EFP 118: Retaining Employees In Startups

Justin Cooke November 28, 2014

It can be tough when you’re praising the benefits of entrepreneurship one minute and talking about the value of being on YOUR team the next.

How DO You Retain Employees in a Startup Environment?

Joe and I work through some of the common complaints and issues employees have in startups and how we think you can address them directly and honestly.

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Issues Discussed This Week:

  • Wanting to build their own business
  • Not having enough autonomy
  • Lacking passion in what they’re doing
  • They’re not being paid what they’re worth
  • They’ve learned all they could and need something new


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Have you had a difficult conversation with an employee who wanted to leave for the reasons we discussed in this episode? How did you resolve the issues? Share your stories in the comments below!


Justin:                   Welcome to the Empire Podcast, episode 118. It can be tough when you’re praising the benefits of entrepreneurship one minute, and talking about the value of being on your team the next. In this episode Joe and I are going to work through some of the common complaints and issues employees have in startups, and how we think you can address them directly and honestly to retain your employees. You can find the show notes and all links discussed in this episode at EmpireFlippers.com/Retention. All right, let’s do this.

Speaker 2:           Sick of listening to entrepreneurial advice from guys with day jobs? Want to hear about the real successes and failures that come with building an online empire? You are not alone. From San Diego to Tokyo, New York to Bangkok, join thousands of entrepreneurs and investors who are prioritizing wealth and personal freedom over the oppression of an office cubicle. Check out the Empire Podcast. And now your host, Justin and Joe.

Justin:                   All right Joe, there seems to be a bit of a disconnect between what we talk about in terms of running your own business, being your own boss, and entrepreneurship. And, what we’re asking employees on our team to do. We’re saying, “Look, there’s real value in being your own boss, and setting your own hours. Oh yeah, but we want you to go work for our team, and help us build our business.” That seems odd, doesn’t it?

Joe:                        It does, but I have to say that I think there is some value in being an employee once in a while. I learned a lot as an employee, and I think especially early on in your career, it can be valuable to work for someone else.

Justin:                   It’s funny Joe, ’cause from all of us that talk about entrepreneurship, and kind of running your own business. Often we hear the advice of, I’ll be giving it, right? I say, “Yes, you should start your own company.” Or, “Yes, I think you should go off on your own.” Other people do the same, and I’ve actually heard advice from you quite often, where you say, “Ah, maybe you should go work for someone for a bit.” You’re not quite as on the bandwagon as I think some of the rest of us are, so it’s probably a more difficult pitch for me, right? I think to give, because I’m the one that’s constantly saying that you should run your own company, you should do your own thing.

But, I agree with you. I think there is some value in working for a company. Aside from learning the politics and everything, just understanding how a company works, and being responsible for just a couple of roles instead of wearing all the hats, you know, like you do as an entrepreneur.

Joe:                        Yeah, because you figure even a medium sized company, maybe they don’t have it figured out. But, at least they have some processes in place, and you can start to emulate those, the ones that did work well. You could try to figure those out for when you do have your own business. I would say for a young guy coming out, five years or so is a good amount of time to get that kind of stuff under your belt.

Justin:                   I like what you’re saying. I specifically like the idea of not working for a very large organization. You’re not employee number 13,362 in an organization that already has everything figured out. I mean, they’ve got all the low hanging fruit, they’re really kind of tweaking the really kind of high end stuff. With a smaller or medium size company as an employee, there are screw ups, there are opportunities that are being missed, that they just can’t grab onto. Maybe they don’t have the staff, or they don’t have the talented people to figure out what those opportunities are. But, working as an employee in an organization like that gives you I think the vision to kind of see some of those mistakes, and get them fixed, and really provide value.

Joe:                        Yeah, I agree. I think that’s key to this kind of model. You can’t go work for an absolutely huge company. Your specific job is going to be so niched down, that you’re not going to get a wider view of the overall corporation.

Justin:                   Yeah, and if you’re not growing, you don’t have that opportunity to kind of really make a difference, or provide impact within the organization, it’s probably not the right one for you. You probably should find a job somewhere else. We’re actually going to get into how to keep your team entrepreneurial within your organization, so from a Founder’s perspective. We’re also going to talk about how to approach employees that are looking at greener pastures, some of the conversations you can have. We’re also going to make sure that you can provide your team with, you can empower them basically, to make sure they’re having an impact within your organization. If they’re not, you know, the conversations and the things you can do to make sure that they are.

Before we do that, let’s take a quick break to cover our featured listing of the week. What you got for us Joe?

Joe:                        We’re talking about listing number 40,097. It’s a technology site, monetized with Amazon and AdSense, specifically in the remote control helicopters, kind of these new drone kind of remote controlled quad copters that are coming out. It’s extensively about them, gives reviews about those kind of products. Like I said, it uses AdSense and Amazon, so it uses a well known monetization method that’s going to be great for the upcoming holiday season. It makes about $1,000 a month net profit right now. They add some content now and again, but other than that there’s not really a lot of management. It’s got about 40,000 page views coming in, in the last 30 days.

The one thing it is, it’s not based on WordPress. It is just static HTML pages. You would need to know how to manage that kind of thing. But, if you convert that into a WordPress site, it might even be a more valuable property going forward. But, I really think that this could be hot in the upcoming months, especially with the holiday’s.

Justin:                   Yeah, that’s a good point regarding Christmas. I got to tell you man, this is something, this is a niche that I’m particularly, I’ve kind of geeked out on a bit. I’ve been watching a bunch of videos, and if I wasn’t traveling I think … And, if I was stable in a place, I’d want to buy one of those drones man. Those things are absolutely awesome. I think it’s a growing niche, so I think that there’s a lot of opportunity int he coming years. Tell me a little bit about porting it to WordPress. ‘Cause, that was a buyer, that would be concerning for me. I don’t think I’d be able to do that.

I remember someone offering a service for about 1,000 bucks or something, porting a side over to WordPress. I’m sure you could do it on your own for cheaper. But, is that about right Joe? How many pages of content does this have, do you know?

Joe:                        Yeah, it doesn’t have that many pages of content, under 50 so it wouldn’t really be a huge deal to go ahead and put into WordPress. That said, it obviously would require a little bit of technical know how, so it’s not going to be as easy as just managing a WordPress site.

Justin:                   Right.

Joe:                        I think yeah, under $2,000. You could definitely port it over to WordPress no problem. You could find somebody on oDesk, or something similar like that to do that for you.

Justin:                   If you can find someone to do it for 1,000 bucks, which seems pretty reasonable. We’re talking five percent of the sales price, so this is a listing that you’re interested in, and you do want a WordPress site like me, you can buy this. With not being WordPress, you might want to bake that into your estimates in terms of whether you think this is in your price range or not. Anyway, really interesting niche. It’s just about a year old, so it’s not very old. But, I think there’s a lot of opportunity here.

Joe:                        Yeah, like you said, I think the niche is really on the uptick. If you look at Google Trends, definitely increasing. I just want to say in closing that, you don’t have to port this to WordPress, you can leave it as static HTML pages. As long as you knew how to add new content every month or so, I think that would be fine, especially in the beginning.

Justin:                   Cool buddy. All right, well let’s dig into the heart of this week’s episode.

Speaker 2:           Now for the heart of this week’s episode.

Justin:                   All right Joe, we’re talking about how to retain employees in startups. This is specifically a conversation for Founders, and this is something that Founders run into a lot, especially if they’re talking a lot about entrepreneurship, or they’re very transparent, or public with kind of where their company is going, and what they’re all about, is they have to get over the hurdle of look hey, you should be your own boss, you should be an entrepreneur, you should get out there and do your own thing. Oh wait, but I want you to come work for me, right? I want you to help me build my business. You guys just help me build my business, everyone else should go start your own company. It’s an awkward position to be in, and I thought it’d be fun to kind of tackle some of those issue today.

Joe:                        Yeah, I would agree. I would just say furthermore that, there are a lot of people out there that, given the best entrepreneurial advice, still just want to be employees. Some people it’s just going to be in their nature to be more of a follower than a leader kind of thing.

Justin:                   Yeah, I think that comes with some … At least in my head, I don’t know about our listeners. But, it comes to some negative connativity when you say that. Some people, I mean we need to have our trash men, right? We need to have our employees, right? Some people just need to be that low level job. I think that’s unfair, right? I think that saying, “Oh, they’re just an employee,” right? It brings about a negative connotation that isn’t needed. Derek Severs has a great video, I’ve linked to it a bunch of times, it’s about the first follower and how it’s possible that the first follower is more important to the movement than the actual person leading it. You know, talking about someone that can get other people involved, and get them excited about being a part of the company. That’s your first employee, or one of the first people on your team. I think that’s actually pretty critical, and getting the right people to believe in something bigger than themselves is important.

It’s also timing. I mean, there was a time where you and I had our mortgage business, and it failed, right? We were entrepreneurial, but at that point we needed to not be, right? We needed to go work for a company. It wasn’t this weak position, it was like we needed to back down from kind of our lofty goals, and not really knowing what we’re doing, and kind of get back into something that we were comfortable with, a role we were comfortable with. I think that was a good move for us at the time.

All right, so we’re actually going to cover this by talking about a bunch of different issues. We’re going to kind of mention the challenge that you see with that as a Founder. We’re going to talk about what they’re actually saying, and then we’re going to give some of the solutions that we’ve come up with for this. This isn’t a, we’ve been through this so many times, we’ve got this all figured out, kind of episode. We simply don’t, so we’re going to be working through these issues, and talking about them.

I should mention that one of the reasons for this episode, I was looking back, and remember this Joe? But, about a year ago we were in Bangkok. We just finished the second DC Bangkok event. I was talking to Alistair, who used to work for Dan and Ian over at Tropical MBA. Over a couple of beers I mentioned to them. I said, “Is it weird for you to be at this entrepreneurial event, meet all these people that got their own business going, and be working in a company?” Right? “Be an employee for this company.” Now, he was one of their top guys for sure, and had a lot of responsibilities there. But I said, “Is that odd?” He said, “Well, you know it is a bit.” We kind of discussed, and he gave me some of his reasoning for why it was worth it.

Anyway, it turns out that he ends up leaving, so he leaves their company afterwards. I felt bad about that, but it is kind of a struggle. I think the Tropical MBA guys have this problem. I think we have this problem, and there are others out there as well. Which, is why I think this is an important issue for us to look at and discuss.

The first issue I think that comes up is, I should be building my own business, right? I shouldn’t be working inside of your business, I should be building something for myself for long term. The challenge for us as Founders is that, I think that they’re right. I think that they, at some point, especially if they feel that way, probably should be building their own business. Because, we believe in the value of building your own business too. What they’re really saying I think though when they’re saying, “I should be building my own business,” is that, “I want to make an impact. I want to have long term value for myself. I want to put the work in, to where six months from now, 12 months from now, two years from now, I can reap those benefits.”

Joe:                        Yeah, I don’t think they’re all, but yeah, I definitely see what you’re saying. It’s definitely, it’s conflicting sort of information to be able to say, “Hey, you should go out and do this on your own.” Then, when they are ready to do that say, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, you’re not ready yet.” Definitely when someone thinks they’re ready, they should start preparing. But, they shouldn’t just flip the switch.

Justin:                   I still think that the idea of I should be building my own business, there seems to be like the darling of entrepreneurship, right? Everyone says, “Oh, you should … Everyone can start a company, it’s so easy now. Everyone should do it.” And so, I think some younger people, and some people our age too are thinking, “Oh, I should go be an entrepreneur.” But, they don’t actually have a problem to solve. They’re in love with the idea of being an entrepreneur ’cause it sounds sexy, right? And so like, what do you want to do as an entrepreneur? What problem are you looking to solve, what value are you looking to add to a market? They’re like, “I don’t know, I just know that I want to go build something,” right? “I want to go do something.”

That’s cool, but if you don’t have a direction, if you don’t have an actual problem to solve, I’m not sure … Like, don’t fall in love with the idea of being an entrepreneur, actually go do it. I think that’s the key point here.

Joe:                        Yeah. Don’t make it a status thing, right? Make it more of an actual kind of, you’re trying to accomplish something.

Justin:                   Here’s what we think when a Founder hears, “I should be building my own business.” Here are some of the answers I think, or solutions I found that I could come up with. The first one being, you can give an employee a new venture inside of your business. Give them something they can sink their teeth into that’s a new program, or process, or it’s something new. Normally we recommend that these are things that the Founders, especially in an early stage company, should be working on themselves, especially when they’re new. But, if there is an initiative that you think that your employee has the right aptitude for, and is interested in, then maybe consider handing that off to them and letting them prove themselves on this new venture.

Joe:                        Yeah, no, I agree. I love that, especially if they’re taking the initiative to start that from scratch, and make that their own, and then they get rewarded on the success of that particular new venture.

Justin:                   Yeah, if your employee is starting this new venture from scratch and they are kind of building this up, it makes sense to me to give them equity in that piece of that business or new venture, or to even potentially do like a profit shared deal. They’re the ones that are building it up from scratch, you’re giving them some runway, or you’re giving them an opportunity to kind of spread their wings there. Why not give them a piece of that business?

I think when you gave up equity or profit share, it’s good to remember that you don’t have to do it for the entire company. You can do it for side companies or projects as well. Ultimately if it has enough meat to it, that could be a separate business within your business itself. At some point, maybe you could set up a corporation for it, you could go through that, and actually give them full on equity. But, when you’re just starting out tell them, “Look, you can get a piece of this.” Either give them profit share, or go into it with the idea that it can eventually become its own company.

Joe:                        Yeah, I think as long as you have a clear plan for them to meet their obligations in their current position, or at least transfer those to another employee. Then, supporting them in their other venture might be a great way to keep them longer term.

Justin:                   Let’s say that your employee actually has a problem that they want to solve and they say, “Look, I’ve explored this, I’ve tested through it, I think there’s real opportunity here.” Right? Maybe you’re onboard with it. Maybe you say, “Yes, I believe there’s an opportunity here, I’d like to explore it as well.” That’s an opportunity I think for you as a Founder to fund or support that employee to start their own company, get them started in solving a problem, and then you can either own a piece of theirs, or you can at least give them mentorship, and give them contacts that can help them take off.

Hopefully it’s in a supportive role to your main company, so that you guys can work together as you build it out. I think there’s nothing … As entrepreneurs, we have to be okay with that. When an employee finds a problem they want to solve, they’ve explored it, it looks like a good opportunity. Whether we agree with it or not, but that niche. But, if it is a niche that we agree with, then we absolutely have to be cool supporting them, and basically I think helping them kind of get their, spread their wings and get started on that new venture.

That second issue we want to talk about is, issue of I don’t have enough autonomy, right? The challenge for us here is that, we have an employee that feels a little stifled, they feel like you are not giving them enough rope, right? You’re not giving them enough room to kind of grow and expand. Well, the problem is there have to be some limitations or controls in place. I feel for this situation, where you’re in a position where you want to kind of help … You wish these Founders would just get out of your way, right? I think from the employee’s perspective, “Can you just get out of my way? Why do you have all these rules in place that are kind of limiting me?” They feel a bit limited or stifled by you. But, I think what they’re really saying though is that, they want to spread their wings. They’re feeling stifled by you, they want to explore and see if there’s more they can do, and if they can take on a bigger piece of what they’re doing.

Joe:                        Yeah, I would say it’s important that they have to earn this, right? They have to earn the ability to spread their wings. They have to show that they can work within the confines of the rules and the processes that we’ve set up, and that they’ve proven themselves there before we start giving them free rein.

Justin:                   Yeah, one of the things you can do as a Founder too is, you can review their tasks or controls. Like, can you actually loosen the reigns? Are they too tight, right? Because, if they are too tight and they are stifling the employee, that’s hurting your company. It’s not just, first … I guess the first question you should ask is, are they right? Right? Are the reigns too tight, or did you put controls in place that are no longer needed or necessary?

The other thing you can do is, you can have these employees own projects. Instead of have them be a piece of it, it’s like a resume, or like a LinkedIn. I helped be a part of the blah, blah, blah program. Well, that’s not very helpful. On your resume you want ownership, right? I ran this, I took the reigns on this, and took charge of it, and owned it. There might be value with your employee with giving them ownership on this project. So saying, “Look, you own this. The buck stops with you,” that kind of thing.

Joe:                        Yeah, I love that idea. Definitely giving people ownership of stuff, and see their success in general, and specifically is a great way to see how they’re going to succeed in the future.

Justin:                   Or failure too, right? If they fail miserably saying, “Look, that’s one of the reasons that we have the kind of controls in place, is because we want to kind of guide you to the point where you have more free rein.” Right? “If we just throw you off the deep end, you might end up in a position where you’re not set up for success.” I think that’s important for Founders and employees to understand why those rules are in place. I think sitting down and explaining it to them helps.

The other thing is too, it may just be possible that the Founders or entrepreneurs just need to learn how to let go. It’s difficult, and Joe I’m going to call you out here a little bit. I know that you have a bit of a problem with this, like letting go of the reigns and letting someone else run with the show. To be fair and honest, I have a bit of a problem with it too. I can be difficult with that, in terms of letting someone just take over. It comes from a fear of someone not doing it as well as you can, or there’s a bunch of things. But, you’re constantly having to replace yourself as an entrepreneur. I think we’re, you and I are both working at that, and trying to get better.

Joe:                        Yeah. I mean, I think that the real reason why I have a fear of it is ’cause I’ve seen people mess it up before, and it dramatically affect our business. I don’t want that to happen again, and that’s why I have to be very sure before I give the reigns up that, it’s going to be … If it’s not as good as I would have done it, then that’s fine. But, it’s got to be 80%. Sometimes it’s 120% which is awesome, but it’s got to be within the reigns, right?

Justin:                   Isn’t that a situation though where like you’ve seen it happen before, where someone screws it up. So, you’re punishing the new person for things you’ve seen other people do in the past.

Joe:                        Sure, but I can only pull on my past experiences for possible future circumstances. Yeah, you’re right.

Justin:                   It sucks. We don’t want to be the kind of guys that are punishing people for things they haven’t even done, that we’ve seen done in the past. It’s a dangerous position, but I know where you’re coming from because when you have the experience of being burned by someone you’re like, “Oh, I want to make sure that doesn’t happen again.” It’s tough though, it’s tough trying to balance not putting so many controls around people that they feel stifled.

The third issue, and you’ll see this from employees where, they get to the point where they’re just not passionate about what they’re doing, right? They come to you and they say, “Look, I don’t love it. I’m not loving kind of where this is going, and what I’m working on.” The problem or the challenge here as a Founder or entrepreneur, it’s like join the club buddy, right? I mean, Joe, are you passionate about every single thing you do every single day of the week? Absolutely not.

Joe:                        Yeah, I mean this one hits very much home for me because I’ve had plenty of jobs where you don’t feel passionate about it, or even I don’t feel challenged, which I think is what they’re really saying, right? But, it’s something that you have to roll with, and be able to push through because you’re going to have that in your own business. If you want to go out there and create your own business, and be your own boss, there’s going to be plenty of pieces of the business that you’re not passionate about. Learning how to deal with that as an employee I think is very important.

Justin:                   Absolutely. What worries me when an employee says they’re not passionate about what they’re doing, is their work going to go half assed, right? Are they going to start donkeying stuff up, and just not really carrying about what they’re doing? It makes me, you talk about in point two or whatever, not enough autonomy. It makes me want to put more controls in place to check their work. When I hear, “I’m not passionate about it.” Okay, well I better start checking up on what they’re doing, and making sure they’re not dropping the ball. Because, that’s what tends to happen. Again, I’m talking about experience here, but that’s what tends to happen with someone who says, “I’m not passionate,” or isn’t feeling challenged.

Some of the solutions we came up with for the I’m not passionate issue is, can you shift responsibilities around? There are going to be some things that you have to do that are just boring, that are repetitive, that just as an employee, or a Founder, or an entrepreneur, you’re just going to have to do it. Someone’s going to have to do it, and a lot of times that’s you. But, can you shift that around? Has it been long enough? Has it been six months, or a year, or five years of this person doing something that’s monotonous where they just, they don’t really need to do it anymore, you can shift that around and give them something new? Maybe it’s not anymore exciting to them, but just the fact that it’s new would be a nice change of pace.

The other thing I think you need to look at is, is your employee working on something that’s very boring or monotonous, that’s no longer necessary? Businesses, especially startups and entrepreneurial ventures, change fairly rapidly. You can change direction, you can change kind of what your focus is. Sometimes things get left behind, or maybe your employees, or your VA’s are working on things that are no longer critical to your business, and you don’t even know that they’re working on them. You don’t even know this is something that’s still a task of theirs. When you find out you go, “Oh my God. No, no, no, we don’t need to do that.” This boring monotonous work they may be doing may have been wasted for the last three or six months because you don’t even need it anymore.

Joe:                        Yeah, definitely. I think that, that’s something that should always be analyzed in your business. If it’s something that you can switch and take out of their daily responsibilities, weekly responsibilities, especially if they hate doing it. Then, that’s something, that’ll be good for them and for the company.

Justin:                   The other thing is, we hire, Joe. We hire for fairly specific roles, so we have an idea of what we want that person to be doing when they join the organization. But, each individual person is not always tied to that role. Once they’re in the club, right? Once they’re on our team, we start to let them explore kind of personal interests, right? Inside of our organization. Whatever role they have, that may actually switch a bit over time. I know that this isn’t the way that a lot of people do it. They’ll hire for role, and that person needs to fill the role. Now, maybe they can take on a different role in the business, but they then need to fill that role. Again, that’s now how we operate. We’ll bring someone in for a particular role, and let them kind of grow or expand in a way, and allow for personal development inside of our organization that suits their interest.

Joe:                        Yeah, I mean I think that’s one of the good things we’ve definitely learned about doing business, and managing people over the past five or six years. It’s something we’re getting better at.

Justin:                   The fourth issue I want to talk about is, the question of, or the issue of, “I’m not paid what I’m worth,” right? You have an employee whose looking at their paycheck, looking at other people in the industry, and just saying, “Hey, I don’t feel like I’m getting full value.” The challenge is as entrepreneurs, or startup Founders is, they’re probably right. When you’re just starting off, you probably don’t have the cash to pay them what they’re totally worth, and they might actually be worth more to you even if you can’t afford it. The other thing to consider is that, the work they’re doing now may be worth considerably more in the future. The work they’re doing today, six months, 12 months, 18 months down the road, may be worth a lot more. It’s just not worth it today.

So, you in the startup, can’t pay them today what they’re worth. You might be able to pay them down the road, but that’s not kind of … That’s not exactly what they’re looking for. That’s why a lot of Founders are, you know, kick the can down the road. Let me keep you in with equity, or let me promise this or that down the road, it’s because they don’t have the cash to pay you now what you’re worth.

Joe:                        Right. Yeah, and I think that this used to happen a lot more. But, we went through a few years of a very bad economy, and I think the job market has enabled employers to have employees accept a lot less. I remember when I was first starting out in the corporate world, people were always looking for the next raise every three months, six months, nine months. I wonder how much of that is happening now as we’re starting to come out of this kind of bad economy, but.

Justin:                   You know, I think when people say they’re not paid what they’re worth, their real message to you is that they’re feeling under valued, right? It may not even be a monetary thing, it may just be that they don’t feel that they’re appreciated, right? They don’t feel like they’re appreciated within their organization, they don’t feel like they’re getting enough recognition for the things they’re doing. One of our solutions to this, and this sounds fairly counterintuitive. But, you can give that employee or that team member more, and more important responsibilities. It sounds odd. You’re like, “Hey, I’m not worth … I don’t think I’m getting paid what I’m worth.” “Okay here, take on more responsibilities, and higher level responsibilities.” It’s like, “Whoa, how does that work?”

But, I think if you sit down with them and explain to them, “Look, I want you to be worth more to the company as well. You’re not working on tasks that are quite as valuable as these. I think if we shift your responsibilities to these higher value tasks, you’re going to be worth more to the company, and there’s more we can do for you.”

Joe:                        Yeah, I love that approach. That’s a great approach because you definitely can start to define their role more in a higher income bracket sort of profession. If you give them these responsibilities of someone that’s higher up the pay rate than they are right now, then it becomes easier to pay them more money.

Justin:                   Yeah, and I also think that it’s a way for them to feel more valued, because they are more valued. And, not actually pay them more money. You’re solving the problem of feeling under valued, without coming out of pocket with more cash. The other thing you can do is, you can move your employee to a position that’s more directly tied to revenue or profit, and offer some sort of profit share, or see a direct ROI on the work that they’re doing. This is way more difficult I think for operational staff. We have this problem, Joe, where especially for your team, when we were working for the local SEO company. Where, it was really hard to tie an employee to profit, right?

My mentor helped guide me through the process of doing that with customer service, like envisioning a customer service that’s a profit center, and not a cost center. But, it’s particularly difficult when you’re dealing with, let’s say a bookkeeper, or something, right? Or, someone that just, they just do the work. You’re a video guy, that are just putting videos up, right? They’re not actually bringing in cash, they’re just provisioning the work.

Joe:                        Yeah, it’s definitely harder, but unfortunately it does need to be done in some instances, ’cause otherwise the person’s just going to find another job that pays more money. You don’t want to lose that person, either internally to another department, or to another company potentially. As a Founder I think that could be disastrous, especially for someone who wears many hats operationally or in your company. Be careful of that.

Justin:                   As a Founder though, we don’t care because we don’t have different departments, right? You and I are responsible for Empire Flippers as a whole. If someone is reviewing them as a cost center, right? All they’re doing is costing us money, all they’re doing is kind of the work. We can look at … They’re saying, “Look, I want to get paid more. I don’t feel like I’m paid what I’m worth.” We can look at tying them to an area that’s more directly tied to revenue and profit. Can you bring in customers, right? Can you bring in new sellers? How many new sellers can you bring in a month, how many buyers can you bring in a month? That’s really easy to determine whether or not they’re able to make us money in that role.

Now, they’re putting themselves at risk, right? They’re putting themselves at risk because if they go into that and we realize we’re not getting an ROI on that work, that’s not good for them staying inside our company. But, if it’s that important to them, I think that’s a role they can be transitioned to, and it’s put up or shut up time, right?

The last part I’ll make about this is that, if they brought this to your attention, it’s likely that additional pay at this point won’t help. Their problem with being under valued, I think is deeper than the money. You may be able to keep them around for a while by throwing more money at the problem, but that’s not a guarantee to keep them around. But, I think it is worth looking at how true it is, right? So, how marketable are their skills, how valuable are they to another market, would someone else … Could they step into another role for someone else’s organization, will they get paid, immediately get paid more? I think that’s worth looking at. You have to look at whether you can afford to pay them more for what they’re providing. Are they providing you a service, or something that’s valuable enough for you to put more money in? Are they so right that they could go out and immediately get a job that pays more money, and can you afford to give it to them? That’s worth looking at.

Joe:                        Yeah. I would agree, and I think that it’s something that you just really have to evaluate. But, just shoving more money at them initially is not the best way to approach the problem.

Justin:                   The fifth issue we want to look at is when your employee comes to you and says, “Look, I’ve learned all I can here. I really think I need to go somewhere new.” Right? I understand this one. You feel like you’re getting in a position to where I’ve learned everything new, I’ve learned everything I can about this business, I’ve done my 80/20, right? I’ve got the biggest gains, I think I need to move on to somewhere else. The challenge as a Founder or entrepreneur is, this loss of focus by your employee can be dangerous to our business, right? This person is not feeling challenged anymore, right? That’s really what they’re saying is just, “I don’t feel challenged with my position, I don’t feel like I’m growing as a future entrepreneur. I’m just not getting anything out of this anymore.”

Joe:                        Yeah, I think this is the worst one of the five that we’ve talked about today. This one can have the most serious impact on the employee because if you can’t find something else for them to grow within your organization, then really it’s going to be time to part ways.

Justin:                   One of the ways I think you can solve this is, the learn by doing approach, right? We talked about this earlier, but by giving them a new initiative or project that they can work on. Something that’s new, something that will require them to learn new skills, and challenge themselves inside of this project. I think there’s an opportunity for them to start to feel challenged again, start to get back to that, “Ooh, I’m in startup mode. I need to get this kind of figured out, and there’s a lot of things that I don’t know, and that my boss doesn’t know. I better get on this.” I think helps them kind of realize that there are new things to learn.

There’s another question of, are they feeling left out, right? Are they feeling kind of left out of the organization, are they just a cog in the wheel? ‘Cause, that sounds really horrible to me. If anyone that works for me feels like just a cog in the wheel, that … I feel like I really haven’t done my job. But, one of the things you can do in that situation I think is really bring them in to the inner circle, right? That’s something that you and I do, Joe, regularly is we have these strategy sessions, and we … You know, our guys have a seat at the table. If you’re not doing that for your team, that’s one of the ways I think you can solve that you know, I’ve learned all I can, I need to go somewhere else problem.

Joe:                        Yeah. I think it can be a very emotional thing, so that’s why making sure you approach this kind of feeling left out process in a unique sort of fashion, and bringing them closer. That’s really the best way to solve that.

Justin:                   I think a good approach to that too is like, I need your help, right? Or, we need your help. Here’s the problem, here are the kind of … And, be honest with them. Don’t give them some like platitude bullshit problem you made up. Talk about some serious business problems that you’re having, and invite them to the table, right? Invite them to the meeting where these things are discussed openly and honestly. I think that’s the kind of thing where they go, “Oh, okay. Now I’m starting to really see the real deal. Now I feel included and involved.”

Another thing you can do aside from just learning by doing, is have them mentor another employee or VA, right? Because, you can learn by teaching as well. If you … They’ve done this thing that they’ve done, they’ve learned all they can there. Is there any way that you can have them start teaching this to someone else? If they leave you, you’re going to need to turn that over anyway, so you’re going to use the skill transfer process to someone else. So, is there any more value in them teaching someone else, or mentoring another employee, or virtual assistant in your company to make them feel more valued, and to make them feel challenged?

Joe:                        Yeah, I love the mentor thing because that, a lot of people are going to love that. Hey, I always say this, you learn by teaching, and going ahead and mentoring other employees to make them a better employee for you.

Justin:                   All right buddy, enough about this episode. Let’s get into our news and updates.

Speaker 2:           You’ve been listening to the Empire Podcast. Now, some news and updates.

Justin:                   All right, so our first bit of news, Joe, is our valuation tool is finally live and open to the public. You can check it out, EmpireFlippers.com/Valuation-Tool, and we’ll put a link to that in the show notes. I’m really happy we got this one out man.

Joe:                        Yeah, I’m very happy about it too. It sounds like we’re getting some good feedback from people. I even talked to someone that I met here in Manila whose going to be running some of his old purchases back through it, and he’ll get back to us with some feedback. So, even people who have bought before, check it out, let us know what kind of valuation you’re getting.

Justin:                   It’s really frustrating. We were looking at some of the other tools that are out there, and I don’t know who created these, but it basically just … You put your information in, it pulls like third party data and makes all these crazy, random estimates based on what it thinks that you’re earning, and what it thinks the kind of traffic is, and what it thinks the traffic’s worth. We were like, look, I mean we do this on a regular basis. We’re always valuing sites. Isn’t there a way for us to just create this tool, and have something better out there than the crap that’s out there?

We thought this was a problem that we could definitely solve. The reasoning is pretty clear. I mean, if we can get people to submit their information, and take a look at what their site’s worth, that’s an opportunity for us to talk to them about selling their site. If they’re interested in how much their site’s worth, they may also be interested in selling the site, and so it’s an opportunity for us to have that conversation. It’s definitely lead gen for us, but I think it’s a really valuable tool that wasn’t out there at all.

The second thing buddy, you’re coming out man. You’re coming out to the [Hoch 00:34:33], Ho Chi Minh.

Joe:                        Yeah.

Justin:                   You’ll be here by the time this episode is published.

Joe:                        Yes, I will be. My flight leaves in about eight hours. I am excited, I am packed, I am ready to go. I’m bringing Mike with me.

Justin:                   Yeah man, you guys will be here for Thanksgiving. That’s the other thing, we wanted to wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving, all of our American listeners. We’ll be celebrating here in Ho Chi Minh. I think there’s a whole shindig man. We’re going to do some turkey, we’re going to do some stuffing and gravy, some mashed potatoes and gravy. We’re going to have it lined up, man. We got probably 30 [inaudible 00:35:05] or so that are going to be hooking it up.

Joe:                        Yeah, I’m looking forward to that. Turkey and stuffing is like my favorite meal, so I am ready.

Justin:                   Yeah buddy, let’s move into some listener shouts. We’ve got an iTunes review, five stars. “A must listen for anyone interested in buying a website.” That’s from El Rey Luminoso in the US, said, “I love the insight and information you guys provide on the podcast. Now you’ve outdone yourselves with the new website valuation tool, buyer profiles, and new emails that outline what potential websites buyers should look for, and the types of questions they should ask. Kudos as well to your support team, interacted with them several times. Not only are they top-notch, but quick to respond. Keep up the great work, appreciate it.” El Rey, thank you so much for the review, the five star review on iTunes. We really appreciate it.

Got a couple of mentions on Twitter. Joe Kyle on November 21st said, “Hey Empire Flippers, you once mentioned declaring email bankruptcy from too many subscriptions. Check this out,” and he sent me a link to Unroll.ME. This is a great service where you can go to, and it will unsubscribe you from all the crazy subscriptions that you’ve subscribed to over the months or years. I’d forgotten about this tool. I used it before, and forgotten about it. I actually went back and used this. Thanks Kyle, for the shout on that. I was able to unsubscribe from like 130 different subscriptions. With all the travel hacking stuff, I’ve signed up for a crazy amount of subscriptions. Because of that, I want to make sure I was involved and I was like, “Oh my God, I’m getting overwhelmed.”

Joe:                        Yeah, I’ve actually used that before. I think we mentioned it as one of our tips and tricks way back in the day. Yeah, good service.

Justin:                   We’ve got another Twitter mention. “Hey Empire Flippers, what quality resources would you recommend for people looking to build niche sites? Considering lifestyle, affiliate at the moment.” I don’t have any knowledge about lifestyle, affiliate. I can tell you a couple that I’d be interested in. If I was looking at the drop shipping, or the physical eCommerce product type plans, I would really look at Drop Ship Lifestyle from Antoine. I think that’s a great, no bullshit approach to building niche drop shipping sites where you’re selling physical products, having them shipped to people. I think it’s a great, great way to kind of get started.

I think that the next level from that, once you graduate from kind of the starters, would be looking at someone like Andrew Youderian over at eCommerce Fuel. I think, he runs a community for established eCommerce professionals. I think that’s kind of the next level in the eCommerce space. For just starting off with like niche AdSense sites, or Amazon sites. Again, I’d look over at Spencer at Niche Pursuits. He’s doing some really interesting stuff. He just did a write up where he bought a website, a Pinterest traffic site, and then sold it with us. He actually goes through exactly how much he earned, how he flipped a site, how much money he made, an estimate on his per hour earnings on doing that. I’ll link to that in the show notes if you’re interested in checking it out.

We’ve got Nathan, said, “Epic 404 page from the guys at Empire Flippers. Laugh out loud, best 404 page I’ve seen in a while.” If you haven’t seen that we threw in a funny little Easter egg. You can check it out by going to EmpireFlippers.com/Anything. It’ll show you our funky 404 page. Thanks for pointing that out Nathan, appreciate it.

Joe:                        Yeah, appreciate it Nathan.

Justin:                   Over in ZenDesk we’ve got a couple of tickets. We actually had a Joseph rated good, I’m satisfied. Said, “Everyone is excellent and on their A game. Thanks again from Joe.” We had another good and satisfied comment from Adam, said, “Customer service started out slow and I initially gave an unsatisfactory rating due to a two day lapse of communication. But, other than that service was excellent.” Yeah, Adam was a depositor, it turns out … Or, ended up being a buyer. There was like a two day slip between communications with our team. They did finally get back to him, and get him up to speed so I’m glad we were able to get that small problem corrected.

That’s it for episode 118 of the Empire Podcast. Thanks for sticking with us. We’ll be back next week with another show. You can find the show notes for this episode and more at EmpireFlippers.com/Retention, and make sure to follow us up on Twitter @EmpireFlippers. See you next week.

Joe:                        Bye, bye everybody.

Speaker 2:           Hope you enjoyed this episode of the Empire Podcast, with Justin and Joe. Hit up EmpireFlippers.com for more. That’s EmpireFlippers.com. Thanks for listening.


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