Where to Start: Building a Team with Joy Cho

Jenna Kutcher 

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March 18, 2019


She has the most followed account on Pinterest with almost 13 million followers, but this isn’t about Pinterest. Her company has been featured in Fast Company, Oprah Magazine, and Good Morning America to name a few, but this isn’t about getting media for your business. AND she was named one of Time’s 30 Most Influential People on the Internet, but this is not an episode about influence. While Joy Cho has expertise in so many areas of entrepreneurship, today’s episode is the answer to a question you’ve asked again and again: How do I build a TEAM? Joy Cho is an expert in hiring, managing, keeping, and leveraging a team to grow her business, and today she is sharing her actionable tips and lessons learned with YOU.

For me, hiring a team was a key difference between maintaining my business and GROWING my business, allowing me to step back and remain the CEO and visionary. I’m excited to dig into this topic with Joy today. By the end of this, you’ll know when it’s time to hire a team member, how to find the right person for the role, how to keep that person on your team, and the best ways to leverage their strengths to grow your business.

Meet Joy

Joy Cho is the Founder and Creative Director of Oh Joy! and has been running a successful business for over 13 years. She started her company in 2005 as a solo freelancer working at home and grew into a lifestyle brand with a team of her own. Oh Joy! creates a wide range of licensed products including home décor, baby & nursery, pet, and furniture collections with brands such as Target, Petco, and more. The brand also creates daily editorial content with a focus on fashion, home decor, and joyful moments from the everyday. Joy has given keynote speeches on entrepreneurship, leadership, and social media at dozens of conferences, and consulted for hundreds of small businesses over the years, helping to guide budding entrepreneurs through their growth and struggles.

How to Know It’s Time

When Joy was preparing to pitch to Target and saw the amount of work and the required deliverables they have for her, she knew a team member would be necessary to get it all done. Sure, she could’ve tackled it on her own, but the opportunity with Target was only one part of her business, and a team member would help carry the load. At the time, Joy was also working with a mentor, someone who had grown and sold a few businesses. The mentor encouraged her to take the risk of hiring a team member and walked her through the experience. Joy also asked herself, “What is the next level?” If she wanted to grow her business and take it beyond its current level, Joy needed to bring one someone who she could ask for help so she could focus on other things.

Paying Your New Employee

Look at what your company has made and your profit growth year over year (or month over month). With consistent growth and profit trending upwards, you can set aside a chunk of money to pay your team member every month. Of course, setting aside that money to pay someone may come with some personal sacrifices. Joy explained, “It’s the same thing as budgeting, like you’re saving up for a car or a house. Sometimes it has to affect you, especially when you are the sole owner of your business.” What can you cut down on spending so you can save up for an employee? Remember, you don’t need to hire someone full-time right away. Start slow with a part time team member.

The Hiring Process

When Joy hired her first employee, she had the guidance of her mentor to sort through resumes and narrow a field of applicants. She posted the job listing on her blog (this was pre-Instagram and social media) and met people for interviews in coffee shops. One method for finding a great team member that stuck with her from the first hire through all of her hires today is going with her gut. But now, she has a more detailed “gut” process that includes looking for SPECIALISTS versus GENERALISTS.

Many entrepreneurs making their first hire want to hire another “ME”, a person just like them who can do it all with a generalized skillset. Joy advises instead that you hire someone specific to a need that you have in an area that’s not your favorite or your strength. The very first hire Joy made was an admin assistant to handle scheduling and emails, so she could keep her focus on design. Now all of her team members have very specific roles within the business.

3 Things NOT To Do When Hiring

First, don’t post a general or vague job listing. Setup your applicant to give you as much relevant information as possible with a specific qualifications. Ask questions in the application that you might otherwise ask in the interview.

Second, don’t sugarcoat the role or the company. Everyone wants to present their company as fun and exciting, but people need to know the nitty-gritty of the job. Tell people the hard stuff, that it’s a busy company, that there’s a lot of work that goes into the glitz and glamour that they see on social media.

Finally, don’t forget to ask about the candidates future plans and how YOU fit into their goals. Potential employers often ask questions about what the employee will bring to the table for the company, but forget to weigh the fit from the candidate’s position, too. Joy always wants to make sure that the role in her company aligns with the path of the potential employee, and that it’s not just a convenient job for them to have.

More from This Episode

So you have a great team… How to you keep them on board? No one has ever quit Joy’s team and she shares incredible insight for keeping people on board with her and her business. Also in this episode, Joy and I talk through the differences and varying management styles with an in-person team versus a fully remote team (like mine!) Plus, we dig into how to empower your team to make decisions that align with your biggest business goals so when you hand over “your baby” you know it’s in good hands. Press play on the player above for the super insightful interview filled with actionable tips from Joy Cho.

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Photo by Lily Glass

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  1. […] frequently. There’s always nuggets of information but this past month, Joy Cho talked about building a team for her business and it was full of great information. I’d highly recommend it if you are […]


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Before you get any further... Hi! I'm Jenna Kutcher!

A small town Minnesota photographer, podcaster, educator and puppy rescuer, my happiest days are spent behind my computer screen sharing my secrets with the world. I'm glad you're here.

I’m an expert at online marketing, a nerd when it comes to the numbers, and my obsession is teaching others how to make a living doing what they love (without it taking over their life). 

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