How to Hire and Fire Your Way to a $300k-year Business in Less than 6 Months

Do you remember when you started dating that person you thought was the one?

Everything was perfect at the beginning. As they say, love was in the air.

But once you started getting to know the person, everything changed (for worse, ugh!).

Without realizing it, you were trapped in a toxic relationship you wanted to end. But you just couldn’t end it.

Maybe because you didn’t know how to do it. Or perhaps you were avoiding that awkward moment. Or maybe because you liked the person. He/she was nice. But only that: nice.

There was no evolution nor growing together. It was painful and it was draining you.

But once the relationship ended, your life changed for the better.

You started to feel happy. You did the things you couldn’t do before, and all of a sudden you started achieving a lot of goals by yourself.

Well, that toxic relationship you had (hopefully just once) is very relatable to an employee-employer relationship.

Remember that awesome applicant who seemed to be a perfect fit for your team? After hiring them, you regretted it because they didn’t work out. You felt stuck. Like you couldn’t fire them because you’d just brought them on.

But like a toxic relationship, a problem employee is holding your business back.

In this article, you’ll learn how you can end those painful work relationships with people who aren’t a fit. And also, you’ll get the 15 tips we’ve followed here at AutoGrow to hire and fire our way to a $300K business in less than 6 months.

Now, let’s end that relationship with the person who’s stopping you from growing!


The only thing worse than a
bad hire is keeping one

Owning a business isn’t easy-peasy. It takes time, money, discipline, and a great team that can make the success of the company a reality.

Now, growing a business is even tougher. In fact, a study by Fundera says:

  • 2/3 of companies survive only 2 years in business
  • 50% of all businesses will survive only 5 years
  • And 1/3 will survive 10 years

What do these statistics show? That the longer a company has been in business, the more likely it’ll stay in business. Because the first few years are often the hardest.

The uncertainty of what to do to grow and how to do it can be overwhelming. And the decisions you make will determine the success of your business.

At AutoGrow, we’ve been creating, customizing, and optimizing funnels for our 20+ Done-For-You funnel service’s clients. We’ve also broken the $300K revenue mark in less than 6 months. 

We’ve created a solid business operation that has made possible the launch of some of our clients’ accounts in as little as 20 days. And we’ve been able to maintain a 91% client retention rate too.

Oh, and by the way, did I mention that our refund request rate for products in these past 6 months is 4.5% and for our Done-For-You service 0%? That’s right!

And a big part of this has been possible because of the best takeaway Matt, AutoGrow’s founder, took from October’s 12% growth. Hire slow and fire fast. That’s it.

That’s also something Russ Perry, the founder of Design Pickle has mentioned to Matt in a recent interview. He affirms that the biggest mistake he has made and that has made him learn the most has been hiring the wrong people.

For us, hiring the right team members have been vital in our solid business operation. But firing team members that haven’t been a fit has simply been essential and necessary. 

You see, most companies simply settle for team members who don’t reach out for the high standards, don’t do the work, or do the work wrong.

We’re certainly not one of those companies. We push our team members to do the work right. Because we expect it and our clients expect it. And this has helped us grow our yearly revenue to $300K+ in less than 6 months.

You may not realize this (yet) but keeping bad hires on your team could literally be costing you time, clients, and money.

There’s a wise saying, “The best candidate doesn’t always get the job.” So odds are you’ll end up hiring the wrong people once or twice (and even more times).

But don’t worry, because all managers sometimes hire bad employees. But great leaders recognize their mistake and fire FAST.

So be a great leader, step in, and FIRE.

Sure, it’s awkward. But even more uncomfortable is carrying an unnecessary weight on your shoulders that could be jeopardizing both your health and the health of your business.

Based on our experience at AutoGrow, here are 15 tips we’ve applied to hire and fire our way to a $300K business (and counting) in less than 6 months!

Tip #1. Create awareness and promote your job ad

You already know how to hire the right team members. But in case you forgot, here’s a quick reminder. 

The first step in hiring someone is to build brand recognition and trust within the applicants. With a recognizable and admired brand, you can start attracting more and better candidates.

A study by LinkedIn shows that 52% of candidates explore a company’s site and social media accounts to learn more about them before applying. 

And that’s exactly what we do at AutoGrow. 

We have “We’re Hiring” in our navigation and footer. And we also have a career page on our website. Here’s where we condense the most relevant information about our company and the job openings. 

Creating brand awareness and promoting your job ad like we do will make it easier for job seekers to learn about your company without having to look very far. 

Tip #2. Evaluate your candidates’ skills

In this step of the process, job seekers are aware of your brand. They already know you’re a  good company and have already applied for the job opening.

Once you see application forms being filled out, it’s time to send applicants a skill test. This is where they’ll show you how worthy they are of being hired by your company.

A skill test is nothing but a work sample. It can take 2-3 hours to complete. 

Here you can see applicants’ performances and strengths. And you’ll evaluate efficiency and responsibility.

One good idea to help filter candidates is to have a scoring system with the spreadsheet shared above. That’s actually what we do at AutoGrow. We score different aspects of the interview and the skill test and then we do a final evaluation based on each person’s score.

Then, we go over their pre-interview and skill test score and we make the decision whether to proceed or not to the next step.

Tip #3. Document all communication with new hires

This step is critical in a hiring and firing process. It helps hold everyone accountable.

If for example you ask your employee why something wasn’t done or wasn’t done on time, you’d just check your records or communication and easily prove (or disprove) your statement.

You may hire someone in good faith, but when the moment of firing them comes, they may not take it that well.

Last year, a team member that had been working for AutoGrow for a while started disappearing.

When she was advised that that wasn’t a professional behavior, she decided to leave the company. She did it in good terms. She even messaged Matt thanking him for the great opportunity she had and how great the experience working for the team had been for her.

Well, a couple of days later an anonymous review appeared from nowhere online.

It was pretty obvious the review came from this former employee. 

The thing is, there’s nothing wrong about posting a review online from a company as long as it’s true. Speaking of which by the way, don’t forget to monitor your online reputation. That’s how we found out about this review.

But in this case, this former employee posted the review based on a false premise. We easily disproved it because we had everything documented. All email communication, team call recordings, and contracts signed.

She ended up removing the review, of course, because she knew she could have gotten into a bigger legal trouble.

There was another case where having everything documented was extremely helpful. A designer kept submitting landing page’s design that weren’t at the level they must’ve been. QAing her work became a bottleneck in the process. There were so many errors and inconsistencies that we decided to create a checklist. 

In it (see image above) we included all basic things she had to “check in” when designing and submitting her work.

This actually helped speed up the process. Every time she said “I didn’t know I had to do X”, we said “it’s in the checklist.”

So cover your back and document absolutely everything that proves that X and Z were communicated to your employees.

Tip #4. Pre-interview and interview candidates

So far your hiring process has been great. You’re one step closer to making your way to hiring the right people and firing the wrong ones. 

By now, you already saw some applications filled out and reviewed the skill tests that were submitted.

Now it’s time to make a short 15-minute pre-interview to the candidates that performed great in their skill tests.

If you have a virtual team like AutoGrow does, go with a Zoom or Skype call. And have your Project Manager filter applicants in this step.

What we do at AutoGrow is we ask the candidates if they’re willing to be interviewed on that same day. We then see how interested they are in being hired.

For instance, last week our Project Manager pre-interviewed a candidate, and when Matt asked him if he could hop in a quick call with him, at least 4 excuses came…

  1. He was tired
  2. It was late
  3. He needed to schedule the call in Calendly first
  4. He wanted to know the compensation before the interview

I actually ended up hopping on a quick call with him instead. 

I listened to him talking about himself (and asked zero questions about the company) while he occasionally drank a cup of tea in his kitchen while wearing what I can only assume was his pjs.

My error was to not end the call sooner. I was actually too polite because if someone takes a call in such a casual way, hmmm they probably won’t be a fit.

But the background and outfit weren’t the only issues. He didn’t give straight answers to any of the questions I asked him. He was vague and it literally took him like 8 minutes (I timed it) to answer “what’s your biggest challenge as a Project Manager?”.

After this pre-interview, the candidate was dismissed. Especially since he wasn’t willing to be interviewed by the founder of the company ASAP.

Another particular situation where pre-interviewing someone was a great way to filter out candidates, happened a couple of months ago. 

Our Project Manager jumped in a call with an applicant that, believe it or not, while being interviewed, someone was taking a nap behind him on the couch.

Obviously, this was a red flag. Would you imagine hiring someone who’d casually hop in a call with clients and have someone sleeping on the couch next to them?

See the importance of pre interviewing someone?

Well, if after pre-interviewing someone you still see potential, move them to the interview with the founder or whoever will be their supervisor.

This interview is for you to ask and find out everything you’re looking for in the candidate.

Another red flag to watch out for is if candidates don’t know basic things about your company like the name and what you do. If that happens, stop the interview and NEXT.

This applicant I interviewed last week wouldn’t stop talking about how AutoGrow was turning 10 years from being founded. He kept saying “congratulations”. But beyond that, it seemed like he didn’t know anything else about us.

So, the same way you qualify leads and filter out the bad ones before getting on the phone, do the same with your applicants in the pre-interview and interview process.

It’ll save you loads of time in the long run. 

Tip #5. Hire on a trial basis

Being a $300K company and making it happen in less than 6 months obviously takes time. But you’ve seen how hiring someone who’s a fit hasn’t been too hard, right?

Now that you’ve selected the right applicant to make it to your team, it’s time to hire them on a trial basis.

There’s a big difference between telling them “you’re hired” and “you’re hired on a trial basis.

The last one is necessary because even though you’ll be hiring them and paying them, they’re still on probation. So they need to work hard on earning being fully hired after that trial.

Tip #6. Evaluate your new hire’s punctuality

Before even investing time and money training someone who may not make it through the trial period, evaluate their punctuality.

Let’s face it, the most basic thing that an employee must do when they’re hired is to show up on time. It’s as simple as that.

It’s like giving a Christmas gift to someone and saying “Thank You.”

If on their very first day or week they don’t show up or show up late, this is another red flag.

Even though you have a virtual team, team members must show up and respond to requests on time.

Otherwise, the team and the business as a whole will end up suffering.

Tip #7. Train your new hire

After you see that new hires have shown respect for the working hours, it’s time to train them. 

For this, you must have your processes documented. This way it’ll be easy for you to train people in the near future. 

For instance, document each role’s workflow, responsibilities, processes — everything that can be teachable to the next hire.

You can do this in the form of word documents and/or videos. 

We actually created a super useful and complete training video for content writers, but the 2 people who’ve gone through it didn’t really follow any of the guidelines.

Alex and I (AutoGrow’s content writers) went through the writing checklist point by point with one applicant, and whether she didn’t care, or she didn’t pay attention.

Consider this a red flag.

If you have detailed training, and the new hire doesn’t follow it, this may be a really bad sign. 

Let’s see in the next steps what you should do if this is the case.

Tip #8. Test your new hire’s ability to solve problems

Problems and chaos are some of the most common painful situations that businesses face. In fact, Chris Ronzio, founder of Trianual told Matt in an interview “There is chaos in every business, and if you’ve got opportunity, you’ve got chaos.” 

That means that behind every problem or chaotic situation, there’s the possibility of solving the problem, moving forward, and succeeding.

So if you’re planning to hire someone, they better have a problem-solving type of mindset.

For instance, the image above is an example of a Skill Test we ask designers to complete. 

And we not only ask them to complete a task and submit it. We give them additional instructions to see if they’re capable of solving. See at the end of the document how we ask them to think a little more outside the box?

You won’t believe how many applicants fail to answer properly that part of the Skill Test.

You need someone you can rely on when unexpected situations pop up. And you want them to do it even before you ask them to do it.

This type of hire is rare to find but they certainly do exist.

So it’s important that you watch how they solve problems. Especially if they come up unexpectedly.

Tip #9. See how they take responsibility for mistakes made

Employees hardly admit if an error was really their fault or not. It’s easier to blame someone else, right?

Don’t keep someone who deflects blame or doesn’t own up to the mistake instead of admitting they forgot to do something.

This part of the process is very important because sometimes it’s better to not spend too much time training someone who you can’t even trust to be honest with you.

Tip #10. Check the quality of the work

By now, you’ve already evaluated your new hire’s level of responsibility, commitment, seriousness, and punctuality. Now it’s time to check the quality of the work.

  • Is their work impeccable? Or does it have any mistakes?
  • Are they constantly improving? Or is the quality of the work staying the same?
  • Are they interested in learning? Or are they settled down and not looking to grow?
  • Is the quality of the work great? Or is it just ok?

You know that you can boost conversion with quality assurance and you know how to do so. So always look for people who submit great work that brings in positive results for the company.

If your new hire consistently delivers low quality work, chances are it won’t change.

A couple of months ago we hired a designer. 

For as long as her trial period last, there were just a few high-quality landing page designs submitted by her. 

It took a lot of work, time, patience, and headache to bring one design where it must’ve been in the first place. 

So, the work shouldn’t take more than one or two times to be reviewed and fixed.

Tip #11. Communicate your concerns if the work isn’t done right

If the team member you hired on a trial basis makes a considerable mistake 1 or 2 times, assume first it was the system or training process’ fault. 

The case could be that the person in charge of training the new hire failed or forgot to teach them something.

So instead of accusing and assuming they are the problem, clearly explain to the person what was wrong and why and that it shouldn’t happen again.

At this point, give one first warning. But don’t be too agreeable about the situation, either. Be sure to convey the seriousness of the situation and that it needs to be fixed in the future.

Tip #12. Don’t accept mediocrity

Too many errors happening isn’t ok. You need to make a diagnosis of what’s making the issues persist. 

If your new hire makes a second mistake after previously receiving notification or after communicating your concerns, that’ll be a red flag.

You want to hire someone who minimizes errors, not who maximizes them.

So the second time this happens, assume it’s the person’s fault. Hold the person accountable and give them a final warning. 

Remember to not be too agreeable. This could make your new hire have the type of mindset of “my boss is a really nice guy, he doesn’t care that much if the work isn’t done right.”

This type of team members won’t help you be a $300K company. Not even in 1, 5, or 10 years.

Tip #13. Hire slow, fire fast

Finally, if after thoroughly giving someone the opportunity to be a long-term team member, they don’t do a great job, proceed to FIRE them.

This will save you time, money, clients, and headaches.

Remember, the only thing worse than a bad hire is keeping one.

Ideally, if you’re considering firing someone, you should have a backup. But if you don’t have anyone else, fire the person fast anyway. 

Tip #14. Don’t snap at your new hires

This may sound like an obvious one (which it is), but when it comes to firing someone — especially if they’ve caused you so many headaches — keep a professional attitude.

Chances are you’ll be pissed off with the person but that doesn’t mean you’ll yell or curse.

You want to keep the firing moment short and sweet. No snapping at the person and no slamming the door.

Tip #15. Give your reasons for firing them

Have you ever been in a relationship where the other person breaks up with you and they give you no reason for it? Not even the “it’s not you, it’s me” classic?

Well, when firing someone, don’t forget to tell them why you’re doing it. Be clear and communicate professionally. Don’t only say “you’re fired.” Explain them with facts why you made that decision. 

They’ll appreciate your honesty and this will help them leave on a positive note. And they’ll probably be less likely to try to hurt your company’s reputation too. 

But if that’s the case, you already know how to turn a bad review into a marketing win.

And don’t be discouraged if you fire someone. Start the process again and you’ll become the next $300K company in less than a year!

Conclusion

See how easy it is to go from hiring to firing?

It’s not that firing would be your end goal, but it’s definitely part of the success of your business.

Keeping a bad hire can cost you time, money, and even clients. So consider removing them as soon as you start seeing some red flags.

Don’t settle down with someone who’s just doing an ok job. Aim for someone who does a great job and improves every day.

If you want to hire and fire your way to a $300K business in less than 6 months (just as we did at AutoGrow), you better start following these 15 tips…

  1. Create awareness and promote your job ad
  2. Evaluate your candidates’ skills
  3. Document all communication with new hires
  4. Pre-interview and interview candidates
  5. Hire on a trial basis
  6. Evaluate your new hire’s punctuality
  7. Train your new hire
  8. Test your new hire’s ability to solve problems
  9. See how they take responsibility for mistakes made
  10. Check the quality of the work
  11. Give a first warning
  12. Give a final warning
  13. Fire fast
  14. Be professional
  15. Give your reasons for firing them  

And if you need help hiring the right people to do the job for you, reach out to us. At AutoGrow, we can build your sales funnel without you having to lift a finger.

Now tell me something, what’s the worst experience you’ve had when hiring and firing someone? After firing a bad hire, did that help your business grow?

Let me know in the comments below.

Keep funnelin’, stay focused,

Mariana

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