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Navigating the Hiring Landscape with Barrett O’Neill of Bold SEO

As a small business owner or hiring manager, it can be tricky to build your team. Is it best to hire offshore talent or hire locally? What cost structure and compensation plans work best?
I recently sat down with Barrett O’Neill of Bold SEO. Barrett's journey into hiring has been multifaceted, spanning from overseas talent acquisition through his company Brightline Social to onshore hiring for his storage and logistics company in the Boston area.
In this episode, we delved into the nuances of hiring locally and internationally, uncovering the benefits and challenges of each approach.
Listen to the full episode, or keep reading for the top insights from Barrett.

What advice do you have for making your first hires for a small business?

Barrett’s first hires for his small storage business were college students. He hired them on a commission basis to hang flyers for his business and market his company on campus.
This is a common tactic many small businesses use because the overhead is cheap and students are always looking for jobs.
However, a college student might hang flyers for a few hours but quickly lose motivation because they aren’t being paid enough to be devoted to the task.
Many people underestimate the value of paying employees directly for their work, relying too heavily on commission-based incentives.
Instead, paying students a guaranteed hourly rate can create a mutual sense of obligation—The employer owes you money, and you owe them work in exchange. This model encourages consistent, reliable performance.
A good hiring manager or small business owner needs to think about more than how hiring someone affects the business’ cost structure. Instead, consider how hiring someone and paying them significantly for their work can impact the quality of work and reliability you get in return.
A hardworking, reliable employee can go a long way to help you budget your life and your time.

When is it best to hire someone Onshore vs. Overseas?

The decision between onshore and offshore hiring depends on the nature of the work.
For back-end tasks, such as development and technical roles, offshore hiring can be highly effective. This is especially true for regions like Eastern Europe that are known for strong technical talent in the software realm.
Onshore hiring is often more suitable for front-end roles like social media content creation that require creativity, charisma, and native English proficiency.
Customer-facing roles should prioritize native English speakers to align with American consumers expectations when calling a company. This is also true when hiring a copywriter where english proficiency is required.
However, rather than simply focusing on whether to hire stateside vs. overseas, Barrett takes a different perspective.
Consider: Can they perform the work? Do they have a mind for the business? Can they deliver results and then translate those results for your customers? Can they give your customers a pleasant experience?
These considerations will help you hire talent that can deliver meaningful results aligned with your company goals.

How does a hiring plan work for an agency?

A robust hiring plan for an agency involves two key aspects.
First, as the agency grows, it must hire team members to manage the increasing workload. Unlike e-commerce, where growth can be more gradual, an agency must scale its workforce to handle increased client accounts and sales call volume.
The second aspect is understanding when the current cost structure is about to break. This requires a deep understanding of the agency's capabilities, customer expectations, and key performance indicators (KPIs) for each position.
Sometimes, it is more effective to give pay increases to existing employees to take on additional responsibilities than hiring additional employees to expand the team.
However, adding more employees can act as insurance against operational risks, such as key personnel leaving the company. Avoid “key man risk,” which is when your company is overly exposed to risk by one employee.
An organization might have key man risk if the office manager is the only one who knows clients’ phone numbers. The entire company is at risk if they leave without transferring this knowledge to someone else. Things happen, and people leave, so you need insurance against this.
To minimize key man risk, centralize knowledge and documentation. Ensure that no single employee holds critical information solely in their personal domain. Use centralized systems to manage client information, share knowledge across the team, and involve multiple team members in critical processes.

What are the best compensation plans for small businesses?

There are countless different compensation plans hiring managers can choose from.
For Barrett, simplicity and instant gratification are keys to successful compensation plans.
At Bold SEO, all employees receive a salary, and salespeople earn 50% of the first month's client retention fee as a commission. This structure immediately rewards their efforts, keeping them motivated and engaged. It also ensures that they aren’t selling from a place of desperation, because desperation never sells.
The goal is to balance short-term commissions with long-term benefits, ensuring that employees are motivated to perform well and stay with the company and that the company benefits over the long term.
Consider how to position the company to win and get people paid as fast as possible. If you can do that and give people a product or service they can sell well, they will be happy, and you'll achieve success.


Need help hiring top talent for your team today? Check out Constant Hire for an affordable recruiting option.