somebody does get through that, I imagine you’re much quicker to recognize that. And it is I mean, at the end of the day, I don’t care what any law say if something’s going to take down your company, it’s got to be cut out. Yep. So that’s, it’s crucial. And I think your point, yeah, yeah.
I think it’s so important. Because remember, I always tell people, like it’s, it’s your company, or whoever it’s like, you are making a decision. Like, this is why I started if you have someone like this, it’s gonna hurt you. Why would you end like sometimes like, some people don’t understand it. But I’m like, hey, it’s my money. Like, I don’t want to. And it’s not. I tell people all the time, it’s not about the money. Sometimes it’s about the opportunity costs of the persons costing your company. Like, for example, like we hired somebody, and for six months, they just like weren’t doing anything. And then mean was just like, Whoa, like, I didn’t care about the money, six, six months, we didn’t grow. We’re just like, Whoa, that’s a waste of time for us. And that’s how we think about it now.
Gotcha. Gotcha. So, so we’re really talking a lot about managing a team the size remotely. So we’ve covered a lot of really cool tips on building the team, how you’ve done that. Managing. Do you have any other tips, particularly at this level, because managing a few people is totally different than the 25. So we talked about having some sort of like internal communication lane where it’s either slack or Asana or task manager versus project management. But what else have you learned with managing remote teams? Like, do you guys have deadlines? I guess, what is the what’s the contributor that helps your business grow while also managing that many people? Is it deadlines? Is it like sharing wins with people? What are some things that have helped you?
Yeah, so we have all we have all that stuff, like we have. So we have a good book club every week that media buyers, talk about books to keep, like, inform each other so they can keep learning. We have flex Friday, which is every Friday, it’s once a month, where you sort of show the winds of what you did for that month. So like people can like because it’s so hard to meet up. It’s like hey, look, guys, I read this book, and I learned this skill or Hey, guys, I implement this tactic then it worked really well. We also have which we’ll call it obviously Asana up for project management we have I’m trying to think what else we have for for this stuff. A bunch of
Do you do team like, calls to get the team together certain times a month or like anything like that?
Yeah. So we do have we have team qualified, the creative team has calls. We also have like the media buyer has calls every week. We also have every Monday, we have like the company wide call where like every get together for half hours discussing the company for the week. We also have
The other thing you could spend all week on calls. Yeah.
Oh, yeah, exactly. Yeah, my schedule, that schedule always causes like, so for example, this week, is probably one of our busiest next two weeks, because we have performance reviews for everybody in the company, where, and I think that’s goes back to kind of like what I said before, it’s, you need to establish early because if not, it’s a very easy thing to not do. So every three months, we have performance review, performance reviews of everybody in the company. And this is a self assessment, and also assessment of what you want to do the next three months. And what we use a system called OKR’s objectives and key results. And it’s by this book called “Measure What Matters” by John Doerr, really good book. So this is something like you kind of just build a muscle for it, where start early with, like your first one employee, and then progress this through. Now everybody does. So every now knows how they’re measured. So that’s what we have here. So this week is like crazy. Because like, we’re like, okay, send me your, send me your OKR. And then me Wilson review it. And then we have a meeting to discuss it and say, Okay, this is what you did well, on a scale of one to five. And this is where we see improvement. And then now this is what this is the goals for next three months. So it’s like one of those things where you just kind of like build the muscle for it.
What do what do you do mostly now in the agency? Do you find yourself running the team more than anything? Or are you more like visionary sales? That kind of Ser, I imagine you’re probably not doing as much sales. Now. What what, yeah, at this level, what do you do mostly,
I still I still do a lot of sales at the moment. So I actually just finished a new like video sales letter, this week that I recorded. And then I also do a lot of the pitching of any sort of client that comes in. Really, really that helpful, because I have the experience of running the company, but also have like my previous experience in my e commerce companies. And that helps me You probably know, like, as a founder, and you talk to other founder, like what we call it here in sales, it’s like you get the founder boost, which is like, automatically, you’re gonna get closed more, because you’re talking to the founder, and you can make any decision on the fly. Right?
I like that. What a good quote, a founder, the founder conversion.
Founder boost Yeah, we called the founder boost like, it’s because like, when someone asks you a question, it’s I’ve talked to other people about it. It’s because like, like Kevin, you can just say yes or no, like, you don’t have to talk to anybody for like confirmation, like, Oh, can you do this percentage? Like, that’s how we do an ad spin. Hey, we charge 20. Can you do 19? I’m like, sure, right? Whereas a sales guy be like, Oh, let me go talk to my boss. And that’s like, adds another layer, right? See how like I can make these sort of quick decisions that they like, that’s like, Oh, yeah, I know. I’m talking to the person in charge. It’s like, right.
So that’s Yeah, that’s a great point. Wow, what a good sales point. Because, yeah, for somebody in sales, who has to run up the ladder, they’re like, Well, I’d love to do that for you. But I have to see, then it’s like, well, this person. Yeah, what an interesting, I’ve never heard that before. But that definitely makes. So there’s a lot of value with being in a position like you are as the founder, or a CEO, or any other type of position where you’re at the top, but you’re also doing sales. And even as a freelancer, if you have a small team like that, the same method applies. Like you can still say you’re the CEO and founder of your agency, maybe you just have two people who you subcontract, but you’re the decision maker. And you can say, Yep, we can do this, or we can do that. That’s a really valuable point, man. I like that. And it is interesting. Another point I really wanted to hit on too, when it comes to managing teams before we wrap this up here is we talked a lot about your story about kind of where you came from. I’m glad that we did because I know that holds a lot of weight with your team because they know you’re all you can talk to them. You can speak tech, and I know with I’m sure with social media, it’s a little bit different than your background with coding and stuff. But at the same time, I imagine you can talk that you can talk the the tech stuff with your team, right?
Yeah, exactly. And that’s like and then even before that, like we Wilson we’re doing all the Facebook ads for people before being hired a team so like, they’re still like learning everything from us, like all the coding or the tech and but yeah, it’s so important. I think the team knows, like, what your experience was because it’s like, okay, like these guys know what’s going on. Yeah, and and that’s I think, I think for us, like a mistake we did was like, people would come work for us but they wouldn’t know like, Who’s Kevin or who’s Wilson and you really need to educate sometimes like your employees on who is the founding team because our certain level they just don’t really know you that well like like your first 10 like no me like my first like three hires like they talk to me every day. Like they come to me for anything. But then like as you’re hiring more people, it’s like you’re kind of slowly like not as connected to them where it besides like, Hey, what’s up? How are you feeling? Right? Hey, okay, cool. Like so I I think, I don’t know I always definitely I struggle with right now, too. It’s like, how do I keep that sort of like, close relationship with the people that I have that aren’t like the first 10 employees, right? Aren’t diversity. So it’s something you always struggle with?
Yeah, that I wonder if there would be some opportunity there for almost like a get to know you guys, as your team grow. Even if it’s like an internal QA, like your team, you just ask you guys questions, I imagine that could be really valuable. Because Yeah, I imagine at that level, they do want to get to know you and who they’re working for, particularly if there’s different levels, if you’re not working directly with the boss, or the CEO, or the founder. If there’s like three levels, you ideally want to hear more about the person at the top, I used to be a cabinet maker at a tour bus customizing shop, and would new hires would come in, they would always wonder about the owner, because I knew the owner. So I like my family used to be friends with them. So I kind of had a personal relationship there. But for people who came in, they didn’t know nothing about him. He just wasn’t in the shop ever. So it was like it was like a God that came through the shop once a week when he was in there, and people would flock to him. So I think that’s a really valuable idea. Maybe just some sort of segment monthly or whatever, just to, to get to know people. And I know, you hit on something really quick I wanted to touch on which was the sharing the wins. I have a buddy who created was a co founder of a platform called content snare, which is a platform for collecting content for clients. And he told me, he transitioned from being a designer and developer to being the owner of the business. And he found himself always giving the problems to the development team. Yeah, so they were always depressed, because every time they’d hear from James, you’d be like, Oh, god, what do we have to do now? And he caught himself doing that. And then he realized, you know what, I’m hearing all the good stuff from customers, I need to start relaying this the team. So I love that idea of having some sort of like wind segment where the whole company can hear like some really good stuff. That’s going on.
Yeah, exactly. It’s exactly why we did that. Because we would always tell them like, Hey, this is messing up. We like no, there’s actually a lot of good stuff that people just don’t know about. And I said before, it’s just it’s so important. And I think another sort of important thing that if you’re thinking about your company to is, at least we’re trying to get better at is like, in the beginning, it’s always like a flat structure, like, oh, like, there’s no hierarchy. And I think it works well for maybe three to five employees. But then like, as you grow, we’re noticing that like, it’s like, no one knows who’s who’s who’s boss. And they’re like, Kevin, are you my boss? I’m like, technically, Yes, I am. But like, technically, I’m not right. It’s like, it’s like, I technically, yes, like you work for me. But it’s like, I don’t really manage your day to day. So I don’t really know, like, if you’re doing well, so like, I can’t give you feedback, because I don’t know. And then I’m like, well, like, is this person? You’re my boss? And I’m like, I don’t know. I think so. It’s like,
It’s like a whole new set of challenges, because you got to have the hierarchy in place at some point with that many people.
Yeah. And and that’s, that’s sort of where we’re working on right now. And that’s like, like, I would tell people, like, we’re not perfect, and like we’re seeing, I think it’s so important for you as a business to see where the issues are, and sort of think about how do you fix them? Like, for this, I have to read books, like, Okay, I gotta go, I gotta go read a book now. Because I’m like, how do I learn how to do this? I’ve never done it before, besides a company that worked that, but let me go Google saying, Okay, how did you predict structure hierarchy? Because we’re seeing this sort of pain point right now, where no one really knows who’s who’s the real boss. And again, goes back to what we said before, too. It’s like, how do you move up now? Right? Because if everything’s flat, like who’s like head of department, who’s head of this who’s head of creatives? Who’s the creative director, like, then if you’re not a creative director, how do you become a creative director, right. And that’s, like, I think that sort of, for us, it’s like the business. But also we have to think about like people’s lives, because everybody wants to move up in their career. And if you have to as boss, I think about other people, too. It’s not just yourself now. It’s like, hey, they’re gonna be here for two, three years. They want to go somewhere else in three, four years. It’s very naive to think they’re going to stay with you forever, right? So that’s
Well, particularly if you’re hiring, like in the case of web design, if you hire a subcontractor at 25 bucks an hour, it’s likely they’re not going to stay there that long. So if you want to keep them, there’s got to be some sort of vision for them. And you got to see I, I was always big on when I first started hiring my main designer, I constantly asked him like how he was feeling. Did he enjoy the work? What was he wanted to do over the next few months? Like, was there an area he was interested in diving into more? That that seemed to be really effective at like us having a really good relationship for the long term. Now, again, I don’t have the experience with managing this many people, which is I think we’re having these sort of like department heads, you kind of have to like when you start your business you are that you’re wearing every hat and the business and then once you get to about five people, you could still manage everybody, but I feel like once you get to five to 10 that’s a whole new ballgame. And then I’m sure from 10 to 25. You’re entering a whole new ballgame. I don’t know what your vision is for the business. But if you guys want to get to like 50 I’m sure everything’s you know, it’s gonna have to three x every time everything you’re doing base or at least two x everything you’re doing.
Yeah, it’s tough. Yeah. And we want to get to 52. We’re just like, Okay, how but then we’re just seeing like so many cracks, like, okay, like, we did hire this person, okay, we need to hire. Like, do we need a real HR manager? Okay, what are the benefits? Okay? Like, what’s the onboarding process? Like, okay, it’s like all this stuff that like, when it’s one person, you’re like, Okay, cool, whatever, like ad hoc and understand it. But then like, when you’re hiring like your 20 employees, they’re like, when everybody goes through this process, we’re just like, yeah, it’s kind of messy. Like, no, that’s like, yeah, yeah, it’s fun.
We talked about the guys, guys from Basecamp. Earlier, I’ve read I think all their books to this point. And I love Yeah, yeah, I love I just love the, the idea that you don’t have to grow. If it’s outside, what you want to like Basecamp, I think is still about 50 employees, which is insane for their profit, like that makes so much money,
It’s so crazy!
To the point where they could work it out with 50. So I particularly like, not many of my audience are going to get up to 25. Maybe a big web design agency could and I’ve talked to some people recently who are doing big agencies, but the same principles apply to just one or a few people, which is great. And before we wrap up, cuz I want to ask you one final question here. But one thing you said I really liked. And I think this is important for people to hear is that in the beginning, it’s good to do the work. Because when you get to a position that you are in, it’s going to help you relate to the people you hire. And they’re going to know like, Well, you know, Kevin went through this. So he has to understand the project scope. Like for web designers, there’s nothing worse than a salesperson who sells a website. And then they give it to the designer and developer and they’re like, there’s no way we could do this for the budget that you sold, you know, so I think there’s a lot of valuable there’s I just wanted to say that for people who are in the beginning, doing all the work, but maybe you have dreams and aspirations of being the the CEO or the visionary, and you don’t want to be in the weeds. There’s a lot of value in what you’re doing. And then you can start to hire that out. And it will, it will definitely translate.
Yeah, and I think it’s so important because it helps with selling too. Like one of the biggest questions I get is Kevin, like, Can I get you to run my combat campaigns? As it’s like, no, sorry, like, I’m not gonna do because like, Well, you know, it’s so well, it’s still so much confidence in the prospect, like, oh, wow, like the founder knows it. That means everybody’s company must know it, too, because they’re probably training them. And I think at some point, especially when I like go deep in like Facebook ads. They’re like, Oh, wow, like, you know, so I’m like, Yeah, like, I know it because I did it before, obviously, I don’t run it now. But I have a team that I’ve trained to sort of get that up. But yet, it’s so important. And that’s probably one of the biggest questions I get, like, Are you good? Can you run my campaigns? I’m like, no, sorry, I can’t, but like, I have a team that my team that was actually pretty good. So you can pay for you
Now do you link your team in in the early in the process, like when it comes to onboarding or even sales? Do you have like, people on the sales call with you to kind of introduce them or like, has that helped with conversions.
So what are usually our processes, they’ll come back to us, we’ll schedule a call, like on zoom, whatever. And then I’ll do like a, like a 30,45 minute call. And then depending on like, their budget, and within like, five to 10 minutes, I think like with anybody that’s sort of done like this for a while, you kind of know if it’s gonna be a good fit based on like, what the client says how they’re saying things, you’re like, Okay, like, I can tell, you’re gonna be hard to ask, like,
I can literally tell, within the first two sentences of an email, I can tell exactly what this person’s gonna be like.
Yeah, and I think it’s so funny, because people always ask, how do you know, I’m, like, you know, like, you just know.
Yeah, when you do, you’re in sales for a while, you just, they’re just literally a few types of people. And you can you can lump people in Now, some people have variants of their personality. I’m a big guy on DISC. When I did some business training, I learned about disc dominant people versus interactive people versus stable versus cautious. Like, there there are the these these, like four main types of people, and everyone will will, will kind of sort into these categories in it. I thought it was totally bogus when I first went through it. And then as I went on, I was like, Oh, my God, that is 100%. Yeah, like and I, I have the same I can tell with students. Now I know what kind of students are more dominant, and how I need to coach them versus people who are a little more cautious and how I need to encourage them in certain areas and talk to them differently. So yeah, that’s fascinating. And I don’t know if you apply that to any your team, but I know it’s huge when you work with people, because you have to know like, you can talk to a dominant person differently than you would a cautious person.
Yeah, it’s like just your language patterns. I tell people like it’s selling just language patterns, like for us, like, let’s say you’re saying like, oh, like increase your profit, right? And then they’re saying like that, let’s say for example, is saying revenue, you’re saying like net sales, like, okay, like, say what they’re saying, okay? Hey, because your net sales, that way you’re like connecting with them. So all these like sales techniques and topics, like use the words that they’re saying, even though you know, that’s not how you would say it, but for them, it feels like oh, yeah, this guy gets me right. So yeah,
That’s what Dude, it’s one of my biggest sales tips. I’ve talked about it a few times in the podcast, but yeah, I call it matching and mirroring and Yeah, exactly. Matching. Yeah. identifying a keyword because I used to do that all the time of a client would say, I just want our website to just be fresh and modern. If they said that early in the call, I’d wait till the very end, I’d say, all right, well, this looks good. We’ve got a plan for you. What the plan is to make your website that’s going to be fresh and modern. And they’re like, Oh, yeah, fresh and modern.
Exactly. Yeah, exactly. It’s like, it’s probably one of the best tactics you could use. It’s not just a sales tactic. It’s actually tactically like general in life to it.
So yeah. Relationships or family, whatever. Yeah. But yeah, like, yeah.
Oh, yeah, I will say like sales. It’s like, I think, at least coming from me, you probably know, too. It’s like, I never learned sales. But then like anything, like I just read books and watch YouTube videos, and I was just like, Whoa, like, just small tips and tricks can really make that process a lot better. Going back to kind of what we said before, like Asana, we have a template for hiring. We also have a template for sales. Every question I asked on a sales call is templated. Like, even starting from the beginning, which is like, hey, Josh, can you hear me? I literally have that in my thing. Yes. So basically, I’m getting you to say yes, ready? So that way we can start the conversation. Okay, great. So you’re in this like, Okay, great, Kevin. So you’re saying yes to me, and then go from there. Everything is like templated. Like, I don’t leave any like, I tell people like, just template. It’s like a script. And people always say, you probably know if you’re like, oh, but it’s like, it’s gonna sound real. I’m like, look at your favorite movie. That’s all script like, you think the actors are doing it ad hoc? No, like, just practice going through a mirror and practice, practice. Right? Yeah, I’ve
heard a lot about the small yeses and how that can lead to a big Yes. Because you do ask a lot of questions where your lead is saying no all the time, or you get them to, like, do you like your website? Now? If you have problems, or you know, if you just get them to say no, all the time, it’s actually it seems like it might be a really good lead, but sometimes that can harm you there.
Yeah. And also, if they say no, or anything like that, too, it’s like, it means they probably don’t understand it. And then you can just like restate in a different way. I’m not sure if you heard about what what we call is like looping. It’s like, okay, like, maybe they understand this. Let’s loop them around with a different way. It’s really the term like loop dumps, right? Okay. They like fresh and clean. Okay, when I say like, modern and sexy. Oh, that makes sense. Okay, great. So no, this is what you you think of that term? Right?
Okay. Well, Kevin, we’re gonna need to do around two on sales, man, because I think we could go for hours on that. So let’s save that for a round two man. But this has been great. We’ve covered I think, some good ground on, you know, we started with with your story and the value of doing some of the work in your case, it was coding and figuring out that you wanted to be an entrepreneur and you, I could see your shift from, you know, having these opportunities, being a designer, being about developer to being a business owner, and running multiple businesses and taking what you learn and to avoid media here. So you started, you know, we had you had your I’m sorry, what was your partner with
Sorry, I got Danny from so yeah, Wilson. Never gonna forget that now. Because now I’m thinking of Tom Hanks with the volleyball now. So you’ve got, you know, you guys started the business angels list. Some other places where you’re, you know, getting some good leads, and you’re you’re managing a small team at first imagine sounded like, once you started scaling, you really needed to think about your hiring process, got to have those internal systems, you talked about using like Slack, and settling on Asana and some of these other tools to be kind of your, your, your hub as far as where you guys all communicate. But then what I really liked what you talked about with a team of your size of 25 is you’re doing things to keep them engaged, knowing the hierarchy, doing things like the wins, the the books, the good challenges, it sounds like to get people to stay within it talked a little bit about where you’re headed. I guess my final question for a man is what advice would you give for somebody who wants to scale even if it’s just a few people, but they know they want to make an agency bigger than themselves? What could you have? Like one piece of advice you’d give them?
Yeah, I think you for us the best at scale is just having like good books of accounting of like, who you can actually hire. I think for us, it’s like, we would need to know our pnls like every month that we can project, our cash flow that would say, Okay, great. If we bring in, you know, Danny, he’s she should be good for the company of at least six months, with the current clients we have. That way, you can then say, Now, I only need to bring in two more clients to go back to the previous revenue that we were happy with. So just like having a good understanding of your numbers, I think it’s so important.
That’s great. I wasn’t expecting that from you. I figured it’d be something else. But sounds like having a data driven approach. Because I guess you have to at that level, right? Yeah, it’s got it like you have to be a numbers. You have to look at the numbers at that level.
Yeah, get to know like, okay, who can we hire like, Okay, how much buddy like let’s be projector projector salary six months out. This is what our expenses would be. Let’s say we don’t get any like, let’s say you don’t get any new clients. Can you afford the team still? Right? Okay. And then and then you can see like, okay, I only need two three more clients paying this much to be happy again. Right. So awesome. Happy. It’s like your own internal happiness. Yeah, right.
Like stop stressed out. They’re like how we’re gonna pay these people. Like, yeah.
Oh, it’s huge man. Well, Kevin, thanks so much for taking some time. I know you’re a busy guy. I know you said to get a lot of calls this week. So let’s get to it. Really appreciate you sharing what you’ve learned so far. Like I said, I think maybe around to talking about some sales tips will be really cool. Where can my audience go to find out more about you, man?
Just boy media.com or just Kevin@voymedia can always email me. That’s the best spot.
Awesome. And you have a podcast as well, right?
Yes, the digital marketing Fastlane. So really, we do interviews with other founders. But then we also talk about Facebook ads and just it’s we try to not do Facebook ads because we know that marketing is more than that. So we talked about like just concepts of digital marketing, ad copy creatives, because I tell people all the time like business you can apply for many things. So don’t Niche we tried not to be like so niche. But of course, we that’s our audience. We try to be very tactical on that, too.
Yeah. Yeah. Awesome, Kevin. Well, great, man. I’ll link that up all in the show notes. Thanks so much for your time. And until next time, man.
Thanks for having me.