3 super successful Millennial cofounders on how to be a manager when you’ve never been managed

Aleen Kuperman, Jordana Abraham, and Samantha Fishbein (aka the Betches Media cofounders) have a story that sounds like it was ripped straight from a new hit television series targeting college-aged women- but one that secretly all the guys love, too. The three entrepreneurs grew up near each other, all went to Cornell for undergrad and ended up living together senior year, which is how “Betches Love This Site” was born. Picture this: three seniors savoring the last days of college while creating something fun during their free time. The site went “viral” thanks to Facebook. After the three girls turned their tassels, they headed back to their family homes, but the college grads knew they had something worth pursuing.

Now, Kuperman, Fishbein, and Abraham hold the titles of CEO, COO, and Chief Content Officer, respectively. The Betches brand claims a successful content website, a suite of nine podcasts, several successful Instagram accounts, an online shop, and three books written together by the co-founders. Though none of them have much experience being managed outside of a few college internships, these women manage a team of 20 full-time employees.

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The co-founders shared their story at an event for their latest book, “When’s Happy Hour? Work Hard So You Can Hardly Work.” Ladders captured their advice on how to be a boss (even if you barely ever had one and definitely never went to business school).

Stay in control of your brand

In 2014, Betches launched Shop Betches, an online retailer that offers very on-brand products to dedicated fans. Before Shop Betches, the co-founders tried to crack into the e-commerce world by letting others handle this aspect of the business. This shop wasn’t successful because the girls relied on e-commerce experts, not Betches experts, to create this branch of their business.

“When we saw what was being put out there it was not something we were proud to attach our names to, therefore it didn’t really do very well,” Abraham said

Now that Betches controls all aspects of Shop Betches, not only are they proud of the platform, but have also seen much greater success with it.

Take requests for raises seriously

The Betches founders maintain good relationships with their employees in multiple ways, one being that they take requests for raises very seriously. The cofounders give each request equal consideration, but that doesn’t mean that any request will get approved. Abraham mentioned that she appreciates when employees come with research about the industry, their position, and their past work. In contrast, bringing up reasons from your personal life, like wanting to move into a new apartment, isn’t going to convince any of the cofounders that you should get a raise.

“Hard facts that show how valuable you are to the company…make us want to compensate the person because they’ve made a really good case for themselves,” Abraham said.

Being a good boss is a constant learning experience

Betches has grown from a group of three to a staff of 20 full-time employees as well as many freelancers. None of the girls were trained in school to manage employees, but Fishbein said that the real-life experiences she faces every day help her grow as a manager more than any “theoretical” learning. When problems arise, Fishbein focuses on using techniques that she’s tried in the past, or pivoting her approach if something didn’t work previously.

“It’s really about being mindful, trying to learn on the job and being very present with what’s happening by tackling one thing at a time,” Fishbein said.

Learn how to deal with different personalities

While the Betches leaders don’t have too much experience being managed by different bosses, they know well the delights and struggles that come with having a multitude of personalities in the office.

“Learning how to deal with different personalities is just a fact of life,” Fishbein said.

And to employees, Fishbein urges you to remember that your boss is only human. “Realize that this person is literally just a person and what they’re doing is not personal, it’s just their own s–t that they’re taking out on you.”

Stay self-aware about your strengths and shortcomings

The only way to become and remain a good boss is to constantly be self-aware.

“Our employees are so, so important to the company,” Kuperman said. “They are the reason why it grows and why we add another podcast or another Instagram account.”

When an employee feels strongly about a new idea, the cofounders allow them to explore it. Self-awareness comes in handy when a boss needs to realize that just because he or she is older and more experienced, they’re not necessarily more skilled at a certain task.

“We acknowledge that and we try to always constantly improve our own ways and our own skills,” Kuperman said. “We try to encourage that in our employees as well.”

Network early on- even if you’re afraid of it

“We didn’t know anyone when we were coming up,” Kemper said. “We were not well-connected, our parents were not well-connected.”

Instead of accepting the fact that they had no friends in the media industry, the CEO wishes the three of them had been a little more outgoing in their early days. Instead of being “stuck together,” Kemper thinks it would’ve been very beneficial to attend networking events, reached out to people and been “a little bit more vulnerable.”

As she said, “the stakes are low.”

Ask for help when you need it

Just because the girls started with no media connections and created a huge multimedia success doesn’t mean that they think they know it all.

“In the beginning we were immature and thought we knew everything,” Kuperman said.

As the brand and cofounders matured together, they realized that they don’t have the answers to everything.

“Ask people who know more than you or hire people who know better than you,” Kuperman said. “That is the most important thing.”

But also realize that you can figure some stuff out on your own

Most anyone who is successful will tell you not to be afraid to ask for help. While it’s sound advice, the three media moguls have a new twist on this classic piece of advice.

“There were a lot of people, especially older guys, who thought, ‘we can help these women or these young girls and make them pay for XYZ,’” Kuperman said. “Sometimes we believed them and paid for whatever it was and then we realized every single step of the way that actually we don’t need their help…we can figure it out on our own…that took us a long time to figure out but it was an amazing revelation.”

Money-hungry people will prey on a great idea, so it’s important to find support that you can trust with your brand, company, and money.

Stay dedicated to you mission

In addition to controlling your brand, the Betches cofounders agree that its equally important to stay true to your mission.

“What we’re dedicated to is the mission of giving young women a place to show that they’re understood and somewhere to relate to,” Fishbein said.

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