All Posts

How & When to Hire an Assistant, Intern, or VA

May 19, 2020

hi there, We are biz birthday bash
We’re on a mission to help creatives like you — ambitious artists, calligraphers and stationers — get on the right path (and stay there!) so you can celebrate your biz birthday too.
featured posts
Get our top 100 tips & tricks
This free 15-page PDF includes the down-to-earth scoop on EXACTLY what you need to do to get your business running
(and keep it running).
Get yours delivered to your email inbox now! 
tell me more
Marketing tactics for a retail shop location
What I wish I knew about wholesale (Before I started wholesale)
Taking an intentional break from social media

Are you crazy busy in your biz, exhausted every day, and need some help with the burden of your daily to-do list? If so, It might be time for you to look into hiring an assistant, intern, or a virtual assistant (VA). In today’s episode, we’re chatting about our experience with outsourcing and things we considered before taking the leap. We’re covering everything from tasks you might want to outsource in your creative biz to finding a rockstar VA. 

Let’s be friends! Find us on Instagram @bizbirthdaybash.

Signs you might need outside help

You find yourself burdened by daily business tasks and you can’t find as much time for the creative elements within your businesses that you need to be doing

Cami: (02:31)

Number one, you’re losing your mind. Just kidding. That’s not number one, but that’s what the first sign was for me. But you find yourself burdened by daily tasks and you can’t find as much time for the creative elements within your business that you need to be doing. And those are the things that only you can do. 

Elisabeth: (02:54)

Yes, that’s a great point. A lot of times we need to look at the tasks like what can only Cami do? Only Cami can paint beautiful watercolors. I mean other people in the world can paint water colors, but only Cami can do it for her business. And so it’s all about bringing someone else in to help with these tasks that can be passed off to somebody. Yeah, it’s kind of just like a weight balancing system. Like if I can take the weight off of this one plate, then I have a lot more room on my plate for the painting part, which in turn truly does grow my business. 

You find yourself dispising certain tasks (maybe this is shipping or email) and your time would be better spent elsewhere

Elisabeth: (05:33)

Okay. So number two signs that you might need outside help as you find yourself despising certain tasks. So maybe this is shipping, maybe this is email and you know your time would be better spent somewhere else. So there’s really no reason for you to do the things in your business that you absolutely hate. I think this is why a lot of creatives tend to hire like a bookkeeper and an accountant first. Like once they have enough money to do it, they’re like, all right, I’m going to have somebody do this because no way do I want to spend my time doing it or I don’t understand it well enough.But I know for a lot of people too, like shipping is another quick thing that can catch up with you, especially when you’re a product business. 

Cami (6:12)

Yeah, and like for me, mine was that I really hated doing anything like updating product listings or inventory management or like making sure all the listings were updated across all three selling platforms and all this stuff. I literally hate doing that. So my VA Jacqueline was so perfect for bringing her in for that. 

You literally can’t finish you daily to-do list EVER and you are always working weekends

Cami: (06:47)

The other outside help is you literally cannot finish your daily to do list like at Burr and you’re always working weekends. Like guys, I know we feel like we need to be working 24/7 and I’m preaching to myself as well here. But like you don’t have to do that. You need to be able to take time off and take breaks and sometimes there’s just not enough hands when it’s just your own two hands. So bringing in someone else so you can actually have time to enjoy your weekends and your days off and like actually leave your office at 5:00 PM or whenever you decide if you want to leave. 

Elisabeth (07:20) 

Yeah. Cause honestly, what’s the point of being your own boss? If you can’t have the freedom to make your own schedule, how you want, take time off when you want. Be like, you know what? I want a three day weekend this week and you can do it. Amen. Amen. Yeah. You don’t want to be a slave to your own business. If you started that business, don’t be a horrible boss to yourself. 

You don’t have the skills to do a certain task 100% (maybe this is email marketing, facebook ads, social media, etc). 

Elisabeth: (09:59)

so maybe this is email marketing, Facebook ads, social media management, blogging. The list goes on. If you’re not a hundred percent comfortable with a certain task, that’s the perfect time to bring someone to do it in for you. So Cami and I have definitely hired someone in the past for BBB to do Facebook ads because we’re like, maybe we could figure this out. Do we really want to? Like we would rather pay somebody to be an expert in this area and hire that out to someone else.

Cami: (10:25)

Absolutely. I mean the time you take to try to learn that new task and be as good as the expert, I mean you’ve already saved so much money by just paying them versus like taking that time and you know they’re going to do a good job and it’s just like it just takes away the stress of so many things. Instead of trying to learn how to be a Facebook ads expert, just be like, look, this person already knows how to do it and they’re offering it as a service. Like do it. The best way to grow is to really invest in things like that. Yeah, and both times it definitely paid for itself. Like no doubt about that. When you have somebody new who knows what they’re doing. 

You have so many things you WANT to achieve in your business but they keep getting put on the backburner.

Cami: (11:12)

Oh my gosh, this was like written for me because I literally have a thousand ideas as Elizabeth knows. I’m always like, what about this idea? And then I’m like, I’ll just have to table that and I do a thousand other things first. But now I’m starting to see the reward of having my VA Jacqueline because I am gaining time back to do things, which is cool. I mean it’s been, it wasn’t like instantly, like I gained time back, but now that I’m like giving her a more task and like dressing her with things, like I do have that creative time and just like that time for my brain to actually breathe and think, you know, instead of just being like in the tunnels, like working all the time. Like I can come out and be like, Oh, there’s the sun. Okay, here’s an idea. I will do this. And Jacqueline still there in the tunnels, in the trenches doing all this stuff. So it’s great.

You know that paying someone to help will ultimately help you make more money (not less). You’ve gotta run the numbers! 

Elisabeth: (13:30)

So you have to run the numbers on this. But I think for a lot of business owners there’s kind of this tipping point of to grow in some regards it depends. We’ve talked about scaling versus growing and past episodes, but to grow in certain areas, sometimes you’ve got to bring in the help and you kind of start getting that feeling that you need to do it. And like we said before, Cammie started talking about this like a long time before she actually did it.

Cami: (13:55)

Yeah, for sure. I really had to make sure that there would be like a solid ROI on something. Like I didn’t want it to just be like, Oh, taking things off my plate. Like I wanted to, I didn’t understand that. Like taking things off my plate would lead to more time for creating, which ultimately leads to more revenue because I have more things that I’m selling and also like doing more marketing outreach that I wasn’t doing, which directly leads to more income. So I was like just trying to figure out where that was, but it took me a while to realize where the ROI was, if that makes sense. 

Strategies for finding someone

Cami: (18:33)

I think word of mouth referrals are a hundred percent of the best way to find someone to hire like hands down the best way. But if you don’t get like that word of mouth referral or if you’re looking for how to get that word of mouth referral, I mean asking around in Facebook groups and posting on social media is like the easiest way. I mean you’re going to get so many people being like, Oh I use this person or this person’s great or then themselves coming to me like I do this, this is my specialty. Like it is the best way to find someone. For sure.

Elisabeth: (19:00)

Yeah. Agreed. And then the other strategies that we have are creating a job application on your website or Google forms that people have to fill out.

Rapid Fire Q&A

What does something like this cost? Is it hourly and how often do you pay?

Cami: (27:43)

Okay, so with Jacqueline, my VA I pay her $35 an hour and we do typically like 20 hours a month.But when I was asking for applications and I had people say like what’s your rate or whatever and mean I saw anywhere from like 15 to 35 ish dollars per hour. It was kind of like the going rates and it was scary because Jacqueline was more expensive than some of the other people that I talked to. But I was like, I think she is a thousand percent worth it and I truly believe you get what you pay for. And I value people who value themselves with that kind of money. So absolutely worth every single cent. But I think an average of $20 an hour is like something you could expect to pay a VA. 

Do you need to have business policies in place?

Cami: (29:16)

Well I obviously did not have that in place. Let’s be real. Like that’s not something I would have thought of. But luckily Jacqueline came with all that. Like she was like, here’s my stuff. And like that was also really helpful because I was like, I don’t want to have to think about hiring someone. So if you’re hiring someone who is truly a VA they will probably already have those types of things, like a contract and how the things work with them, you know, which was important for me. Like not having to micromanage or figure all those things out.

How do you outline what that person will help you with?

Cami: (30:28)

So throughout like the years of my life being a business owner, I was like trying to keep this like running lists basically in my head and on a spreadsheet or not spreadsheet, just like a piece of paper that was in my desk drawer of like things I wrote down when I was like, you know, someone else could do this for me. Like, and so I just tried to keep a running list of that and they were a bit all over the map and I put basically every single one of those on my application. And I’m like, I know this has a hodgepodge and completely random, so if you can handle all this, fantastic. So I just kept outlining it based on what I’m like, I could outsource if it was the right person. And then when I actually hired Jacqueline and brought her onboard, um, we just had like a call and she basically was like, Hey, I see you need help on this.

Cami: (31:14)

Here is what I think we should do. Here’s what I, I’m suggesting for you. What do you think about that? Like she comes to me a lot with suggestions on how to make my business better. 

How will you communicate with that person?

Elisabeth: (32:19)

Okay. And so do you, are you mainly going back and forth via email? Are you touching base like once a month or do you have like an air table or spreadsheet? Google doc, any of that stuff to keep you organized with your task? 

Cami: (32:40)

So I have an air table. Elisabeth, you’d be so proud of me when I made this air table. So I have an air table that I like. Any task I think of that needs to get done, read it on there and then

I tag it with things like Shopify or Etsy, Oh, shops marketing, and email. Like they’re all different color tags because I’m so organized. And then I’ll write like notes on there and be like, the image for this, this and this drive or whatever. So I’ll have that on the air table and she can check them off as she completes them. And then we also have our ongoing task on there with things she’s always doing, like reaching out to wholesale accounts, like following stores on Instagram and talking to them on their kind of thing.

Cami: (33:18)

And then like once or twice a month we’ll do like the video call to just catch up on things and figure out what we’re doing.

What types of tasks can a VA take on?

Elisabeth: (38:58)

Moving on, what types of tasks can a VA take on? I know we’ve talked about some of the tasks that Jacqueline does for you, but do you feel like there are any that you miss talking about or maybe the other VAs do for people? Like for me, I know that my girl was doing some blog posts and email marketing and ConvertKit, but if you have specific examples for Jacqueline that’d be awesome. Okay. So I have her obviously like I talked about, she does all the new product listings, price, the descriptions for those, does inventory management on things.

Cami: (39:31)

Basically cross-references every single platform for sales to make sure everything’s the same because I have different stuff on different ones. It’s very confusing. She updates my Etsy, she sorts all of my stuff into Etsy categories. Then, she does my flow desk stuff for me and she’s helping me out with that. Um, she’ll like create campaigns and then also just like fill in the gaps of ones that I’ve made, um, and get them ready to go. Let’s see, what else does she do for marketing in terms of reaching out to wholesale? Like it was really one of the big things I want. It was like wholesale vendor relationship management. That sounds so corporate, but that’s what I wanted. So she does like reaching out to the stores who have bought from me or haven’t bought from me and just like following up and like building that relationship to see how things are going, if they need any help, picking out something and then following them on Instagram, communicating with them on there, any kind of customer service stuff.

Cami: (40:22)

She handles all my Etsy orders and mug orders for drop shipping and any questions on there. So I pretty much ignore my Etsy except for like shipping out the actual things that I do. I mean, that’s so awesome. Yeah, that’s incredible. So yeah, the marketing and like personal outreach was like the biggest thing that I really wanted her to do. Like that. I’m like, I could do this, but she’s so good at it. So yeah. So just like maintaining relationships with stores.

Do you actually need a specialist or more of a generalist?

Elisabeth: (43:47)

This is something really important to think about. Kind of what we talked about before. You’re going to pay a lot more probably for someone who’s specifically a copywriter or specifically a designer, whereas maybe a VA is somebody who could cover a multitude of tasks and have more of that like hourly rate instead of kind of like what Cami and I have for our stationary, like a design fee.. Which is like a big chunk of money, which somebody else who’s more specialized will probably charge. So Cami do you have any additional insight about this that we should share with our audience? 

Cami (44:21)

Yeah, I was just going to say, I feel like it comes down to what you’re writing on your list of like what you want to outsource or like what you start being like this is what I need to, I need help with this. And like if you’re looking at it, is it a lot of like little daily to do? Is it just like, you know like the nuts and bolts of your business. There’s like, I’m making these weird hand motions you guys, but it’s holding like little nuts and bolts kind of thing versus like, no, I actually needed an entire website. Like that would be like a specialist to figure out what you need. Is it like the little tiny pieces or is it like one huge chunk that requires like one specialist to do it. So just like understanding what your needs are and knowing that if you hired a VA and you actually needed a new website, like that’s not going to fix the problem. You know what I mean? Like, yes. So finding the right solution for the problem basically. 

add a comment


free download

Top 100
Tips + Tricks

All the things we think you to know, packed into PDF format. Save it on your computer or print it out for your binder, old school style.