When we decided to kick our business up a few notches a little over two years ago, we started doing some research on continuing education to make our business even better than it has been. We stumbled upon the Wedding Stationery Collective on one of those late-night scrolling rabbit holes and fell in love with the idea of attending their annual retreat. This past April we took that leap, invested the money (which was the hard part, but it’s paid off tenfold) and headed off to meet some of the most influential business women we’ve ever known in the creative industry! One of those women was Kat Schmoyer, owner of Dear Sweetheart Events and founder of the Creative at Heart Conference. We had just wrapped up a session about expanding your services and knowing the RIGHT time to bring people on board. Being the chatty-Cathy’s that we are and asking all the questions, we mentioned that we often get asked if we’re hiring graphic designers because they would love to join the Rock Paper Sisters team. And while currently we aren’t, we mentioned at the conference that we knew we needed to start taking some things off our plate to allow for more focused time with our clients and better service for our brides and grooms. Immediately after the session, Kat came over to tell us about the one thing she did for her business that changed everything for her – hiring a virtual assistant. She mentioned that this person provides all kinds of assistance to her so that she can make herself available to the things she really needs to focus on, ahem, she is running a massive creative conference after all, and leading an amazing team of wedding designers!
Megan and I immediately started turning over ideas in our brain. At the first break of the day, we headed out to the porch of the beautiful Leslie-Alford Mims House, snacked on some popcorn and started jotting down a plan. We knew immediately in that moment that we would be reaching out to someone to help take a few things off our plate, and that person was our momma. Now, you might be thinking, they hired their MOM? And yes, yes we did! We officially tacked her onto the payroll! But why her? Well, this woman is one of the most technologically savvy people we’ve ever met. She’s the one that tells her KIDS that there’s a new iPhone update and how to do it, or a new social media platform and what the experts are saying about it. She’s always in the know, and when she isn’t, she will research it. We’ve often found that asking her is BETTER than searching on Google, because she shoots it to you straight. Also, we knew we wanted to hire our momma because we wanted someone we could trust. We’ve heard many times before that entrepreneurs have hired virtual assistants halfway across the country or the world and have been scammed, and if you know much about us at all, you’ll know we are rather guarded people when it comes to our personal lives. So we pitched it to our mom! She’s a full-time cardiac nurse and a growing doTERRA Wellness Advocate, and somehow she was still eager to join our team! She manages all of our emails, schedules appointments, maintains our calendar, let’s us know when there’s an urgent matter to attend to (nothing in the stationery world is urgent compared to heart surgery, but you know what we mean), and just generally makes sure we’re operating smoothly. So if you think you’re ready to bring on an assistant to make sure your business is running smoothly, here are a few tips we want to share:
Make sure you can afford it
“Debt” is four letter word we don’t use around here, so we had to make sure it was something we could afford to do, because even though she’s our momma, we couldn’t let her work for free! So we crunched the numbers that day while we rocked in the rocking chairs and worked out our plan of attack. We came up with a pricing structure that fit our budget and that covered the cost of work that she would be doing. If you’re hiring or contracting an employee like this where you can help set the terms, you will feel much more comfortable about your bottom line at the end of the day. Approaching a one-size-fits all organization that has set pricing for these types of services might be harder to make work for your specific workload and budget.
Look for someone you can trust
We aren’t here to say that virtual assistants that you’ve never physically met are a bad fit for your business, because they aren’t! But we do highly encourage you to thoroughly research anyone that you plan to use as an assistant/contractor for your business. In our case, we’ve handed over passwords and access to a lot of information. While nothing is Earth-shatteringly top secret, you want to make sure you have someone you can trust with that information.
Build a job description
It’s hard to set someone loose without pointing them in the right direction. Brainstorm the tasks and work that you would like to have your assistant take on so that everyone will be on the same page with the venture. This also helps in determining the baseline for Tip 1.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your staff shouldn’t be either. The workload and pricing structure can determine the number of hours that you will need from your new employee. Maybe it’s a few hours each day or maybe it’s one full day a week. Determine a good starting point for your needs and work up to a full-time status in the future, if need be.
Work smarter, not harder
Utilize time tracking systems for your assistant that allow for easy calculation at the end of each pay period. We love the app called Toggl, which allows our assistant to “clock in and out” from wherever she might be, without having to physically punch a clock. It helps us to know the hours that she’s working so that we can easily calculate that for payroll. This is also a great resource for time tracking project work, etc. We also love the new time tracking system in Dubsado!
We can’t wait to see how your business expands and grows over the coming weeks, months, and years. But know that it’s just that, a slow growth process. Take your time in hiring new employees or contractors and above all make sure that it’s the right season for your business.