5 Things To Do Before Hiring An Assistant For Your Creative Business
Here’s the deal… I’ve tried to do this before and it totally failed. I’m writing this post to hopefully save you not only your precious time, but money as well.
Have you been thinking about hiring your first Virtual Assistant to help you with your business? Chances are if you have hired someone in the past (and it didn’t work out), it’s because you didn’t follow the necessary steps to ensure you not only find your perfect match but that you even know what you need help with in the first place.
The past few weeks have been a complete whirlwind as there have been some big shifts happening with things here at Emma Rose Company including the hire of my very first assistant for my creative business!
Delegating is something I’ve always been pretty good at, especially on my wedding day. You should have seen my lists for the people in my life! While it may have appeared to be a little over the top, when I got married I wanted to ensure that I enjoyed my day. I knew there would be plenty of people to help and that it was up to me to utilize those people in my life on our big day. I didn’t miss a beat and had tasks for everyone. No one had to even ask me what I needed all day because it was all laid out for them in advance. My wedding photographer called me Type A with a twist. I am super organized, but I’m also really chill. It’s a good combination I’ve found as a business owner! I don’t sweat the small stuff but you better believe I’m organized!
As my business has grown, I have quickly realized how important it is for me to build a team. And I don’t just mean hiring some random person from the Internet to help me with my newsletter (been there, done that). I knew it was time to find my person. I was bound and determined to find someone who could love my business almost as much as I do.
If you’re at a place where you’re feeling overwhelmed with running your own business or thinking that maybe it’s time to bring someone on your team, I want to provide a few tips to navigate you through the process and how to build a team that is not only effective but brings you so much joy every day.
1. Identify WHY you need an assistant.
This seems pretty obvious, but take it from me when I first tried to outsource, I never got down to the nitty-gritty on WHY I even needed one in the first place. Yes, I said out loud, “I need help!” but that’s about as far as it got. This part needs some serious thought put forth. Do you have enough tasks to even keep a virtual assistant busy? What other things can YOU be doing to make it worth it to you? For me, the answer was YES. I spent so many hours on tedious tasks that took me away from actually growing my business. Maybe it’s not worth paying someone to do those repetitive tasks in your business if you don’t have anything else to do with your time or you’ll decide it is. Make sure you’ve thought this through before hiring.
2. Figuring out your systems and what work needs to be done.
Even the most amazing virtual assistant will need a workflow or they’ll never do the work exactly the way you want it to be done. My very BEST advice is to have your systems in place before you hire someone.
I personally use Honeybook and Trello for my primary business systems. Honeybook is what I use to keep track of all my projects with timelines, invoices, contracts, templates and questionnaires. This is also where I communicate with my clients. Trello is where I keep all my SYSTEMS and brain dump sessions. Trello is how I work closely every day with my assistant to make sure we’re organized and always in communication. My absolute FAVORITE Trello boards are set up to help me streamline my blogging, weddings, portraits, newsletter, launches, website clients and much more! I even have a board for my own family and my Husband and we LOVE it!
I wrote a post recently on the top 3 tools I use in my business and both Honeybook and Trello are on that list, you can read the post right here!
Along with setting up your own SYSTEMS, you’ll want to have a clear training path. Nothing has taught me more about my own systems and business until I had to train someone on what I do. It not only made me realize how much I actually do for my business, but all the ways that I was ready to pass off many of the tasks that hold me up at the computer that I really don’t need to be doing.
The best training advice I have is to create VIDEOS. In Trello we have a #SQUAD board and one of the lists in the board includes all the training videos I’ve made for my assistant. Not only does she always have quick access to these videos, but if I ever add anyone else to my team, I have a solid foundation to bring someone on with the resources I created in the beginning. It was a lot of work, but 100% worth it and has saved us both so much time! Instead of emailing me with a simple question, my assistant can reference the videos for a refresher. Of course she will have questions, but I’ve found since training this way, there aren’t nearly as many questions as I expected there to be! She knows my systems and workflows and if she’s stuck she has somewhere to go before emailing me.
3. Be clear in your expectations.
Don’t hire someone on a whim and hope they figure out what you need. You need to first figure out what your requirements are and you’ll want to find the right person to fit those requirements. I knew I needed someone to help me at LEAST 6 hours per week, sometimes 8-10 depending on the week. I needed someone who doesn’t already have a full time job because I was looking for someone to grow WITH me. My success is my assistant's success. The more money I make, the more I’m able to give bonuses, increase pay, and build incentives. The bottom line in my decision was just that, increasing my bottom line. One of the forces in hiring was that I got out of my studio lease which I spent nearly $900 per month when the bills were said and done, sometimes more. I've reinvested some of that rent money into something that will actually help me grow, not hinder that growth.
The times I hired out in the past failed because I didn't set expectations. I hired people to help me with little tasks like Pinterest and some did a great job but the one who didn't took my money and pretty much fell off the radar, not finishing the job. I blame myself for that one because I didn't do my part. I didn't properly communicate my expectations and exactly what I needed. I didn't know how to be in charge the way that I do now.
4. Don’t make it easy.
Here’s what I did and what I truly feel made ALL the difference when it came to my own hiring experience. I didn’t make it easy. Before finding my amazing assistant, I simply threw words out to Facebook groups hoping someone would want to be my VA. I cringe now that I ever did that! This time looked a whole lot different for me! Instead of blasting on social media, “I NEED HELP”, I came up with a plan. I set up a page on my website that gave a summary of exactly what I needed, expectations, and then a form at the bottom to complete.
Why did I set up a form/questionnaire?
I set it up because I wanted to hire someone who took initiative and had to do a little work to apply to join my team. It wasn’t HARD by any means, but it took extra time and out of the 75 inquiries I received for the position, 15 filled out the form and I interviewed 12. I tell you those numbers because it shows you how quickly I was able to IMMEDIATELY weed out 60 people. I received so many, “I’m interested!” or “Send me more info!” but only 15 actually went through the page I set up and filled out the form. Interviewing 12 people was still a lot and I was beyond impressed with every single person I spoke to but there was one that took me by the heart strings and told me that she was my match! Her name is Dean, and she’s amazing.
In just a few weeks we’ve become fast friends, even if it’s from afar. She gets me, gets my business, listens, learns, and is so much fun to work with. She wants all the things I want for this little love child of mine, Emma Rose Company. I've been through a lot in my life and my business. I didn't want to just hire someone to help me, I wanted to hire someone who was as invested as I am. I wanted someone who is more than a paycheck at the end of the week but someone I depend on, love, and care for deeply. I'm finding that with Dean and I've never even met her in person yet. But okay, I better stop talking about how GREAT she is, because you might try to steal her from me! jkjkjk.
5. And lastly, don't settle.
If you are anything like me, you feel e v e r y t h i n g. I've had to learn over the years that there's a time and a place to feel all the feels. When it comes to running a business, I'm not saying go be a shark, but I am saying that it is YOUR responsibility to do your part in being your own boss. I've been put in situations where I've let my heart do the talking when my business brain should have been doing the talking.
Most applicants for a VA type position won't have much experience, if any at all. You might even think that the job of a VA isn't really that important because hey, it's just some routine tasks but that couldn't be further from the truth. My assistant is still very new but it's become SO clear to me that she has the potential to be the foundation of everything for myself and my business. When she takes tasks away from me, I have more time to create new content and awesome resources to help photographers grow their businesses! I have time to do what I do best which is CREATE.
All of this sounds pretty straight forward and "duh", but the truth is so many don't think about these things when hiring a VA... I sure didn't the first time and it backfired. Back then I thought it was their fault but now I understand that because I did not do my part, I set those people up for failure. It was and still is my priority to make sure my current assistant and any future team members here at Emma Rose Company are set up for success. Yeah, we are learning as we go and making adjustments when necessary but I'm proud of this experience so far and how we have so quickly become in sync with one another.
I asked Dean if she had anything to share about her experience so far working with me, and this is what she said [insert hold back the tears emoji]!
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: EMMA ROSE
Emma Rose is a Squarespace website designer and photographer based out of the Pacific Northwest. She helps photographers not only stand out online, but dig deep to find the why in what they do. She strives to work with like-minded entrepreneurs who want to grow an audience, start and thrive their online business and change the freakin' world. She aims to help people create not only meaningful businesses but lives. For more about Emma, click here!
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