Welcome to Episode 9 of the Sparking Growth Podcast! Today I’m chatting with Mariah from Mariah Magazine. She’s a web strategist and designer who helps entrepreneurs optimize their websites. Her business systems are a bit scattered, so she wants to get them whipped back into shape, both for her own sanity and so that she can confidently hire an assistant. We’re going to talk about both the technical side and the personal side of creating systems and preparing to hire a VA.
Here is a cheat sheet of some of the episode highlights:
Mariah’s intro, 0:26
Mariah’s current systems and client process, 1:27
A new workflow – start with a lead capture form, 2:48
Splitting workflows for different target audiences, 3:28
Triggering workflows, 6:42
Systemizing the project process, 7:52
Getting content from clients! 11:20
Canned emails to improve processes, 12:11
Automatically creating tasks for you and clients in Dubsado, 12:56
Splitting and pausing workflows, 13:25
-Link to the Dubsado Facebook group we mentioned-
Getting processes and systems ready for a VA, 14:58
Managing a virtual assistant- email newsletters, 15:35
Prep your VA for your own brand of crazy! 16:40
Creating a system to assign and monitor VA tasks, 18:04
-Click here to sign up to be notified when the Asana for Productivity webinar goes live-
Give a new hire some adjustment time, 20:36
Document specific tasks for your new VA, 21:07
Don’t be afraid to trial a few VA’s, 22:08
Where to connect with Mariah! 24:57
Let’s dive a little deeper into a few solutions to help you expand your local marketing and clients, though!
1 | Automated workflows to the rescue!
If you feel like you’re going to pull your hair out when you think about all the moving parts in your client and project processes… it’s time for an automated workflow. In this episode, I talked with Mariah about how she can turn her go-with-the-flow processes into a streamlined system. The tool I suggested was Dubsado because you can automate your entire workflow from start to finish!
For Mariah, that means she can embed a lead capture form on her website that allows the lead to select a field that will trigger a specific workflow within Dubsado. It then automatically takes the client through the proposal (based on what they selected in the lead capture form) to the contract and down payment on their invoice. Mariah can also build in some delay so that she can check in and make sure they’re suited for the package they’ve selected. If not, she can pause the workflow, adjust things, and restart it.
Once they’ve paid the down payment, the client will move through the rest of the workflow. Dubsado can automatically create tasks for Mariah and her clients, enabling the clients to watch Mariah’s process as she checks off tasks as well as get reminders to upload necessary content to their personal client portal. This can save Mariah HOURS of time that she would normally spend fielding emails about where she is in the process and trying to hunt down the content she needs to move forward with a project!
In other words, if you want more time to relax and enjoy NOT babysitting clients (hey, we’ve all been there), you need to automate your systems.
2 | Getting processes and systems ready for a virtual assistant
Okay, so you’re ready to get some things off your plate, eh? That’s where Mariah was, but she didn’t know where to start to prepare for that new hire. Since her systems and processes were so scattered, she didn’t feel adequately put together to bring someone else in.
Don’t worry – she can do it and so can you!
To start with, keep a running list of the tasks you do on a recurring basis. Decide which ones you’ll outsource and then run a screen capture program and narrate what you’re doing. That gives you a visual tool to send your new VA so they can jump right in and all they have to do is ask any questions that your tutorial doesn’t answer.
After the podcast recording, I remembered another resource that I’d forgotten to mention, though! I sent Mariah a link to an article which will help you get a handle on creating an operation manual for your business and I wanted to share it with you too. Creating an operations manual is great for not only a new hire but for you too!
If you want a more in-depth guide to help you prepare to outsource your business tasks, check out the 5-day Outsourcing for Success Bootcamp!
3 | Don’t be afraid to test several options
Finding the right fit is CRUCIAL when hiring, especially as a solopreneur! If your new VA doesn’t mesh well with your personality, it’s going to be tough going, my friend.
Since Mariah was preparing to interview potential VAs shortly after we recorded this episode, I suggested that she give each of them a trial run. That way, she can give each person a 2-4 week trial, make note of how well they worked, and make an educated decision as to who she wants to officially hire. She would pay them all their regular rates for the trial period, of course, and she would be upfront with them that this would be temporary to start with and wouldn’t be a reflection on them personally.
This protects not only Mariah, but also her potential VAs! After all, one of the best things about being an entrepreneur is the ability to work with people you LIKE, right? By starting with a trial run, both Mariah AND the VA have a built-in out if they don’t want to work with the other one after the trial. If Mariah came back to a VA to hire them long-term, they could apologize and say no; at the same time, if Mariah doesn’t like working with someone or just plain finds someone who she enjoys working with more, she doesn’t have to come back to the other VAs. Win-win!
When you’re ready to hire, don’t be afraid to ‘shop around.’ This is in the best interest of both you and your potential employees.
Want to connect with Mariah?
Find her at MariahMagazine.com, on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and LinkedIn! Don’t forget to subscribe to Sparking Growth for more episodes and share your biggest takeaways from this episode in the comments.