🥗 When to Trim the Fat

Hey there,

Welcome back for another bite to chew on, or, in this case, a smaller bite to chew on.

This is a personal case study into Obvi’s organizational bloat last year.

Take it from us on how you can learn to see this coming.

You might think the answer to efficiency is more employees on the front lines, but in reality, it’s about enabling each person to do more and improve.

More is not always the answer.

It's about the pitfalls of rapid expansion without readiness to manage, and how we found a more efficient path forward.

Get ready to face some real introspective stuff here.

The Growth Trap

Last year, we went on a hiring spree with Obvi

Web developers, influencer marketing specialists, project managers—you name it, we hired them. 

We had no business doing ANY of that.

We weren't ready to be managers. 

We had a team of stars who unfortunately didn't have a constellation to guide them. 

No KPIs, no direction, and it wasn’t working…

Our overhead costs ballooned, and our productivity didn't.

Lesson Learned

Before you scale, you need to think about three things:

A) Do you personally have the ability and capacity to build and manage a team?

If not, you need to fix this issue first.

B) Does your team have the ability and capacity to build and manage a team?

If not, you need a plan to fix this.

C) How are you going to finance this added overhead costs?

In other words, how do you plan to grow?

If you don’t have answers to these questions, stop, and reevaluate what you really need.

The more honest you are with yourself, the better the results will be.

Check your ego and do what’s best for your business, not appearances.

Growth isn't just about adding bodies to tasks; it's about leading effectively.

Take Emotion Out of the Equation

This will be one of the hardest truths to swallow when it comes to realizing bloat.

The emotional ties you’ve already built are that much harder to cut, but at the end of the day, business is business.

Be open and honest about each side of the equation.

If an employee doesn’t provide positive incremental value, no matter if they’re the most charismatic character at happy hour, it might be time to move on and part ways.

There’s a reason why we’ve called it the growth trap.

Once you’re stuck, it can be so hard to get out.

(It’s going to be alright. It happened to us. You can get through it too.)

This is great and all, but what if we already hired beyond our means?

We’re bloated beyond belief and don’t know what to do…

OK, We’re Bloated. Where’s the Pepto Bismol?

We have these mounting costs, extra employees and a realization of our management gaps.

What did we do?

We took that exact step back to figure things out.

It was time for some tough decisions.

We restructured, focusing on efficiency over expansion.

The main solution for us? Agencies. 

Instead of individual roles, we leveraged agencies that offered a suite of services at a fraction of the cost.

Now, this isn’t an end all be all fix…

Evaluate the cost-benefit of in-house vs. agency support.

Agencies can offer broad expertise and scalability without the need for direct management on your part.

This can also help you dip your toes into a form of “standoff-ish” leadership.

Use every interaction as a learning experience to not only better your business, but yourself personally as well.

Here’s what we learned from trying to build our own in-house creative department.

(Spoiler alert: we don’t have one anymore)

Farm Out Creativity and Be the Big Fish

Building an in-house creative department was ambitious, to say the least. 

Landing superstar brand talent in-house is EXTREMELY difficult.

Even if you can find superstar talent in your niche, it often comes with a superstar price tag.

Not to mention the time and hourly costs of the hiring process, onboarding, training etc.

So there we were with three full-time salaries plus creator costs later, we were no closer to our content goals. 

More bloat, still no results…

The solution? A boutique agency. 

They brought everything under one roof—for the cost of one in-house salary.

Consider the agency route for specialized functions. 

Boutique agencies, in particular, can offer personalized attention without breaking the bank.

You can fractionalize out the high costs and save time managing and developing that in-house talent.

Weighing efficiency over everything, the move for us was to reach into the already developed, managed external talent pool.

This journey taught us the value of being the right-size fish in the right-size pond.

With boutique agencies, we weren't just another account.

We were a priority, the big fish in a small pond.

This shift in perspective from scaling in-house to optimizing external resources gave us back the time to handle our own responsibilities.

Instead of managing, we could review, edit, and green light the creative content.

Here’s an actionable step to keep in mind: 

When choosing partners or agencies, consider their client portfolio.

Aim to be a significant client to them.

It can make all the difference in the attention and service you receive.

Tool of the Week

We finally found the answer to not just inch our AOV up but to significantly boost it.

Imagine seeing an 11% lift in AOV in just weeks, and it didn’t stop there.

Over the next few months, we kept seeing growth, pushing our revenue per transaction higher without pouring more hours into brainstorming or back-and-forth with developers.

We didn’t do this alone. Aftersell took on the heavy lifting and after a brief set up call, their team was off to the races, optimizing our post-purchase flows.

They delivered results with ease and clarity into the process, letting use focus on other growth areas.

For any of you trying to boost your AOV or streamline your sales process, give Aftersell a shot an see what lift they can give to your business HERE.

We’re sure glad we did!


The Latest Soundbite

Keep things simple.

Take a breath, slow down, and do the best you can with the fundamentals.

The simple choice is to watch the latest podcast episode with Ezra Firestone.

Watch how he can break down complex, high level concepts in such an easy way to understand and apply in your own business in the link below!

Hungry for More?

Clear your schedule Thursday night!

We’re partnering with OpenStore and Workspace6 to create an environment of growth with some of the top founders on Shopify.

Join the Happy Hour in NYC on April 4th at 6:00pm, and hold the bloat.

Get on the RSVP list HERE!

Thanks for Reading Along

If there's one thing our story teaches, it's that growth for the sake of growth can lead you down a costly path. 

It's not about how many people you have on the payroll, but how effectively you're moving towards your goals.

Sometimes, less is more, and smarter is better than bigger.

Your journey might be different from ours, but the principles of thoughtful scaling, efficiency, and partnerships are universal.

If you’re going through this right now, we hope this helped give some light at the end of your tunnel.

We'd love to hear about your experiences with organizational sizing, management challenges, or the decision to go in-house vs. agency.

Let’s help each other to grow our community's knowledge pool, free of bloated info.

All the best

Ron & Ash