What comes first: wait for your agency to grow before hiring new staff, or hiring new staff to grow your agency?
Kathryn Strachan started Copy House in 2020, growing it to be a £1M+ agency with 25 staff. Drawing from her time as Founder and MD, we spoke to Kathryn last month to get her expert opinion on this very topic!
Hiring staff during perilous times
Did Kathryn hire ahead of the curve or wait for the business to grow first? She concluded that, when going through the hiring process, it depends on the role. This is because some roles can be categorised as investment roles. With this reason in mind, this helped her to take on staff earlier than most agencies would:
“We’ve taken on a lot of roles earlier than most other agencies. Most agencies probably don’t have a Marketing Manager until they’re at the £1M mark. We had a Marketing Manager pretty much from day one.”
When is the best time to hire?
Kathryn surmises that it’s a good idea to strategically hire for positions that aid with long-term growth. Not only hiring when big projects are undertaken. Pointing to the benefits of helping put certain systems and process in place.
“We’ve obviously hired when we’ve landed big projects and needed to expand the creative team to be able to deliver it. In addition we’ve also thought strategically and hired people for positions that would further our growth. To allow us to scale and have the systems, processes, and culture in place.”
Are you hiring the right people?
Sounds relatively straightforward, but Kathryn states it hasn’t been completely smooth sailing. Hiring ahead of the curve can work out great, but it’s important to be attuned to when things aren’t going so well.
She shared an example of a time when hiring for a client service director. Admitting it’s a difficult role at an earlier stage. The director was used to handling £1M+ clients but Copy House had no clients with an account that size.
“We’re about the £1.2/1.5 million turnover, so we don’t have one client that is that sizeable. Plus they’re used to working on just those bigger accounts in already established agencies. Agencies that have the systems & the setup already – and aren’t building from scratch.”
How was this problem resolved?
Unfortunately, Kathryn goes on to explain that eventually both parties agreed it wasn’t working out.
“In the end both parties mutually agreed it wasn’t really working. We didn’t see the impact that we had wanted to see. It wasn’t really helpful, nor was it really our fault. It happens sometimes.”