George Papadeas, is COO of The HOTH, an SEO company with products.
Typically SEO is thought of as a service, but George and his team are positioning their company to lead with products instead.
And they’ve experienced incredible growth in the last couple years. They’ve seen more than just growth in revenue, too — over the past couple of years, they’ve grown their team from 4 members to 43. It’s also worth noting that they’re 100% bootstrapped.
So, how did they do it?
That’s what I invited George to talk about on our latest episode of the 1 to 10 podcast. He gave us an inside look a how The HOTH has been able to scale so successfully by focusing on hiring well, effectively managing talent, and succession planning.
Here’s what he had to say.
When did you know that you needed to start hiring?
George: Of course revenue’s a big piece of that. That’s the way to quantify hiring right off the bat.
But then it’s also the new projects, the R&D.
When we see we’re having success with something, we not only want to double down on that, but we want to take it to the next level.
In the beginning our C-level guys were writing email campaigns and writing support tickets. We realized very quickly that we could train someone else to do these tasks, which would enable them to focus on finding new products and improving processes.
So, we got to a certain revenue point and we decided that we wanted to scale and expand our offering. The only way to do that was to put people in place to take some workload off our C-level people.
So, you focus on check-ins over reviews, right?
George: Yes, we have bi-annual reviews, but we call them check-ins. My theory is that you should be reviewing all the time — you should be giving that relevant feedback 24/7.
And during our check-ins, we make sure to share our succession plan with that team member. If they agree to it, great. And if they don’t, we want to hear what they want to do.
We want to make sure that when we put someone in a position, it’s what they want to do moving forward.
Conversely, if we end up putting someone in the wrong position, we course correct very quickly. We identify it and we fix it. We don’t have time to just give it another 3 months and see what happens.
We want to provide that team member with a position that they will thrive in and the resources that they need to do so.
So, it’s about being really diligent with the people you bring in the door?
George: That’s right.
And even though we need our roles clearly defined, we don’t hire the position here — we hire the person.
I know when I hire someone, they’re probably not going to be in the same role a year from now — that’s just how the business is going.
And I want to make sure each new team member can handle, not just the next role, but the one after that. I want to make sure they have the potential of maturity to handle those roles.
What’s next for The HOTH?
George: Growth is still the main focus here. And it’s growth by providing products that our customers want and that our customers will see success with.
We’re not going to offer something that doesn’t give our customers success.
Because if it doesn’t give them success, then what are we doing?
We’re looking to continue to grow, to continue to overdeliver, and keep opening up our product offering.
What’s the #1 Thing Someone Can Do to Grow their B2B Tech Company?
We ask every guest on our podcast if they have one grand piece of advice for any growing B2B tech company.
George: Listen to your people.
Listen to your boots on the ground.
I love just being able to ask our team members questions on how their day is going and what they’re seeing with their work.
As C-level team members, we think we know everything that’s going on with the business. But that’s mostly not the case. You have to really listen to what’s going on on the ground.
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