A startup is a rapidly evolving organism. Things change, and, if everything is going well, grow so quickly a year feels like a decade. For many entrepreneurs, these early adrenaline-fueled days can be a messy period of trial and error. Which is ok! Learning by doing isn’t a bad strategy.
That said, it’s helpful to learn from other founders who have gone through the same process, particularly when it comes to hiring. Identifying the roles you need to create and the people you need to fill them determines what your business can—and will—become.
In the first of a 3-part series, we hear from a yoga entrepreneur on hiring for a brand new studio.
Name: Jessica Rosen
Business: One Dog Down, a yoga studio with two (soon to be three) locations in Los Angeles
Founded in: 2013
Number of employees: Managerial team 5; Front desk staff 7; Yoga instructors 32.
Like so many LA residents, Jessica Rosen is a transplant. She moved to the city in 2005 from Michigan to run a branch of a yoga studio in Studio City, before doing stints as a highschool teacher and substance abuse counselor. Eight years in, she still felt rootless. “I was looking for a community, and wasn’t finding what I was looking for,” she says. Thirty days before she turned 30, she decided to open her own studio.
She rented a shared space, and, well, that was the beginning of what has been a wild ride. “I had no money, I never owned a business, had no business background and…it took off.” She quickly outgrew the shared space, and opened her own studio.
In the very beginning, she hired instructors she found on Craigslist and from Facebook postings. As the studio grew, Rosen began relying on its growing network to recruit new instructors and full-time staffers. Once someone joined the company, they were encouraged to try out new roles. Her general manager was originally hired to help paint the studio. “We’ve had teachers step into more administrative roles and vice versa,” she says. “People who started off at the front desk have gone on to teach.”
In the first few years, positions were fluid and communication organic. But as the company grew, things started to fall the cracks. With two locations and a third slated to open shortly, Rosen has taken a concerted effort to formalize operations so items on the to-do list don’t languish for weeks because “we’re all working on the same thing.”
In order to create clearly defined roles within the company, Rosen started by having employees email her their current job description, as well as what they’d like their job description to be. These responses didn’t always align with how she’d viewed the position, which was good information to have. Next, she sat down with her studio manager to figure out the roles they already had covered, the roles they still needed to assign, and how to divide up these remaining tasks among the current staff, taking into consideration their stated preferences.
If this makes it sound neat and tidy—it wasn’t and it isn’t. “This is a work in progress,” she says.
Delegating is difficult: in the short-term, it takes more time to teach someone a task than it does to simply do it yourself. But as you grow, it becomes increasingly necessary—at a certain point, you physically can’t do everything. To avoid burnout, sit down and formalize employees’ positions so you’re clear on who is doing what.