Productivity Academy Live Q&A – Episode 45


Join us live each week at and get your questions answered by submitting them at anytime right here: You can watch the video for the past episode recorded on July 26th, above, or you can review the transcript below.

In this episode we talked about:

  • How and when should I make the first 1 or 2 hires in my business? What should I do before to help ensure that it goes smoothly and I get the most benefit from hiring?
  • What is the best task management tool or combination of tools for someone at an early-stage startup who has to do basically everything?
  • What are the best productivity techniques or tools/frameworks?

To find recommended tools and other great resources, check out the Productivity Academy Resource Toolkit:

Hello, and welcome to the Productivity Academy live Q&A. Today is the 26th of July and this is the 45th live Q&A. Just getting back, took a week off to do some traveling and kind of recharge the batteries, which was really nice, and I’ll talk a little bit more about that.

But today, what we’re going to be talking about is a little bit about hiring, making those first one or two important hires. I know a lot of people, especially entrepreneurs, you start working, maybe you’re trying to build a marketing agency, you’re trying to build a SAS product, whatever you’re doing, you usually start out alone or maybe you have a partner, or maybe even two. But then you start moving to that situation where, okay, I’ve maybe made one hire but I want to go that next step, and I need to make a more important, or larger hire or two, to start putting a team together, and what do I do? We’re going to talk about that a little bit.

Then also, what’s the best task management tools or the combination for an early stage startup for somebody who has to do basically everything? So kind of taking that idea of being a one or two man shop, and then what should you start with, or what framework? Speaking of framework, what’s the best kind of productivity techniques or the tools and frameworks that you want to use? I’ve got a really good answer, I think, for that.

Real quick though, if you haven’t joined yet and you’re watching this on YouTube, but check out down below, you can always come and join the free Facebook group. Just answer a few questions I have set up, I want to make sure you actually want to be here and you’re interested in productivity, time management, all that good stuff.

Otherwise, feel free to watch wherever you want. If you ever have questions, you could leave a comment. If you want to watch and ask questions live, of course you can come join the Facebook group and just ask and I’ll kind of … If you ever see me glancing off the page, I’m looking at questions during the live Q&A.

All right, let’s get into it. The first question I was talking about was hiring, and this was an interesting one. It came up with someone I was talking to and this has been really important to myself, and I know a lot of other people. When you start to either grow a business or you’ve reached that point where no longer yourself … You know, you’re starting to realize, man, I’m getting stressed out, or I’ve got the revenue also to support it. There’s a lot of reasons why you might want to start making that first important hire. Again, that one, two, three, where you’re kind of starting to maybe think like, oh yeah, a team would be a good thing.

Of course, I do believe in the one … The one thing you should have, there should be a pain point. You shouldn’t just be hiring because, hey, I heard that to build a business, you need to hire people, that’s not how that works. If you’ve got the revenue to support it and you’ve got a pain point, something that person can take and do, whether it’s, hey … Hopefully, one of the greatest ways you can do this is, this person can take something that immediately pays for themselves, that’s great, but also it could be to take away a pain point from you, so that you can spend more time doing things that bring in the revenue to the business.

But without getting into actually making those hires, let’s talk some more about what you should do before that point. I said, my little notes here I wrote for myself were, the big question is why? And you need to understand why you’re making this, and that’s basically what I just talked about. You want to make sure you’re not doing it just because it’s what you heard, or in a book about building a business it talked about building a team.

If you can’t support it, or you don’t have an actual pain point, don’t do it yet. You’re going to waste your time. Sure, you’ll learn something, you’ll learn more about managing, but at that point you just need to spend more time on your business. That could mean working in your business, and working to grow sales, do something to the point where, okay, you’re now busy enough, you need to offload some of that work.

Speaking of offloading, that is one of the things you want to look at before you hire that person, you don’t want to just get … Let’s say you’re busy, you’ve gotten to a point … Okay, I’m just going to make up some numbers. You’re bringing in $20,000 a month, but you’re working way too much, and you’re starting to get stressed out and you know you might start dropping and having some issues, and I’m just going to … Say you’re working with like five different clients and you’re a service provider. All right, maybe you’ve got a productized service, so you’re doing video editing for clients and you’re realizing this is important, I do really high-level work, it’s not a simple clip. I don’t just edit one person’s YouTube video real quickly. I’m doing some complicated stuff, how would this ever work?

Well, I would stop and say, what can you hand off, okay? Of course, video editing can be trained, but let’s say there’s other things. Maybe you’re doing a lot of back and forth with the clients, could you hire someone to do that? You do your edit, and you send it to them and they send back comments, things like that. Communication can take a lot of time.

Do you have to do invoicing, could somebody take care of that for you? Is there parts of the editing, is there stuff leading up to it? Are you making little creatives, are you making images? There’s all of this stuff that goes into whatever it is, I just came up with this off the top of my head.

But start writing that down, and then you could categorize it by what’s the stuff that I think I’m irreplaceable, what stuff do I know I immediately need to get this stuff off my plate and I could tell someone today how to do it, and then everything in between, okay? And you can figure it out. A lot of times you’ll think, wow, 90%, maybe 80%, 70% of this stuff I can’t hand off. The good news is, that’s not true. The bad news is, you probably don’t realize that yet. All right?

Then also something to realize is, you’re going to need to invest some time, okay? Generally, when you hire someone, you’re not going to immediately see that reduction. It depends exactly what you’re doing. This is a bit of a blanket statement, but if you’re, let’s say, going to a graphic design service, then that may end up immediately saving you time at the cost of, they’re generally going to be more expensive than bringing someone in house. That’s not a bad thing, that’s just a trade-off.

Let’s say you’re thinking, well, I want to hire a right-hand man who could learn to do a lot of the higher level stuff I do. I’m going to go interview some people and bring in a person to really learn what I do. Then it frees you up to do even more higher level stuff, grow the business, concentrate on sales, whatever it is. But that takes an investment of time on your part, so you’ve got to be careful that you’re realizing, as I bring this person up to speed and as I teach them things, that’s time in addition to what I’m already doing. So they probably need to be able to jump in and take care of some lower level stuff right away, and then work their way up as you train them.

Then that is the other thing I wanted to touch on real quick is, what kind of a person are you looking for? I think this is on purpose, this comes after looking at what you want to hand off. Are you looking for someone who you can give very specific instructions to and send them some part-time work, or are you looking to make that hire, where it’s this person needs to learn a lot of what I do so I can kind of replace myself and move up or out of the business and become truly the owner and work on sales and growth and things like that?

Generally, that’s not what you’re going to look for right off the bat, although you might want to look at something like a Project Manager where you’re going to, depending on where you are … I’ve had this discussion with someone in one of my Masterminds about that word, or the term Project Manager having different meanings throughout the world. I just mean that in terms of, maybe you have recurring projects, like you’re building a sales funnel for a client, or SEO services, these things that recur. Video editing, you’re making ads for people, things like these, these productized services, you could hire someone to do that, and maybe they’re not really learning everything you do, but they’re learning the fulfillment side of the business, and then managing perhaps contractors or third parties that you work with.

I’ll be actually coming out with a little bit more on that. If you’re interested, please let me know in the comments. I’m going to come out with a little bit of a cheat sheet for that. I had someone I was talking to, who said that that would be a really helpful thing to do. That they’ve got one part-time employee that does some odds and ends for him, but they’re realizing they need to have at least one or two more people, and they’re looking for potentially a part-time or a full-time person, but they really were just feeling scattered and they didn’t know where to start.

So I think that’s good because I did a quick look, and looking around you, you do a quick search for when do you make your first hires, or what should you do best to make your first one or two hires? And a lot of these search results I got were like, make sure you post placards for your state’s, rules on how to treat your employees. And I was like, okay, most people are not looking for that. That’s important information, especially if you have people working on-site, but people need to know how you do it and why you do it, and then go through the, okay, well here’s the legal details of doing it.

All right, so second topic today. What is the best task management tool, or combination of tools, for someone at an early stage startup who has to do basically everything? This is good. I’m going to stay away from too much detailed stuff, because it could depend on exactly what you’re doing. The temptation is to talk as if this was like a SAS business, and not being a programmer, I’m not going to get into that stuff. But I will a kind of track it from a project management or productivity standpoint, and I would say you probably, at least, want to have a grasp on two different types of systems that you can use. So one for yourself, and then one for teams.

Right off the bat, the tools I use, I would say something like Trello in combination with Todoist. That’s just because I add a lot of personal stuff to Todoist. You could also use both of those as the single thing. I prefer having kind of a separation, so that I use Todoist for quick tasks and just kind of a brain dump, and then I go through and clear that out on a regular basis. I also have some recurring things come through there to remind me, like hey, pay the affiliates, pay this, pay that, this email needs to be sent, things like that.

Then in Trello I have the more complicated, where you have actual workflows or people being reminded of tasks, and then that works a lot better too with more complicated teams. But again, you can do that in Todoist and you could also do the tasks in Trello. I think that that’s a pretty powerful one.

Then I will follow this up with saying that right now, when this was being recorded in July of 2018, AppSumo has the Briefcase, which is a crazy good deal. So I personally use it, I think it’s worth checking out. It is a paid service, but you get access to something like … I literally don’t know. I think it’s over 25 now, tools that there’s probably at least … I should just pull this up. Let me look real quick. Let’s see. AppSumo … Instead of making this up on the fly or trying to guess.

Okay, let’s see. Yeah, so it’s $1,000 plus per month of software, like if you went and signed up for each of these individually. Then I don’t see the number of them, but there’s probably … Here we go. Products link. Yeah, I don’t know, there’s just a ton. I’m not even going to go through all of them.

There’s things like Billy, there’s an accounting software, right? You can hook it up to your bank or PayPal and send out invoices that way. You’ve got paper form for taking surveys, it’s a really nice clean survey. You’ve got iSpionage, I don’t know how you pronounce this, but they use it for looking at what other people are advertising. You’ve got Beacon, you can use that for creating lead magnets. Other design stuff like Stencil for graphic design assets, for social media stuff. Man, there’s so much in here.

Anyways, so 49 bucks a month, and generally like that pays for itself. You’ve probably got to use maybe two of these to really make it pay for yourself, but I just mentioned a few that I personally use. I actually, every month, pay for Briefcase and it’s saving me a ton of money. They do keep adding to it, which is awesome.

One thing to note, they do take … or they don’t take out, but some businesses leave that, but when they leave it, it’s just no longer available to new people who join. If you have access to the Briefcase, and you have access to a product and you redeem it, because you have to go in, give them your little code and sign up, finish all that, once you’ve done that, you have that for lifetime. So they can leave Briefcase, but if you have already signed up through Briefcase, you’ll always retain access to that account, which I think is pretty cool. I think that that’s great, and that gives you a lot of flexibility as well.

Then the only thing that I would add to that is that, it’s up to you then to devise that framework, which I’m going to talk about next. Because tools are really important, but what are the best productivity techniques or tools and frameworks? If you’ve already got the tools, then you need to definitely have in place that framework, and for myself, the thing that I teach is the daily review, and you really need to do this. I think everyone can, you can get so much out of it.

If you don’t do this, or you’re not consistent, that’s your first step. It could start out with 5 or 10 minutes in the morning, and you might just sit down and say, okay, I’m going to gather everything I have digitally and physically that I need to look at, and that might be like Post-it Notes on your desk, or the random scraps of paper. I personally don’t do this, but you could go through your email, if that’s a necessary task for you. You could go through, if you use Evernote or Todoist or Trello, or any of those places where you might write down things or things might be added.

At the same time every day, you go through and collect all of that stuff, and you go through and you organize it, okay? I do this by batching, you kind of put the light tasks together. And this is up to you, do you do it by business? If you work on several different businesses or clients, you might need to organize by that. It could be by time of day, if there’s time sensitive things, but whatever you do, you can just batch them together.

Oh, the last one I will mention is like tasks. It might be different areas, but maybe you have three emails that need to get written, so you just those together. That’s another way of doing it.

Then prioritizing, all right? You move up literally the one most important thing to the top of your list, then the next, and so on and so forth. That way you knock it down. You don’t go to the second one until that first one’s done, or you’ve reached an impasse where perhaps you’re waiting for feedback and you literally can’t continue. That’s something that you can start doing in 5 or 10 minutes, that provides kind of the beginning of the framework.

Then I would also say that you probably want to expand that more realistically, to something like 15 to 30 minutes a day, and do it in the morning and set it at a time where you know you’re … Or just block out that time, whether you’re working at home, office, whatever it is. Then get in the habit of doing that even when you’re not working. This is something that can help you in your entire life. So not only that you are better at what work you’re doing, but that you’re in more control of your life. I just find it to be a way to stay on top of things, and to get more done that you want to do, instead of just kind of wandering around.

I do it on vacation and I don’t always do this detailed … I certainly don’t do a detailed run through, but I’ll grab, if I have a lot to do, my best self journal. If not, I’ll grab a Post-it Note, or literally whatever’s laying around, and I’ll just go through and do the hour blocks, and just be like, oh yeah, today … Oh, that’s right. You know, I’m on vacation, but I did say I would do these things, and I’m meeting with this person, and we’re going out to dinner here. So wow, okay. I’ve really only got like four or five hours of stuff to do. What do I really want to do?

Taking that time, it just ensures that I end up doing those things I want to do, instead of just feeling like I didn’t do what I wanted to, or that I missed out or anything. And if, you know what? You want to sit down at the beach or sip a Mai Tai for four or five hours, the more power to you, because I like doing that too. But I just like to be aware of the choices that I’m making.

Then as far as expanding this framework, so you’ve got that daily review, then you can then expand that. So at the beginning of the week, you could do a weekly review and be aware of all those things that are coming up. Then you could expand that into a monthly review, and you could expand that into a 90-day review projection. For each of these, having a little bit of review, is amazing. This is the step that a lot of people don’t take, and I think that this is kind of like rocket fuel for this entire process, is adding in some time to look back on it.

If nothing else, you could just do this like once a week and incorporate a larger time scale, and say, I’m not just focused on today, I’m just kind of thinking in general, what about all of this stuff I’m doing? Every day I’m doing a daily review, every week I’m doing a weekly review, all that. What’s working really well for me? Okay? Write that down, get it out of your head. Just think about it. What’s giving me the best results? Do I just feel better, am I less stressed? That’s a really good result. Am I being more productive? Is my business growing?

Then on the flip side, hey, what’s not working? And it could be something like, well, you know what? I’ve only done my daily review two days out of the last four, why is that? Well, because I slept in. Okay, why? Start asking yourself those questions, and adjust it so it fits and works for you. If you need to do it in the middle of the day, then make that happen.

It’s really about going through, doing this process, reviewing your process, and then just continuous improvement on that, and it starts to pay off very quickly.

So, if there’s no more questions, let me check. Nope. I think that is going to do it. Like I said at the beginning, if you’re watching this on YouTube, come join us in the Facebook group, you can find the link below. Happy to have you join there. By all means, if you ever have any questions, you can ask them live there or you can just leave a comment on the videos and I will check those out.

Thanks for watching and I’ll see you next week.

About the author

Adam Moody

I'm Adam Moody with the Productivity Academy. Get your productivity, time management, automation, and organization questions answered here. Be sure to check out the Productivity Academy YouTube Channel.

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