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Running a business

How to be a better boss: 5 tips for hiring and keeping a world-class team

Being your own boss is amazing, but if you have employees, it’s important to keep their happiness and wellbeing top of mind as well. A team that feels appreciated, supported, and heard is a team that’s likely to stay engaged long-term, and that means less turnover, fewer hiring expenses, and better morale overall.

Kevin Wong, co-founder of Lunar Hard Seltzer, has put in the time and effort to build a growing, thriving team. Check out his secrets to hiring and retaining incredible employees in this episode of Mind The Business: Small Business Success Stories, then listen to the full episode below.

1. Take time to know what you want, before you hire

Hiring the right fit is important, but before that rec hits the job board, think through your business needs. For Wong, that process begins with reflection and getting to the root of the problem. “You're either solving a need because you need more, or you're solving a need because you need better,” he says.

So how do you know what you need? “First, you start off by journaling,” he explains. “What did I do this week? And then you kind of group those [things] and be like, what are tasks that fit into a role? Where do I need help?” If you’re struggling to define a role, try writing out a job rec for it. “Writing it helps you think through who and what you need to hire for,” he says.

A person is drinking from a bottle while another person looks on.

2. When hiring, go for the go-getters

“We have this thing — a line on our careers page that says, ‘Feel free to invent your own role.’ And we're inviting people to pitch themselves to us,” says Wong. 

It’s a strategy that’s worked well for Lunar Hard Seltzer. People who like the company and feel strongly about forging their own path reply with reasons they should be hired — sometimes pointing out pain points Wong and his business partner haven’t considered. “And that has been so awesome, because there are these awesome go-getters out there that are going to reach out [and] pitch us,” he says. 

The result? More enthusiastic hires who aren’t afraid of thinking creatively and taking initiative. 

3. Do the work to set the tone

Lunar Hard Seltzer has two owners: Wong and his co-founder, Sean Ro. The two began their relationship as friends and have since had to navigate the joys and challenges of being business partners as well. 

As co-owners, Wong and Ro know very well that their words, actions, and interactions set the tone for the entire company. It’s a responsibility they take seriously. 

“We actually made a commitment to each other that we would go to couples therapy,” says Wong. Therapy has helped them learn how to invest time in their relationship beyond work which, as Wong describes it, can be ”all-consuming.” They take time to be intentional about how they check in on each other — a habit that’s helped them form a healthy foundation for their personal and professional relationship.

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It's really about making sure that everyone feels included, feels valued, that we're taking time to appreciate each other.

4. Take time to show appreciation

When you’re focused on business growth, it’s easy to overlook everyday victories. You might take for granted yesterday’s accomplishments, but doing so leaves your team feeling undervalued.  

“The most important thing is showing appreciation,” says Wong. At Lunar Hard Seltzer, one way team members convey appreciation is through giving snaps, which they do weekly at their all-hands meeting. “It's really about making sure that everyone feels included, feels valued, that we're taking time to appreciate each other,” he explains. “There's so many things that happen in any given week.” Taking a moment to let people give public kudos ensures that no one’s contribution is overlooked. 

5. When it comes to benefits, put yourself in their shoes

“It's so simple to say, but there's a weight to that decision, right?” It’s the first thing Wong thinks about when it comes to HR and employee benefits: his responsibility for his team’s care. He understands that providing quality benefits, and helping his team understand exactly what’s offered — is an integral part of his job as a leader. “All of a sudden, their livelihood — their income — is now resting on you as a business owner. It's on your shoulders.”

A bottle of alcohol sitting next to ice and pomegranate.

As a result, Wong and his business partner have spent a considerable amount of time contemplating and crafting their benefits packages. “I barely understood PPO …  when I just worked at someone else's company. But all of a sudden, I was like, wow. My co-founder and I spent a whole weekend just reading [and trying to understand] what does this mean? What would I want? What would I want when I was younger? What do I want now?” 

After the first year, Wong and his partner asked their team for feedback, then acted on that feedback to improve their benefits for the following year. “Before you commit to something so large, just know that it's your employee's wellbeing. It's a human's wellbeing. It's their livelihood. For a whole year. So make sure you treat that with the respect that it needs,” he advises.

Kevin Wong and Sean Ro aren’t just pioneers in modern hard seltzer. They’re successful business owners who’ve grown their two-man team into one that actively hires in multiple cities. Check out the full story in episode 6 of the Mind the Business podcast.

Feel confident from day one

You're never too small, and it's never too soon to know you're on track for success.

About the Mind the Business podcast

New business? No problem. Mind the Business: Small Business Success Stories, from the team at Intuit QuickBooks, is the source for tools and resources for small business owners as they face new hills to climb. Hosts Jannese Torres (Yo Quiero Dinero podcast) and Austin Hankwitz (Rate of Return podcast) connect with entrepreneurs across industries as they start and grow their businesses. From securing funding to building a team, they'll uncover what it takes to power success.

If you're looking for tools to manage your business and capital, the team of experts at Intuit QuickBooks can get you started with free guided set-up.

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