EcomCrew Podcast

E525: Employees vs. No Employees – Pros and Cons

4 months after Mike scaled down his team, Dave checks in with him and how it feels like to get back in the weeds of his ecommerce business.

Growing a team is second nature when revenue grows. 

It's a natural by-product of success, to help the business grow even more in the next year. 

But what is it like to maintain a $5M ecommerce business when you only have 1-2 employees? Dave is on the podcast today to check in on Mike 4 months after scaling down from a 20+ person team, to 1-2 employees for his ecommerce businesses. 

They'll be discussing the differences of employees vs. no employees, contractors, and how being nice can do more bad than good. 

If you've been thinking about scaling up your team, this episode is definitely for you. 

Here are some timestamps to skip to your favorite parts: 

  • 0:00 – Introduction
  • 1:13 – Current Team Status
  • 2:41 – Does everyone hit a stage where they don't want to manage?
  • 3:32 – Employee Loyalty
  • 7:27 – Generational Differences with Employment
  • 11:28 – Pros and Cons of Contractors
  • 13:11 – The Problem with Being Too Nice
  • 13:54 – Feeling Bad About Assigning Mundane Tasks
  • 22:28 – Pros of Being A Solopreneur
  • 32:55 – Cons of Being A Solopreneur
  • 35:49 – Losing Out On Growing As A Leader
  • 38:51 – ROI on Employees
  • 41:50 – Going to the Vegas Sphere 

As always, if you have any questions or anything that you need help with, reach out to us at if you're interested. 

Don’t forget to leave us a review on iTunes if you enjoy our content. If you have any questions, send us an email at We'd love to help you in any way we can. 

Happy listening, and until next time, happy selling! 

Full Audio Transcript

Mike Jackness:
This is Mike, and welcome to this edition of the eCom Crew Podcast. How's it going, Dave?

DJ (00:02.757)
This is Dave. Good, how about you?

Mike Jackness (00:09.982)
I'm still on the tail end of this jet lag crap. It's way better than it was a couple of days ago, but man, I tell you what, it is really tough for me when I come back. I know that after this weekend I'll probably be fine, but it was a very tough week for me. Did not get a lot done. Was not productive. Feeling just kind of blue because I'm not sleeping properly.

It's just affecting my well-being. So I'm looking forward to getting past that. I'm gonna be thinking seriously about any international trips moving forward because it's just like every time I come back, this is what happens and it's less and less fun.

DJ (00:44.233)
Yeah, yeah, well, I was fortunate not to get hit by that. I got hit by every other sickness on the planet in those three weeks, but I did not get hit with the jet lag sickness. So I'm all good on that end.

Mike Jackness (00:48.586)
Oh yeah.

Mike Jackness (00:54.066)
Yeah, luckily like I had no tummy issues of any kind, no sickness of any kind. I do feel like I'm getting a little sick right now just as I'm just so run down, but I think it's just fatigue. But yeah, I mean, traveling's fun, but it's not for the faint of heart.

DJ (01:09.257)
No, it isn't. What also is not for the faint of heart is running a business with no team members, which I guess is the topic of today's conversation.

Mike Jackness (01:19.462)
or significantly fewer team members at least, like dramatically less team members. I mean, we still have obviously our team with eCom Crew which we got to spend some time with.

We kind of alluded to this in the last episode. We spent some time with them in Hong Kong and I still have an employee on my side, but it's a lot different than having 22 employees. So it's a big difference and it's been, what, four months now. So now it's kind of on the tail end or the other side of it. And yeah, there's probably a lot to unpack here.

DJ (01:57.249)
Yeah, well, the interesting thing I think about today's conversation is that you're a little bit older than me. And sometimes I think you're a little bit ahead of me in terms of just business careers.

And I'm at a stage where I kind of get excited about managing people and like having a big team under me. And I remember you 6 or 7 years ago, you had that same mindset. At least I felt it from you that, you know, that part of the job you kind of look forward to.

And now, you know, it's 6 or 7 years later and you're not excited about that anymore. So I wonder, are you just 6 or 7 years ahead of me?

And when I'm a little bit older, a few years from now, will I feel that same way where, hey, I don't want to manage anybody and I just want to be on it on my own.

And so I wonder, is it just simply kind of a life cycle thing where everybody has this particular point in their business careers where they just don't want to manage anybody or is it more personal and only applicable to you?

Mike Jackness (02:52.854)
Yeah, I don't know. I don't think it's applicable just to me. I think if you asked a lot of entrepreneurs just across many industries, like what's the hardest part of running a business? And I think the answer would be people. It seems like that's pretty consistent. It is tough having employees and managing people.

And some people are way better at it than others. I think in order to be really good at it, you have to have probably some sort of ruthless trait in you where it's just like or you can think about things like more transactionally or you think about them just as employees and not necessarily as people.

I am much more of a people person and so I make the mistake always of just trying to have them be my friend just as much as my employee and I think that-

DJ (03:42.28)

Mike Jackness (03:45.738)
-becomes a problem. And so then, you get like invested in their personal lives or you expect them to do things that are to be loyal to you in some way that maybe isn't as realistic as you would want it to be. And so then it just sets you up to being hurt or let down. And I definitely see a pattern of that. So yeah, I mean, it's, you know, it's tough.

DJ (04:06.649)
Yeah. Well, we talked about this in Hong Kong as well, too, where you have this deep seated loyalty to your employees and you expect it goes both ways. And it had come up a while back where you had reached out to me and you're like,

Mike Jackness (04:18.788)

DJ (04:23.385)
Dave, I think Bob is looking for a job. Somebody let me know he's looking for a job. And I'm like, yeah, he probably is. That's what employees do. They're always looking for jobs. And your attitude is like, well, no, but I've been so good to him. Why would he ever look to move on and look for a better job? And to me, it was just like, yeah, that's kind of what employees do. Like, I know you know that, but I think you expect a little bit higher degree of loyalty than I do.

Mike Jackness (04:47.634)
Yeah, and I probably, I mean, I guess in a perfect way, I wish that people would treat me as like an employer, like I did for my employers, in previous, but I think maybe it's a generational thing, maybe it's just a personality thing.

I always had a different take when I was an employee. I mean, I was an employee for a total of eight years, almost nine years, where I got a W-2. It was 8 years. And it was two different employers. And again, I had just a totally different feeling about it. First of all, I was just I was thankful that they gave me the job. It was just it was a different attitude rather than like feeling entitled or prima donna that like I have this job. I was thankful for the opportunity, like super thankful.

Now part of it was that I was young, I didn't really have a whole lot of experience, and so that someone put their trust and faith in me, like I felt like I had won the lottery in some respects, like to even have the job.

And so, you know, my attitude always was just like, I will do anything it takes to like, never have them feel like they made a mistake hiring me. And that was just always the… And so like, I never said no to anything. I mean, I always felt like if you want me to go like sweep the floor, I'll go sweep the floor. I don't really care. Like, you know, a lot of people, you would hear a lot like, that's not my job. They asked me, you know, I'm not hired. That's not my job description. I always like just took offense to stuff like that. I was just like, who cares? They're paying you. Like, you're here to work. Like, it doesn't really matter what they're asking you to do.

Like if that's what they asked you to go, go do it. And I obviously realized that there's like, there's limits to this, but within reason, that's how I always felt. And so when I left, I always, especially the last job I was at for seven years, I ended up giving like 4 months notice and really making sure the place was left in a way that didn't leave them in a bad spot. 

DJ (06:45.169)

Mike Jackness (06:46.546)
But again, I mean, at that company, I saw it quite a bit. A lot of people were like, you know, this isn't my job type stuff, or they would leave with two weeks notice or felt like they were constantly being mistreated. Um, and so again, I think it's a generational thing. Maybe, maybe it was an upbringing thing. I did kind of come up in an entrepreneurial background as well. I talked to my grandparents quite a bit about this stuff.

DJ (06:53.519)

Mike Jackness (07:10.203)
I do not feel like it's an entitlement to have a job anywhere. And you should work hard to earn your paycheck and to keep your job. And that isn't necessarily how everybody else is.

DJ (07:24.129)
Yeah, it's interesting you bring that up right now. Like maybe there's a generational gap and there probably is a generation gap between me and you. And now I'm thinking like the next generation, like the one generation below me and say two below you. Man, this is actually kind of an epiphany is that.

Mike Jackness (07:38.614)

DJ (07:43.449)
there's probably a whole entirely different mindset shift in them and change in them between me and them, which I mean, I think we all kind of know like that millennial attitude of being entitled to a job and being expected to clock out at five o'clock and you never put in a minute after five o'clock and that's just what you're entitled to. So

Mike Jackness (08:05.238)

DJ (08:06.825)
It is kind of interesting just that generational change. And I never really thought of there being a generation gap between me and you. And probably that exists where you expect a little bit more loyalty than I do. And you expect people to stay with the company probably longer than I do. And so maybe there is. Yeah.

Mike Jackness (08:21.462)
I mean, one generation before me, people were working at a company for 20, 30 years. My mother-in-law worked at the same job for 20 something years, whatever it was. I mean, I forgot exactly the number of years, but I mean, and she gets a pension and like, this is only one generation we move, right? And so yeah, I do think that there is that. I also think that like, there's going to be the jokes on the employee at some point, right?

Um, over time, like it's not sustainable. Like the way things are moving is absolutely not sustainable from a perspective of like, a company. It costs a lot of money to have an employee.

DJ (09:03.217)

Mike Jackness (09:03.326)
And when it boils down to it, an employee has to have a return on investment. It does boil down to dollars and cents. As much as you want it to be about people and having a great team and whatever, when you hire someone, you have to get a return on them. So if you're spending $100,000 a year to make a big hire, a C-level employee, they need to return two, three, four hundred thousand dollars. In the case of Apple, it's crazy.

DJ (09:20.753)

Mike Jackness (09:33.2)
getting millions of dollars of revenue per employee. And so, if employees are constantly asking for more money, more benefits, and then to also want to do less work, work fewer days, work from home, like whatever, eventually it's just like, I think the script flips and you can only be held hostage for so long before things kind of turn around in the other direction.

DJ (10:00.681)
Yeah, yeah. Well, I mean, that's been a bit of a workplace shift too over the last few years, especially with COVID is this whole contractor economy and whether it's Uber Eats or just people doing more freelancing, opposed to actually wanting full time jobs. And I do think

That's probably where you're a little bit ahead of the curve, having all these full-time employees. It probably doesn't make sense because number one, they're expensive. And number two, a lot of the best people don't want full-time jobs right now. They'd rather freelancing gigs. And we do it for EconCrew to a certain degree.

I think we've all used contractors in our e-commerce businesses to a fairly high degree. So I think the need to have a bunch of full-time employees is going down. I think it's actually a hindrance and burden to the company more often than not. Before it used to be a competitive advantage having this giant team and you can scale everything and you can have a million different things done from this giant team. But I think now we're shifting to a world where you can have a $5 to $10 million e-commerce business and run it.

entirely with freelancers and contractors and maybe one or two employees.

Mike Jackness (11:09.118)
Yeah, I mean, that's definitely where we're at. I mean, we're running our e-commerce business that we have. It's gonna be a $5 million company next year easily, if not more, probably significantly more with one full-time employee, right? I mean, and we'll be using several contractors. And I like this contractor relationship. Like, I mean…

We've used it in the past. I also like having employees. There's benefits to both sides. There's pros and cons everywhere you look. But the nice thing about just kind of where things are right now in terms of our business and just my tolerance for things at this moment, I like the contract relationship, which is like you do this, when you finish it, I will pay you. And…

There's no goals to set. There's no vacation time to worry about. There's no like my mom is in a hospital with COVID and I need you to help me out here or whatever. I mean, it makes it kind of like that little bit more ruthless thing I was talking about earlier, which is it is transactional. You do the work, here's your money. You don't do the work, you don't get the money. And

you know, the no performance reports and other things are, you know, a pip or other things to go through if they aren't doing it. And then also you don't expect the loyalty necessarily, and you don't have to worry about your feelings getting hurt and a whole bunch of other good things. It also allows you to be very nimble. So like, I mean, if we need some graphics design work this week, we go hire that person. If we need some content, we hire that person. So having to like make a full-time hire for that one particular thing.

for where we're at right this minute, it does work better. But still on a perfect world, I would love to have like a team. I like, I love having a team. And there was definitely moments over the years where I felt like it was really awesome. And I would love to put lightning in a bottle and have that again, but it is very difficult. And I think we've learned a lot over the years with that where like, I think…

Mike Jackness (13:10.602)
Where things probably go wrong is by being too nice. At some point you gotta just like, there has to be a line of sand like the true do not cross line. Cause I think, you know, just being, being too nice like a lot, like everyone, you know, knows that they can take advantage more and you've now moved everything over there.

DJ (13:14.129)

Mike Jackness (13:31.858)
And, you know, it's tough. I mean, because again, the human part of me wants to do those things. Like, I never want to say no to somebody. I want to always try to help somebody if I can, especially someone that's, you know, helping us. But unfortunately, you know, the end result is that you end up regretting it.

DJ (13:52.461)
Here's a question for you. When it comes to managing people, how nice do you think you are, quote unquote, nice, in assigning and delegating jobs to them? Because this is one thing I've noticed with myself is sometimes there'll be some job I don't want to do some dirty task, which it's complex, it's hard, it's

not fun at all and I'm like, well, crap, I don't want to do this. I'm, I feel bad if I delegate it to somebody else. And I know that's actually not the right business decision. Like sometimes you just have to delegate these tasks, which you can't do, you don't want to do. And they're just not fun to do. And it's okay to delegate it to people. But I feel guilty when I do. How much do you feel that when you're managing people and do you think that's been a hindrance?

Mike Jackness (14:38.602)
It's interesting. Yeah, like 0%. Like I never have a problem with that. Yeah, I mean, because like, I mean, I don't know, like I'm paying them to do a job. Like I'm not asking them to literally shovel poop, right? So it's not like it's that kind of dirty. And I'm not asking, I would never ask anybody to do something that I wouldn't do myself. And so it's, you know, you know, and other people are better at those things. Some people enjoy what you would think is a miserable job.

DJ (14:43.844)

DJ (14:57.964)
Okay, but…

Mike Jackness (15:06.994)
some people enjoy it. I gotta know if you ever met Cindy, lady who worked with us for over 20 years. I knew her actually from my old job and we ended up hiring her. She worked for us for over a decade for two different companies.

DJ (15:19.289)
Yeah, she helped unwind some of the spaghetti plates of businesses that you had going on. And I would every now and then be subject to trying to figure out what are you doing with your books here, Mike? That's Cindy, right? Yeah.

Mike Jackness (15:28.19)
Yes. Yeah. That's Cindy. She loves doing data entry. Like, I mean, I would want to jump off of a building before I did some of the things that she enjoys doing. Right. I mean, so it's like there's different personalities. And so I think that part of the thing that

is important or the things you consider when hiring a team is you wanna hire people who compliment you, right? Like you don't wanna hire another version of you. And so whether it's someone that enjoys doing data entry when you hate doing it, or someone who's really good at graphic design, when you're, I can barely draw a stick figure, or someone who's like a prolific, really good content writer like we have.

on the team for eComCrew, like that is not my forte. Having these types of people, I think, really help build out your business. And so, and even when you're hiring a COO, you really should be looking at the counterbalance to you. So like if you're the visionary, you need the implementer. If you're an implementer, you need a visionary. And so, I don't know, like I've never had a problem with that at all. Like ever like feeling bad about like asking someone to

to do something else. Sometimes you're like, I know that this isn't fun. Like there was times like when we had our warehouse from like, would hand Dan like a whole ring full of labels and be like, good luck to you and know that that's not gonna be fun. I know, but it's not fun. It's like the warehouse is hot. It's like he could, like he has other tasks that he probably enjoys doing way more. And so yeah, I mean, like I, but the thing is I empathize with it, but I don't feel bad about it.

DJ (16:45.541)
Yeah, but that's part of his job.


DJ (17:02.621)
Let me give you a concrete example, one that we can both kind of understand, podcast listeners can understand too. So we have a podcast manager, Ben. One of the things we've been doing is getting podcast sponsors. Would you feel comfortable asking him, go and cold call 20 of the top e-commerce SaaS companies and try to sell them an ad? Now, not necessarily.

Mike Jackness (17:25.035)

DJ (17:27.317)
his direct job description, but at the same time it's conceivable that would be part of the job description and I For sure would not want to go do that. I'm sure you probably wouldn't want to would you feel comfortable signing that to him? By the way, ben, don't worry. This is not going to be your next space camp ticket

Mike Jackness (17:35.554)

Mike Jackness (17:39.282)
No. But there's a reason why the answer is no. I mean, again, it's in that don't do to others what you don't want done to yourself, right? So like, I wouldn't want to do that job. I don't like it when people do this to me. Like, I mean, I had someone, I mean, I was ready to strangle them, called me like the day after we got back from Asia and I have like, do not disturb on.

DJ (17:49.68)

Mike Jackness (18:02.006)
But like if they call a second time, it rings through. And so like the guy like called me, then he called my wife, like I don't know how he got her number, and then he called me again, then he called her again, then he called me again, and I finally picked up the phone because I thought that like a building was on fire somewhere and it was a guy like trying to like sell me.

Like some software in the industry and like, and then he just called again this morning. Like I'll never, I mean, there's zero percent chance I'll ever do business with this company. Um, I almost want to like talk about on a podcast. I'll bite my tongue, but like, no, I don't want to hire someone to do that. Cause like, I don't want anyone doing this type of thing to me. Like I feel like, you know, our job as Ecom crew is to do a good job with our podcasts and our content and want people to come to us to place ads. And so we do it that way. We are not a sales company. Like we don't.

You know, if we had a company that was what we had to do, that would be different. You know, I can see hiring a salesperson, but I would direct them to operate in a manner in which I would feel comfortable, right? Because I think that there's annoying salespeople.

DJ (18:45.827)

DJ (19:00.745)
I think that's being the nice guy part of you though, because like making cold calls and reaching out and selling ads is almost always going to result in a way higher ad spot cost than if let the people come to us. Like there's a reason why sales teams exist and I feel like that's where part of the nice guy comes in. I'm the same way. I wouldn't put it on somebody like Ben because I think it's a bad way to do sales. I would feel bad putting it on him because, oh, this is going to be tough, like making cold calls. That's tough.

Mike Jackness (19:14.261)

DJ (19:30.373)
And I wouldn't want to do it. And you know, I would feel some hesitancy. Give me it.

Mike Jackness (19:32.15)
I mean, the way that I would handle this is I would be hiring a salesperson, right? Like that's their job. Like they know what they're getting themselves into on day one. Like, I mean, again, you want to compliment yourself. You want to go out and hire the best. Like I don't know if that's the man. I don't think he would be the best salesperson. He'd probably be miserable at it. Like that's not like his forte. Like a salesperson is a great example because like it's a.

DJ (19:39.694)

Mike Jackness (19:58.418)
A good salesperson's like a needle in a haystack. They are really hard to find. So I would go look for that person to go do that job and try to compensate them fairly for it. And I would not feel bad delegating it to them because that's what their job is.

DJ (20:09.533)
Yeah. To me, that feels like that's where the nice guy is losing. Yeah. And that's part of this whole internal debate, like, oh, how much to delegate and how nice to be. I think about one other example from my last company,, we used to exhibit at the Vancouver Boat Show.

Mike Jackness (20:15.362)

Mike Jackness (20:20.508)

DJ (20:30.689)
every year and had two full-time employees and I always felt that if I say to Linda and Mark you guys you guys go set up this booth and you handle everything and just I'll show up on the day of the show and you have everything set up. I felt so bad to ask them to do that instead I would go and I would sit down at the BC place for 12 hours setting everything up just because I felt too bad to delegate it to them and I think that's again another case of

Mike Jackness (20:54.879)

DJ (20:57.273)
being nice loses because my time was way better spent doing something else, but I just

Mike Jackness (21:01.134)
I mean, I would just show up with donuts and coffee and you know, bake for Frickin' Dislator kind of thing. So yeah, I wouldn't feel bad about doing that. I mean.

I don't know. Those are the types of things I wouldn't feel bad about. It's like go set up the booth. I'm paying you to do it. And if I was an employee, I actually did that at my old job. That was way outside my job description, but I set up a booth before. It was like they needed someone. They were short. I was like, I'll go do it. I don't care. I'll go down to DC and to the convention center and set it up. I mean, I was just like, whatever, I'll go do it. Like it needs to get done. So, but.

I realize that not everyone's that way. There was lots of people probably like, well that's not what I do. Like I'm a sales guy. I'm not gonna go set up the booth.

DJ (21:43.017)
Okay, by the way, running a trade show booth is the absolute most miserable five to seven days of your life that you can possibly spend.

Mike Jackness (21:48.146)
Oh, it's horrible. It's like, I hope that I don't end up in a situation where I have to do that again. It's, it is, yeah, just standing there talking to people, coming by is, it's not easy. It really is not easy.

DJ (22:02.541)
Well, it'd be fine if it was for one or two hours a day, but most of these shows are like 10 hours a day.

Mike Jackness (22:07.443)
Yeah, it's tough.

DJ (22:10.345)
I seen a little side note, I seen Greg Mercer at where was it? At the Amazon's conference down in Seattle. And I thought, wow, he's made it big, but he's still man in the booth and good on him. All right. Let's talk about a couple of the other kind of cons that you've experienced. Quote unquote, being a solopreneur. And you don't like that word because you have one full-time employee, but you've gone from 22 to one. So for all intents and purposes, like.

Mike Jackness (22:20.91)
still man a booth. Yup.

DJ (22:40.025)
you've gone from lots to nothing. So a couple of other pros and cons that you've experienced.

Mike Jackness (22:47.23)
Yeah, I mean, I think it is a life cycle thing. I mean, for right now, like the biggest pro for me is I'm not sitting in meetings like all day long. You know, I just it's it had become frustrating. You're having in my head or having actually on paper like what I wanted to accomplish in a quarter and seeing it not get done over and over again, sitting in meetings, talking about it and then not having the results that I wanted. And

You know, I think again, because I'm nice, it's like, how do you push on someone or criticize them or try to get better work out of them? Especially when like the narrative is like, you're asking us to do too much and

It was kind of like, you know, and so like you're over here thinking like you're not getting anywhere near enough done. This doesn't look as good as I would like it to. And they were complaining the other direction. So yeah, not having to send those meetings where I felt like it was sucking the soul out of me. Like, uh, cause I don't mind sending it means I'm talking to people. If I see stuff getting done, like, you know, if I put an hour of my time into something and they go off and do 10 hours with the great work from my hour of investment, I'll do that all day long. As long as I can stay awake, I will, uh, I will do that.

I felt like I was putting an hour of my time in and getting like almost negative return in a lot of ways. And so that was frustrating. And so, you know, and

You know, and I think that, you know, one of the other pros is, uh, you know, I've been able to get my hands dirty and be able to, to do a lot of the stuff now, which I enjoy. Like I'm a tinker. I'm, I'm the guy that like goes and gets stuff done. I really enjoy it. And it helps, I think with the Ecom crew, especially where if I'm the one doing it, then I have stuff to talk about, uh, to this community, which is, has been fun. Like the last several months, especially with our premium community, we've been kind of, um,

DJ (24:18.274)

Mike Jackness (24:39.374)
you know, just showing some of the things that I've been working on and it feels cool because like I feel like then I'm helping them, right, which is one of the reasons we started all this. And so it's been it's been refreshing.

DJ (24:53.281)
way, another plug for Econ Crew Premium. We're going shifting to a weekly open office hour schedule or Mike's going to share one of these things he's doing every week with our premium community. There's a plug and I think there will be a mid-roll plug as well. For those listening, you're going to get two plugs for Econ Crew Premium in this podcast.

Mike Jackness (25:12.706)
could roll that right now with the magic of editing.

DJ (25:15.537)
Yeah, we could. On that note as well, like you mentioned that you enjoy doing these things. The other thing is that I'm sure you're doing it way better than a bunch of interns. And really, I mean, both of us for our businesses, we're essentially hiring interns. Maybe they have two or three years experience. They're all in their 20s. They're interns for the most part. They're not coming in with 15 years of experience.

Mike Jackness (25:36.534)

Mike Jackness (25:44.37)
Yeah, I mean, I'm not trying to put down a disparage that you people that were doing this stuff before, but yeah, I do think I am doing a bit with the stuff that I've been working on. I do think I'm doing a better job with it. But there's probably other reasons besides just the fact that I'm necessarily better at it than them. I think, you know, when it's when it's yours versus, you know, if you're just an employee, like I care more about it because it's like my business. And

I also have the disadvantage, if you want to call it that, of being obsessive with whatever I'm working on. And so yeah, whatever I get involved in something, whatever I'm working on, it's like an obsession level. And so where things are going to be a little bit difficult, like I'm starting to get to a point now where I'm trying to work on the next thing because I want to work on listing optimization stuff now. And I'm going to have to pass some of this stuff off, the maintenance stuff to somebody else.

Um, he was going to have a lot of other things already on their plate. It won't be their only task. And so, um, you know, can it, can the baton be passed and have that same level of scrutiny over, over those other things remains to be seen.

DJ (26:59.825)
So what are you passing off like the actual, the implementation of the optimization? So you've done the research and everything, you've kind of figured out, okay, this is, the title needs to go from this to that, or the actual research.

Mike Jackness (27:10.934)
Well, this is PPC specifically I'm talking about right now. So, yeah, I'm actually not so sure I'm going to pass off the listing optimization stuff. I think that was probably one of the big fails in general. I think that, you know, is a, I mean, obviously at some point you probably, you get to a size where you need someone that's doing that because like you can't be doing that, you know, at a hundred million dollar company. But that job should be reserved for like the best of the best out there and not.

DJ (27:38.916)

Mike Jackness (27:41.242)
a one or two year experienced person half a world away. Again, it did a good job, but I always use this example of the Kentucky Derby thing, where it's just like the horse that wins gets the million dollars, the second place horse gets a half a million. It didn't run half as fast, it ran a nose faster or half a length faster. And so you gotta be elite with what you're doing and not just good or good or even great. It's gotta be elite.

DJ (27:45.1)

DJ (28:09.754)

Yeah, yeah. I mean, you're so right with like, the quality difference, not just between you and any employee, but it's the employee who has 10 years of experience versus the one that you have trained from the ground up. And sometimes as entrepreneurs, we're able to raise that person over a couple of years to go from totally green to all of a sudden being like,

Mike Jackness Jr. over a couple years, but more often than not, it's just you need to put the reps in and that takes 10 years of just doing it.

Mike Jackness (28:45.514)
Yeah. If I was going to boil it down to like one sentence or maybe a couple of sentences or whatever, it's the difference between like following a procedure step by step, right? And like trying to get that done versus like being the one that like wrote the procedure to begin with. Like, and you know, it's just when you're when you're right when you're following the procedure step by step, you're like you're just trying to like follow instructions

DJ (28:57.787)

DJ (29:04.159)
Mm-hmm. Yeah.

Mike Jackness (29:14.262)
when I would do it, there's so much nuance. You can't put that in the procedure. The nuance just can't be even documented anyway. And so, yeah, I think that that's probably the difference. Again, they did a good job. I look at our stuff and it's not like we have a bunch of bucket of bolts. It just isn't the elite stuff that need to be done in those instances.

DJ (29:17.122)
Uh-huh. Yup.

DJ (29:40.693)
Yeah, I mean the thing I always think about too is so we hired a brand manager for our crafts brand And comparing her level of quality to a lot of my guys even that I have in my in my own brands Knowing that nuance and just figuring it out and just being able to figure out and do a better job than I can There is such a big gap there and I don't know if it's necessarily western versus

Eastern just mind difference, or if it's a level of compensation difference, if it's a level of experience difference, I don't know what it is, but I definitely feel like with her, the brand manager, like, man, she was doing a better job than I could do most of the time. And that was one of the rare cases where I actually felt better handing it off to her rather than having me do it. Even if I had all the time in the world, I'd still want her to do it rather than me just because she would ultimately do a better job than I could.

Mike Jackness (30:36.698)
Mm-hmm. Yeah.

DJ (30:40.637)
Okay, so those are the pros, couple of the cons to wrap up here.

Mike Jackness (30:47.338)
Yeah, I mean, some days you just don't want to do all that work, right? It'd be nice to just have someone that was doing those things so you can go focus on the visionary stuff again. I mean, for the short term, it's been good, right? But like, I mean, the reality is I can already see a bottleneck that's going to come over the next year. But I mean, the reality is that I'm in a very unique situation. I mean, my goal is to sell this business after another year.

Right. And so, um, and, uh, and then do another e-commerce business that I have a lot of interest in doing, but I'm in this one thing mode. I'm in, I want to sell the business mode. And so keeping expenses to an absolute minimum, uh, while doing that, uh, it was going to have, is going to have some cons, which one of those things is that I had to go do all the work. And so like, I've really like,

I tell you, man, I've really felt that this last week, because I've been useless. I haven't gotten anything done of any significance this entire week. I mean, we're recording here on a Friday, this episode of the Live on Monday. I mean, it's been the least productive week I can remember in recent history. And there's been times in the past where this has happened, when I had a team of 20 people, and all the work was still getting done. And it was almost transparent. That it would, you know, now…

It's been a problem. Like I mean, it's definitely, and it's really, like I said, it's kind of got me feeling bad about myself right this minute because like I didn't get anything done this week. I wanted to get a bunch of stuff done this week. I know there has to get done, but I'm just like absolutely exhausted and can't think clearly. And so that's definitely a huge con. And

DJ (32:29.881)
Basically, if Mike ends up in a hospital bed for two weeks, the business kind of stops, maybe not stops running for two weeks, but it's definitely not growing.

Mike Jackness (32:33.226)
Yeah. Yeah, work.

It suffers. Yeah, versus in the past, you know, we were, you know, even though we might not have been doing things at the elite level I was talking about, like we were still growing, you know, it's like, it wasn't, you know, maybe I'm overly critical with this stuff, but we still grew every year. And so, you know, even like the business we just sold, I mean, it grew quite a bit and we did quite well to be able to have a sale like we did.

And that team did a fantastic job. But yeah, I mean, it's just, uh, it's tough. And so I would say that's probably the biggest con right now. Um, you know, top of mind, especially it's like, it's an interesting day to ask that question because I can really feel it right now.

DJ (33:27.245)
Interesting. The other thing we had kind of talked about too is when we were kind of brainstorming, before we got on the call here, one of the cons, and one of the cons I would feel is that inability to kind of grow as a leader. And I, over the last two or three years, I've kind of taken this on as a personal challenge. Like I want to grow as a leader and as a father, because there's a big crossover there between being a good boss slash manager and being a good father.

Mike Jackness (33:44.203)

DJ (33:55.937)
And so I've really taken this whole leadership thing a little bit more seriously than I have in the past when I had nobody under me. You didn't need to be accountable to anybody. So I've kind of taken that on as, okay, every year I want to try to grow and just be a little bit better leader slash manager. And if you have nobody, that's really tough to grow as a manager slash leader. So how much have you felt that?

Mike Jackness (34:18.858)
It's an interesting question. For right now, this is just a welcome change. I need to mentally detox and separate myself from it. If you were asking me a question, it does feel bad from that perspective, but at the exact moment, in this exact moment in time, it's just a welcome change. I was really fatigued with the situation we were in. I would say looking back, because I've done a lot of reflection on this, I've learned…

DJ (34:24.185)

Mike Jackness (34:45.798)
how history repeats itself. Right, and so with the other company that we had before this, we actually got, we had 66 people at our peak. And I've really kind of just learned about, you know, when the next thing, when it happens again, because I'm confident that it will, like, I mean, I end up in the same situation over and over again. Like I…

DJ (35:09.433)
Seven year cycle.

Mike Jackness (35:10.55)
I said I have a knack for building a business and getting it to a certain size. And when it ends up happening is then I really want to put the feel on it. Right. It's like, it's like doubling down is not enough. Let's quadruple down. Like this thing's only got so much time left and you know, it's the same thought process. Uh, I think I'm going to, to refrain from doing that. Right. Cause like when we had six or seven person team, uh, here, same thing in the other business felt like family.

DJ (35:18.702)

Mike Jackness (35:38.322)
really highly productive work out of our employees, really enjoyed working with them, coming to work, doing everything. But then when you like try to go from seven to 20 in one year, like the inevitable kind of happens. And so I think that, you know, being, you know, curbing the entrepreneurial spirit of growing and hitting that home run and

DJ (35:48.177)

Mike Jackness (36:02.278)
trying to think a little bit longer term instead of trying to do it all in one year, maybe do it over three or five years or whatever and just build like a much more solid thing. Now, it doesn't guarantee anything, but I think what ends up happening when you're a smaller team, you're much more selective, right? I mean, it's just like for every possible such reason, it's like A, like money is much more tight in the beginning. It's like you've got to be really careful about who you hire. And the next person you hire like…

DJ (36:05.905)

Mike Jackness (36:31.41)
You really want them to gel well with the other person and like also again, money's still tight and like this thing kind of starts, you know, keeps happening. But then you like, when you get to a certain size, like you need a manager to like manage those other people, you know, and, uh, and then you're like, okay, well now that I have them, like I have this need, I have to grow because I put this other layer of expenses in that's just completely overhead. You know, it's like the other employees that you've hired up to that point are like all in that ROI bucket. Like, but now you have like this. This.

DJ (36:42.865)

Mike Jackness (37:01.346)
completely overhead person and like this need to continue to grow, I think I will treat that intersection way differently.

DJ (37:08.817)
Huh, that's a really interesting way that you phrase that. How every employee has an ROI until you start adding layers of management and who don't have direct ROI. Really interesting way to think of it. I've never really thought of it either. That way, how that middle management really adds nothing to actual output, it's simply keeping the machine running.

Mike Jackness (37:26.733)

Mike Jackness (37:30.942)
Yeah. And that was why, again, I was thinking the job that I had, I was an IT guy at this company I was at. I looked at the sales guy that was sales people that were on the team. Talk about direct ROI. I mean, that was a sales organization, right? So like you hire a salesperson for 100K a year, they need to be bringing a million dollars a year in sales. And like you can very easily evaluate their worth, right? Versus…

DJ (37:56.373)

Mike Jackness (37:58.666)
the director of IT or the HR director or the accounting department or any of those types of things. Then we eventually hired a director of operations, a VP of operations who was over all of that. That entire bucket was just like…

DJ (38:02.01)
We hope.

Mike Jackness (38:22.042)
really tough to stand and then I was, because I was on the executive team, I would look at the P&L and was a part of these conversations and really kind of got out appreciation for this from the inside until I hire my first C level like person in that regard. I didn't really think about that. And I mean, you can even boil this down to like in e-commerce, like the guy who was shipping packages in the warehouse, like he has an ROI, right? Cause like you can think about it transactionally, right? Or the…

DJ (38:44.842)
Oh yeah, for sure.

Mike Jackness (38:47.81)
you hire someone for marketing, and they have a direct ROI. You can look at their performance, like how many sales you can track their performance. And so, yeah, until we hired our COO, all of a sudden it's just like, holy crap, that is a big number that just got added to our payroll, and we need to justify having her by having her manage more people, or doing more things. And again, same pattern that I've seen in the past, where…

You get disconnected more from the team. You're growing way quicker. You lose kind of a little bit of touch from culture and stuff. And like people that have been able to pull this off, uh, you know, I've been around a lot of them now and it's, it's a really impressive ability in my, in my opinion.

DJ (39:33.177)
Well said. So, maybe the last question to wrap up, really applicable to what we've been talking about. How was the Vegas spear?

Mike Jackness (39:42.134)
Oh man, it was freaking amazing. Oh wow, dude, what an experience. Highly recommended by anybody that can come to town, either whether to go there to see Postcard from Earth or U2 or whoever's gonna be in there. It's definitely like a holy beep kind of moment. It really is like nothing I've ever experienced, like anyone's ever experienced.

It's the only one in the world. I think they're trying to build some more, but it's the future. You're definitely in the future.

DJ (40:16.109)
So new person coming to Vegas for the first time, where does it rank in the list of must-sees? Like, is it the number one thing that you must see in Vegas or is it like number three or four?

Mike Jackness (40:29.73)
I mean, that's right. That's right, baby. You know, it's interesting you say that because I don't think of it as a Vegas thing because it doesn't scream Vegas as much as the Bellagio fountains or something where to me that's iconic Vegas. This is just one of these things where it could be anywhere in the world. Vegas attracts these types of things.

DJ (40:31.553)
Well obviously the Vegas nights are number one, but okay number two.

DJ (40:46.263)

Mike Jackness (40:56.262)
It is one of the neatest things I've ever seen in my life. It really is. It's hard to like rank it in terms of Vegas. It's an expensive thing. Like, I mean, not everyone's gonna be able to afford to go to the Sphere. I mean, the tickets are kind of astronomically expensive. Well, it's interesting. We actually got our tickets, $50 out of your mind, we got our tickets for 300. But.

DJ (41:08.365)
Like how much astronomical? Like 50 bucks astronomical or?

Mike Jackness (41:18.614)
The domain like they're all in demand pricing and then demand like now that people are talking about demands like higher They're they're going for fifteen hundred dollars a seat now. It's crazy Yeah, it's really expensive and just to go see the movie the postcard movie like the average tickets $170 just to go see Just to go sit there for like an hour and watch this like movie Which we haven't you know

DJ (41:22.055)
Oh, oh…

DJ (41:27.406)
Oh no.

DJ (41:40.593)
170 US to like 3000 Canadian.

Mike Jackness (41:42.73)
It's expensive. It's like, I don't understand how this many people have this much money. Like you can say the same thing about so many things in this city nowadays. I mean, like the food's gone this way. Formula One's like just stupid. Like, I mean, it's $20,000 for like to go see Formula One or whatever for like, you know, some of the better seats and stuff. There's, you know, six figure packages available. To go see a freaking Raiders game here is $1,000 a ticket.

DJ (41:47.573)
Yeah, yep. Mm-hmm.

Mike Jackness (42:09.314)
I mean, I don't understand, like you're talking about the Knights, the Knights are averaging a couple hundred dollars a ticket to go see a hockey game. I mean, there's 80 of those a year to go see here, or 40 of them here. But yeah, I don't I don't quite get it. Like it's kind of crazy. I mean, we go do a lot of stuff, but like this is all we spend our money on. Like I'm an experienced guy. But yeah, the sphere was in the epic category. The last 20 minutes of the show.

Was just like your mouth like it's just open the entire time jaw on the floor. Yeah, it's Oh, yeah, dude, it's michelle actually put it perfectly let me put it let me michelle actually I mean, she's so good at articulating this stuff. Sometimes she's like it's like wearing the vr goggles without the vr goggles Because it's like completely like you're completely immersed in this thing and I was like that is the perfect way to put it because it's exactly what it is it'd be like

DJ (42:39.117)
Really, so it's more than like an IMAX. That's like I imagine it's a curved IMAX

DJ (42:55.11)
Hahaha, nice.

Mike Jackness (43:02.486)
like having a VR headset on you, but like it's that expansive. Like, I mean, it's wild. I mean, it really is just, it's so HD that it looks real. I mean, the stuff that they project on the screen, like there was one moment where they projected the skyline of Las Vegas up there with like a time lapse. It was like, I think it might've been like a real camera that was happening outside that moment.

But regardless, it looked like you were just standing on the strip, like looking out at the strip and you couldn't tell the difference. It was indistinguishable. That's how clear it was. It was wild. I mean, it's unbelievable. It really is. It's hard to explain. It's unbelievable to be the only word I could I could use for it. If I had to summarize India in one word, I would say chaos. And if I would say had to summarize the sphere, I would say unbelievable.

DJ (43:34.193)
Thanks for watching guys.

DJ (43:51.185)
Ha ha

DJ (43:55.724)
Okay, so check it out if you got the $1,500 bucks to go watch U2.

Mike Jackness (43:59.479)
Yeah. Be good my friend!

DJ (44:03.766)
Alright, you too.


Michael Jackness

Michael started his first business when he was 18 and is a serial entrepreneur. He got his start in the online world way back in 2004 as an affiliate marketer. From there he grew as an SEO expert and has transitioned into ecommerce, running several sites that bring in a total of 7-figures of revenue each year.

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