The Nectafy Hiring Story–The Slightly Abridged Version
During our inaugural Nectafy Open House, one of our guests asked this question:
“Is everyone on your team an employee, or do you work with freelancers? Also, did you start solo and eventually hire Tiffany, or did you hire Tiffany from day one? I’m struggling with how to add to my team.”
We ran out of time during the Open House, but I wanted to make sure I answered the question, and I’ll get to my answer below… but first, here’s some background on what you’re about to read.
As we discussed this question in our internal team chat, I ended up sharing highlights of the entire Nectafy story to this point in time. (That’s what you’ll find below.) In the last four years, our team has evolved from “me in my basement” in 2012 to 10 team members worldwide in October 2016.
So here’s a look at our company—the good, the bad, and the evolving—and some insight into what keeps Nectafy going (and growing).
The Nectafy Story
Nicolae and I met way back when it was just me, and I needed some help with front-end development. It’s always been my goal to build relationships with contractors, and he and I hit it off immediately. After a while, I asked him to give us 20 hours per week, and then quite a while back I asked him to work with us full time. Everyone on our team is an employee, although from a payroll perspective, Nicolae would be considered a full-time contractor (because he lives in Amsterdam). Nicolae has impressed me with his ability to hit deadlines and do really good work.
I wanted to find a teenager I could apprentice on how to run video cameras, edit video, and help me with a few other marketing tasks. I was excited to meet one of my neighbors, Markus, who was in high school and just so happened to be looking for a job. Markus did a great job of learning and producing our early videos, including helping me with our far-overproduced 404 error page video. (While I was sad to see him head off to college, I’m proud of what Markus has done—he’s got a super-bright future.)
I hired Tiffany back in June 2013. Tiffany and I had worked together at a previous job and I loved her attention to detail and tasks. (All the things I’m absolutely terrible at!) I took a risk hiring her because it cut into my pay, but I knew I had to take the risk if we were ever going to grow into more than “Lance in the basement.”
When we were ready to grow our team again, I asked Tiffany if she knew any writers, and she referred me to Emily, who just happened to be a fantastic writer with experience writing for a couple of universities you have heard of. Emily instantly impressed me with her writing skills and her ability to connect with people. Since she is a mother of two young children, she has opted to work something less than full-time, but it’s still a considerable amount. She’s been a part of the Nectafy team since September 2013.
It’s worth mentioning that we began our HubSpot experiment in October 2013. For almost three years, we’ve continued to try to answer the question, “Does HubSpot work?” Check out the most recent of our experiment articles, HubSpot Review: 2 Years Of Real-World Use.
Marisa joined our team as a part-time writer and administrative team member back in April 2014. I figured out that she was awesome at keeping me personally on track and could also help us when we needed writing help in a pinch. She’s proven to be a key keeper of organization at our company. She currently works part-time, 10-15 hours a week, helping us with HR, payroll, and administration.
We got our second writer in August 2014, when I asked Tiffany for additional suggestions for writers and she recommended her sister, Traci. Traci worked part-time for us for a while and then moved to full-time in late spring of 2015. Traci did a fantastic job doing what we asked of her at a critical point in our company, and she worked with us until the beginning of 2016.
I met Henry way back in 2011 when he was in the Boston area. He started his own marketing agency, and he hired me to add a couple of WordPress installations to his clients’ sites so he could do content marketing for them. (Back then my “company” was called “NearlyFreeLance.” Genius, I know.)
I was super impressed with his professional demeanor and knowledge of how to get results with content marketing. Sometime after that meeting, Henry left for California to work at several startups in various marketing roles. I followed that part of his career with interest, and when I finally had the ability and got up the nerve, I offered him a pay cut and a less-certain future to join us over here at Nectafy. Much to my delight, Henry agreed to take on a full-time position as our inbound marketing strategist working with each of our clients. That was back in August 2014—since then, Henry has taken on additional roles and delivered brilliantly.
Now he’s effectively running Nectafy—he serves as our “integrator” (hat tip to EOS system founder Geno Wickman) and has been key in making us profitable and more effective than ever as an inbound marketing agency.
In 2015, it became clear that we needed another writer. Since we didn’t have any more recommendations, we knew it was time to try our hands at a real hiring process. To be honest, I was scared to death.
We read a ton of books and wrote out a bunch of talking points for interviews to make sure we found the right person since this was the first time we were going to hire a team member that had no connection to any other team member.
After reviewing hundreds of candidates, we chose the perfect candidate for our writing position, Megan. She started with us as a part-time writer (30 hours per week), and she has really blown us away with both her technical skill and her ability to think big-picture on growing Nectafy as a company. She moved to full-time in May 2016.
In February 2015 and again in May 2015, we hired two wonderful people who impressed us during the hiring process, one as full-time account strategist and one as graphic designer. Unfortunately neither of those team members worked out. Those two experiences changed the trajectory of the company for 2015, and we’ve learned a lot from them.
As anyone at Nectafy can attest, I take my family and business alignment pretty seriously. I love my family, and they are my focus. Besides my marriage, my priority is raising my kids to be critical-thinking, hard-working, comfortable-in-their-own-skin adults. So, I knew that I didn’t just want to “give my kids a job” at Nectafy because they’re my kids. But a few years ago, I began to see that Ellie has real potential in the communicative arts and in showing serious-minded responsibility with any task that she’s been given. So, back in October 2015, after Markus left for school, I gave her the opportunity to work with our team for 5-6 hours a week as an inbound marketing intern/assistant. She produces our videos, helps with content research, and pinch-hits when we need additional hands on inputting content. I’m not saying this just because I’m a proud papa: She’s done a fantastic job with everything that she’s been given, and she’s a real asset to the team.
At the end of 2015, rather than try to hire another account strategist, we decided to find a team member that would serve in a full-time role as an inbound account coordinator. This team member would work closely with Henry in his account strategist role to deliver inbound services to our clients. That would allow him time to work with more clients and focus on what he’s uniquely good at.
In early 2016, we powered up our hiring process, and after spending time looking at 324 applicants, we met Gabby. We were all convinced that she was the perfect person to join our team. We were right. Gabby has done an impressive job of running HubSpot for our clients, reporting and handling project management for retainer clients, and creating and running our wellness program. Oh, and she writes, communicates, and represents Nectafy extremely well, too.
Fast forward to June 2016. We knew it was time to hire another full-time writer. We started the process up, this time with our entire team involved in the hiring process. It’s been inspiring to watch how each member of our team has stepped up to help, whether it was in reviewing resumes and applications, doing phone screens and interviews, or simply helping evaluate writing assignments.
After four months of reading, reviewing, talking, interviewing, thinking, and discussing, we finally found our newest team member, Meredith. She started at the beginning of October… we’re pumped!
Every team member has been a part of making Nectafy what it is. Each time we add a team member, we improve and become a stronger company.
So, that’s the abridged version of the answer to the question I was asked. If you’re in a similar situation—either starting a company on your own or trying to grow a close-knit one—maybe seeing how Nectafy has grown can help you.
“Wait… what about Lance?”
Hey, there—Henry speaking: Since Lance was the one telling this story (and hiring these people throughout the years), we wanted to talk a bit about the founder himself. Lance has transformed his skill set from a one-man band at NearlyFreeLance to the visionary leader of our small agency.
Back in the early days, Lance’s combination of design, copy writing, and development skills gave him the best chance to succeed alone.
Today, his ability to empower the people he has hired propels Nectafy forward. Lance’s approach to business and life has become our biggest attribute in attracting new people to the team.
Have more questions about our company?
Join our next Nectafy Open House! The next Open House will take place on the first Tuesday of next month at 11 a.m. Eastern—and if you work at an agency, we’d love for you to come hang with us for 30 minutes! Click here for instructions on how to join the call.