There comes a point in every solopreneur’s career when doing it all by yourself just doesn’t work. As you’re growing and scaling your business, serving more and more clients, you will need an extra hand to help take the load off. But going from solopreneur to CEO is a huge and scary step. Not only do you have to invest a good amount of money in hiring help, but you also need to make sure you’re hiring the right person and delegating the right tasks. Sandra Booker is an online business manager and the founder of Any Old Task. She joins me on this episode of Her Life By Design to discuss all things hiring, delegating, and building team culture.
Hiring, Delegating, and Building Team Culture
Sandra’s agency, Any Old Task, has helped many entrepreneurs run their businesses more smoothly and efficiently. Her passions are in helping solopreneurs go from overworked and overwhelmed to fully supported CEOs through hiring, delegating, and building team culture. If your business is growing and you feel like you’re running out of time to get everything done, you might be on the precipice of growing your team. It’s a growing pain of business that is necessary, no matter how scary and daunting it sounds. Sandra shares some expert tips on navigating the scary transition from running your business as a one-woman-show to building a small but mighty team. Starting with…
Knowing the Difference Between a VA, OBM, Integrator, or COO
So you’re ready to make your first hire but you don’t exactly know what role this person might fit in. When it comes to hiring for your virtual team, there are a few roles and terminology you need to get clear on. Here’s a breakdown of some of the most common roles you’ll hire for:
Virtual Assistant (or VA)
Although the term itself has grown into a full-blown industry with many different roles that live under it, VA’s generally take care of administrative tasks. “VAs help you with your day-to-day tasks. They’re going to be helping you with your books, frontline customer service, maybe answering your emails, or answering contact forms that come in from your website,” Sandra shares. These days, it isn’t uncommon to find VAs who specialize in a specific area, such as tech VAs or launch VAs. But for the most part, when you thinking about hiring a VA, you’re mostly looking for someone to help you out with day-to-day admin tasks.
Online Business Manager (OBM)
OBMs focus on larger scale management roles, such as managing your team and ongoing projects. “The virtue of the online business manager is going to be somebody that is helping you manage your product projects and your team. They run reports and make sure you’re meeting your goals. They also help to establish the culture of your business, strategy, and they make sure everybody’s on the same page.”
Traditionally speaking, the term “integrator” applies to someone who is integrating tech into the backend of your business. These days, “it’s kind of grown to mean someone who is super technical and highly skilled as an executive assistant and strategy person.” Which brings us to our next term…
COO (Chief Operating Officer)
That person that Sandra described as being an “all-in-one” assistant and strategy person is a COO. The COO is usually second in command, as they deal with overseeing a lot of the business’ moving parts.
When to Know Who to Hire
Now that you have a clearer picture of the different roles you could hire for, you need to figure out which role your business needs to fill first. When you’re making the leap from solopreneur to CEO, it’s pretty common that your first hire would be a virtual assistant. “What I see is that somebody hires a virtual assistant and that role grows, and then they decide that they have to hire somebody full time. So they might have a VA and then a second person full-time. And then usually at that point in time is when they look for the OBM,” Sandra explains.
Your first hire, more likely than not, will typically be a virtual assistant. But depending on how your team grows or how the scope of your projects expands, the next sensible hire would be an online business manager. Sandra confirms that “it’s not always just the team growth. Sometimes it’s the project growth that has people bringing in an OBM.”
Deciding What You Need to Delegate Before Hiring
Not quite sure if you need to bring someone on your team yet? Sandra has some advice for you. “My favorite method of doing it is to do a report on your time. Do a time study.” Audit your time and write down everything you’re doing from the moment you wake up to the minute you go to bed. “That way, you’re capturing all of the things that you’re doing and exactly how long it’s taking you to do them. And then from there, you can look at it and see ‘oh, I’m spending 10 hours a week answering emails or loading my newsletter. Somebody could handle this.”
Whether it’s creating content for social media, uploading and scheduling posts, or taking care of administrative tasks, outsourcing the tasks that someone else can do for you is a great way to free up your time.
“For the most part, if this is your first time outsourcing a position, 80% to 90% of the time you’re going to hire a virtual assistant.” What Sandra says is absolutely true for my business. I started out by hiring a VA who took care of a lot of different tasks. But eventually, my team grew larger and each person has clearly defined roles that they could take full ownership of. To hear more about how I grew my team to where it is today, check out this episode on how I managed to hit my first 7-figure year in 2020.
Getting Over the Mindset Block of Hiring and Investing in Your Team
There’s no denying that making your first hire is a big step. It’s one that causes a lot of mindset blocks, especially when it comes to investing a large sum of money. Sandra’s advice for solopreneurs who are ready to take this next step is “sit with it and feel out what the driving factor is.” Prior to making your first hire, you might think that you aren’t ready for this next step. However, Sandra says what you might think is your gut instinct might actually be a gut reaction. “And if it’s a reaction, you need to drill down into it and keep asking yourself ‘why’.”
Say, for instance, you’re worried about hiring your first virtual assistant. This could be because you’re worried you won’t see a return in your investment and you’re afraid you won’t get your money back. But why do you think that? Sandra assures that “you can obviously see that if somebody takes 10 hours of work off of your plate, you now have 10 hours of time that you can put into more money making efforts of your business.”
Tips for Hiring the Right Person for Your Team
Another common fear could be that you’re afraid of hiring the wrong person for your business and your team. Sandra’s biggest tip is to take your time with the hiring process and really make sure that the person you’re interviewing is a great fit for you and your team. For instance, there are certain tasks that people just do not like doing. Hiring them to fulfill that task despite their strengths and preferences would not be a great idea. On the other hand, it’s important to hire someone whose personality matches and complements yours and your team’s. “If you’re a quick start dominant person, having a quick start dominant VA is not always going to work out for you,” Sandra explains.
Sandra also recommends having at least 5 different people to conduct interviews with. It’s also a great idea to have your potential new VA work on a test project. You could start with a 3 month trial period before making a decision to hire them as a fully onboarded member of your team.
You can also help your new hire succeed in their role by providing SOPs (standard operating procedures), a guideline to your brand voice and aesthetic, and any helpful information that could help them excel in their role.
But the work doesn’t end once you’ve made a successful hire. Keep in touch with your VA or new team member. Ask them what they need help with, how they feel they’re doing in their role, and what you can do to support them. You should also disclose anything that you’d like to have changed and how you think they could improve in their role. The key is to keep an honest and open communication between you and your team.
Tips for Building Team Culture
The reality of the situation is this — no one you hire will be as passionate about your business as you are. However, there are ways in which you can get your team to truly care and rally behind your mission wholeheartedly. Again, Sandra explains that communication is key, even when it comes to building team culture. Sandra also advises CEOs of virtual teams to celebrate any milestone, no matter how small, together. You could do this by calling out wins on a general Slack channel, or by celebrating a team member who has shown up and really embodied your brand’s mission and values.
Another great tip that Sandra shares is to keep the different love languages in mind. Whereas some people’s love language might be gifts, another person’s might be quality time. No matter what, celebrating your team, hosting non-work-related team events, and recognizing each member is a great way to build a strong, healthy team culture.
Building Your Team With Confidence
Growing your team is an exciting journey filled with uncertainties and potential. But knowing the best practices for hiring, delegating, and building team culture will help you navigate this process with more confidence. Sandra shares a lot of implementable advice for solopreneurs, business owners, and CEOs alike. Because truth be told, hiring and building a team you trust can be one of the most challenging aspects of entrepreneurship. But with Sandra’s sound advice, you’ll have a clear understanding of what you need to pay attention to, how you decide what to outsource, and how to get any team member excited about your company and mission.
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