We’ve done tons of webinars and workshops and it seems like these questions always find their way to us. We talked with our co-founders, Lorena and Sakura, and asked them for their honest opinion on things like work-life balance, hiring employees, and creating your company culture.
Do you need a full business plan to start your business?
Lorena: There are a million answers to this question, but my personal opinion is NO. Some people spend years on a business plan just because they are insecure about their idea. It’s smart to do some research before you start and plan how you will be actually doing things but don’t let yourself stay on the planning stage forever. Like Nike says, “Just do it!”
Is it always a good idea to look for a capital partner to start a business?
Lorena: My personal opinion is if you don’t have the necessary resources to start your dream company, go to friends and family before you go to a bank or any other place for capital. Usually friends and family are more understanding and will not put as much pressure on you while you are starting. Again, that is just my personal experience.
How do you balance work and personal life as an entrepreneur?
Sakura: It was really difficult for us to do during the first two years, but I think as time has passed and the more structured our company became, we really started creating a healthy work/life balance. I think one big thing for us is that we try not to check our email after office hours or over the weekend, which has helped us significantly. Obviously, if we want or need to talk shop after work hours, we do, but we also respect each other’s time off and don’t expect a response that second. I think this is also where hiring someone who is good and that we trust is very valuable.
At what point did you feel like you needed to hire employees?
Sakura: Even though we were working 24/7 and felt like we were checking so many things off our to-do list, it still felt like it wasn’t enough and that we weren’t accomplishing anything. We luckily tested out the whole “employee” thing with our internship program before we really hired someone, but we knew pretty quickly that we needed desperate help.
What’s your hiring process?
If we don’t find a perfect fit within our current or past internship groups for a job opening, we share all over social media for the job opening we have. We have our Careers page
and list the job description and requirements on that page, so we don’t have tons of applications that we have to go through to see if they fit the requirement. We then sort and find the best candidates and bring them in for an interview. If they get through the first round of interviews, we’ll ask them to come in for a second interview or have them complete a pre-hire sample project. We recently started having our final candidates complete an aptitude & personality quiz. This quiz has become very important for us because our company culture is more important than anything and we want to make sure we are bringing in a person that’ll complement our company and staff. We’ve definitely learned a lot in the last three years about how important the hiring process is through trial & error!
What are some qualities that you should look for when hiring someone for your company?
Lorena: As entrepreneurs, we rely on our people to make our dreams aka companies grow, so hiring the right people is key!!! My personal opinion is that experience and knowledge are of course, super important, but the number one thing is attitude! A good attitude is a must! Lack of experience or knowledge can be fixed with training. Mean people can’t be fixed and they can actually be toxic to the rest of your employees. Additional qualities that I love to see in people we hire are: Proactiveness, solution-oriented, ambitious, honest, confident, and modest.
Business partner or no business partner?
Sakura: There are pros and cons to everything, but this really depends on the compatibility between you and your business partner. Business partnerships can be such a wonderful thing when it works and when you have great communication, but it could bring your company down if you don’t. Some people are just not meant to work with people, but are excellent bosses–there’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s extremely important to be aware of these types of things. If you do decide to have a business partner, make sure you know your strengths & weaknesses, and that your partner complements your weaknesses. You must trust one another in decision making and learn to let things go at times.
What are your thoughts on internships?
Sakura: We love our interns and our internship program. Some say having interns are a lot of work because they’re basically there for a semester and then you have to re-train someone else the next semester, but they’re great help if you structure it right. It’s a big investment to hire someone for your company, so you want to make sure you are completely happy with them and an internship is the perfect opportunity to see if they are a good fit. You’re also teaching them so many great, valuable lessons–we highly recommend it. We work with universities directly, so they receive school credit for their internship. It’s a win win!
What are some tips for a good company culture?
Lorena: Company culture is everything as it doesn’t just help you attract the best people, but retain them. We all need to be happy at work to be productive and effective at our jobs. Some things that have helped us with our company culture are trying to set the example and always showing up to work with a smile on our face ready to take on the day. Being team-oriented has also helped us as well. Our team is constantly working together and bouncing ideas off each other, not just responding to emails. Lastly, we try to be close to our whole team, and we promote a lot of team bonding and activities outside of the office.
Do you actually like to work?
Lorena: I have been asked this so many times! And the answer remains the same: I LOVE to work because I love what I do. It is true that you can love work as long as you are passionate. It’s not just a Pinterest-worthy quote haha! Don’t wait for a job that you love to land on your lap. Create it for yourself!