Spirit Monkey, which launched in 2011 in San Antonio, makes colorful patches for elementary school students. In 2014, the business brought in $3 million in revenue. Founder Lisa deBonoPaula says her employees are not as efficient as she'd like them to be, so she asks Marcus Lemonis, the investor, entrepreneur, and star of CNBC's hit series The Profit, for advice on how to hire.
Marcus Lemonis: Tell me about the business.
Lisa deBonoPaula: We make embroidered patches that schools and other organizations use to reward their teams. We started with four designs, and now we have more than 3,500. And we have five full-time employees and three part-time employees.
ML: How did you come up with the idea?
LD: I was a PTA mom at a school in Texas, and the principal was looking for an alternative to food rewards. I started making patches, and soon the children wanted to collect them all.
ML: So what's your question?
LD: Often my employees can't keep up with my fast pace. I find myself doing their work. I've already let two people go. How do I find the right talent?
ML: What sorts of tasks are you assigning them?
LD: Operational tasks, like invoicing.
ML: Would anybody think that you're being unreasonable [in your expectations]?
LD: I don't think so. If I can physically do something, I don't understand why other people can't.
ML: I think it's unrealistic to assume anybody else is ever going to be you. And it's unfair to your staff. Just because you have a high level of efficiency in those specific jobs doesn't make them inept. Are you starting the process in the right way? Are you training them right? You're used to being the jack-of-all-trades. But that's not going to work long term.
LD: I think I'm good at what I do, but I also think there are people better than me.
ML: It doesn't sound like you think that. Inventors and entrepreneurs aren't always great managers. It sounds like you've reached the point at which you need an operations manager--somebody to run the staff. The question is, are you willing to let someone else do that job?
LD: Suggestions for finding the right person?
ML: You have to come to grips first. If I interviewed your staff, they would say that you micromanage them. You have some reflecting to do before you hire.
Was Marcus Right?
After meeting with Lemonis in October, deBonoPaula has decided to make some changes.
"It was not easy to hear the word micromanager," she says. "He was right, but I'd never been called that before."
Moving forward, deBonoPaula plans to work with a local staffing agency to find and hire an operations manager. She also plans to spend more time training her employees: "I think we did a terrible job on the front end--just taking a résumé, talking to people in a short little interview, and assuming they could do everything."
However, she anticipates that letting go will not be easy. "I still think it's hard to do what he said. I don't think at the snap of a finger I'm going to be able to find the person who can learn everything and know it all," she says.