How to Grow Your Business from 2 to 200 People

To call Cleveland custom apparel maker University Tees’ beginnings humble might be a bit of an understatement. Launched by a couple of college students from their dorm room at Miami University, the company, which specializes in providing clothing for college markets, today employs 200 people.

In advance of his workshop focusing on employee retention, development and branding at this year’s BizConCLE, Mind Your Business had an opportunity to sit down with Nate Stansberry of University Tees to find out about the roadmap the company followed to grow from two to 200 employees. Read on below for the seven lessons the company learned along the way.

Lesson 1: Recruit your customers
The company learned early on that establishing natural recruiting pipelines is one easy way to find employees. One of these naturally occurring, organic pathways exists with the customers who already are fans of your product and understand what you’re all about. Not only are they already familiar with your product, if they’re customers that means they’re probably fans of yours as well. And if they are fans of the company, that means they’re also likely to bring a positive attitude to their work and help you build a positive culture at your business as well as helping you stay authentic to other customers.

Lesson 2: You can’t force culture
Speaking of culture, Stansberry cautioned that this is something that can’t be forced. The people you bring on board must live and breathe your company’s mission. Again, having a native pipeline as described above will help the culture at your business create itself. “Having customers within your organization is vital to growth,” he says.

Lesson 3: Engage employees for referrals
You can continue to try to enhance your candidate pipeline by surveying existing employees for referrals (if you decide not to promote from within) when a position becomes available. “Your best people are going to bring in their best people,” Stansberry says.

Lesson 4: Internships are important
Internships are another good pipeline companies should consider for growth, he says. It’s also a great way of elevating people to other positions throughout the organization. This demonstrates that there are growth opportunities at your business, which is both a great employee recruitment and retention tool.

 RELATED: Check out our Internship Central page to learn more about internship best practices.

Lesson 5: Find the right fit
When thinking about advancing the company’s campus managers, it seemed like a natural fit for University Tees to integrate these workers into its B-to-B sales division. Turns out, though, that wasn’t the case because the jobs were too different. Take time to think about the unique talents the members of your staff have and what positions you have available internally to help them build on these strengths.

Lesson 6: Perfect the interview process
It’s important to have a consistent process in place when bringing in job candidates. Here’s the template in place at University Tees:

·  First, look in house for potential candidates before opening the door to referrals and a general external search.

·  During the initial interview, dig deeper into the job seeker’s experience and give that person a sense of the company culture and what you’re all about.

· Next, have the hiring manager perform a “technical” interview that focuses on the job itself.

·  If possible, conduct a “shadowing” session where the candidate meets the team and sees how their role would interact with other roles at the company.

·   Perform a personality assessment, if desired.

Lesson 7: The first three days are important
Once the new hire is made, your job isn’t over yet. Give your new employee a tour of the facility. Ensure they’re all set up with access to servers, their desk is clean and their email is ready. Then, consider matching them up with an in-house mentor from preferably another department who checks in with the new hire to ensure everything is going smoothly.

Learning about how you can perfect your hiring process and efficiently grow your company is just one of the topics that is going to be explored this year during BizConCLE. Click here to learn more and secure your spot today.