After coming to the conclusion that it was time to hire VAs and experts to help run my business, this week’s mission was to make that happen, as quickly as possible. You’ve heard that when you fail to plan, you plan to fail. While I don’t consider this week to be a complete failure, I only accomplished about 20% of my goal, because I only allotted 20% of my time to execute it.
The meeting I had with my Mastermind group on Thursday cemented the importance in prioritizing and scheduling when setting goals. Having my parents visiting this week, reminded me that the time we have together is precious and few. Together, these gave me the conviction to keep moving forward— harder, stronger, better, every day, with priority as my focus.
Do you ever wonder what your fellow creative entrepreneurs are up to? In between the big wins, product launches, and collaborations are the small steps (some forward, some backward) that lead to those turning points. Here’s a transparent account of a week in the life of a gal in passionate pursuit of business growth, personal development and those magical milestones.
Monday, February 27
I started my week on a positive note by setting my alarm early (for me) and setting off to work from Bold Bean, my favorite coffee shop. You’ve probably seen the photos and videos that I keep posting on Instagram and are getting sick of them, but I can’t get enough of their cappuccinos or their beachy-trendy vibes!
Even though I wanted nothing more than to dive right into my hunt for a Virtual Assistant, I had a blog post to finish first. This one. Of all the Diary of a Creative Entrepreneur posts I’ve shared so far, it’s the one that I poured the most into and felt like a bit of a turning point— not just for my business, but for the blog segment itself.
I switched locations after lunch and spent the rest of the afternoon putting those pages of notes I wrote last Friday afternoon into an organized spreadsheet. I’m far from being an Excel whiz, but I just love putting things in order!
If you’re doing a VA search of your own, and need help getting started, here’s a peek at my (extremely basic) spreadsheet. I created one tab for each brand (this one is for Elegance & Enchantment) and listed every single role I hope to fill. Even though I won’t be hiring every position at once, I thought it would be good to be thinking ahead, and leaving space to add more in the future.
Tuesday, February 28
I hopped right back into Project: VA on Tuesday morning, by defining roles. In creating the first spreadsheet, I noticed that I had some overlap between my two brands and saw an opportunity to condense responsibilities. I picked the tasks that I’d like to get help on immediately and created another tab in my spreadsheet to help me figure out exactly how many people I need to hire.
In the afternoon I scheduled all of my DesignCuts promos for the next two weeks, with just a little bit of a hiccup (which I’ll get back to in a minute). I’m hopeful that it will have been the last time I worked on creating those promos since you may have noticed that it’s one of the things I plan to outsource! I took note of all the steps in the promotion process so that when it comes time to train that new person, I have a framework for them to reference.
So that hiccup.
Since these aren’t tasks I particularly enjoy doing anyway, a big part of me just wanted to use the outage as an excuse to blow it all off until Wednesday. Instead, I forged forward, getting all the text and links ready to go, so all I needed to do was add in the images when AWS came back online.
As one of my favorite Enchanting Mondays prints says, “Do something today that your future self will thank you for.”
I also didn’t want to leave anything extra for myself to tackle in the later part of the week since our next visitors, my Mom and Dad, arrived Tuesday evening (our third set of guests in the last three weeks, if you’ve been keeping track).
Wednesday, March 1
The first of the month means Accounting Day! I am currently on a quest to figure out a way to make this more of a celebration than a dreaded task. I’ll keep you posted on that. My process includes sending invoices to sponsors and my freelance client as well as adding expenses and income to the register I have set up in Quickbooks. While the software makes the process super easy, those numbers just never look glam to me.
Now that I had identified the tasks I needed to outsource and defined job roles, it was time to start searching for the right people. I began by combing threads and profiles in a Facebook Group I’m part of, called “The Savvy Business Owners.” I knew there were a lot of members who are VAs and that there would be a good selection.
That gave me a great starting point, but I also ended up finding some additional resources using an unlikely search engine called Instagram. The designer in me tends to connect best to people who present themselves well, so it only made sense to use the most visual social media platform to make that happen.
Even though it doesn’t have the best search capabilities, I’ve had lots of success using Instagram to find one-of-a-kind coffee shops, restaurants, and even hotels when we are traveling, which is kind of what got me hooked on this searching method. I’ll be sure to report back the results of using it as a “people finder.”
Mom and Dad knew it was a work day for me, but I still wanted to make sure we got to spend some quality time together, so I carved out my afternoon to spend with them at the beach.
It was a gorgeous day, not too hot and not too cold, and if there was anyone else there, we didn’t notice them. As we took a walk along the shoreline, I started to second guess whether I really needed to hire people to help me run my business. After all, there I was, at the beach with my parents on a random Wednesday afternoon in March, and the world was still spinning without me sitting at my desk.
I reminded myself that this day was an anomaly and that most of the time when I try to take off in the middle of the work day (and even sometimes on weekends), that I’m completely distracted by what’s waiting for me when I get back. I know that hiring help will allow me to have more afternoons like this one, and to be more present when I do.
Thursday, March 2nd
In formulating the “jobs” I planned to hire in my business, there were still a few gray areas— where I didn’t know exactly what type of person to hire, or if filling the role should even be made a priority. However, there was one position, standing out, that fit all the criteria for being an area to outsource. And best of all, I already had the person in mind to fill it!
My sister Allie had been helping me run my Etsy shop for almost a year now and is a rockstar. We have different strengths, but both live to make others happy, which is an essential quality to have when running a business. The new project I decided to assign her to fit the bill in what she loves to do: following instructions to a tee and executing repetitive tasks.
The part of my workflow that I’m handing over to her is to schedule the blog post and email for the segment on my blog, Elegance & Enchantment, called Enchanting Mondays. These posts go up weekly, and the entire process takes me about an hour each week. By handing this responsibility over to her, I can focus on the part I’m best at (designing the printable art shared in the article). I’m hoping that this freedom will allow me to create those designs further in advance, and even be able to have 3 or 4 in the bank, so Allie and I can both “batch” our processes, and save even more time.
Since Allie is an instruction-follower, I wrote out a guide, outlining all the steps she’d need to complete (in somewhat painstaking detail). I know that after a couple of weeks, she won’t even need to refer to it— but what’s great is, if we ever decide to hand this job off to someone else, we have instructions ready for them to follow.
At 2 pm, I signed onto my Mastermind call with Lauren and Kalyn, which was a continuation of our in-person meeting from a couple of weeks ago (rather than our usual, check-in format). We shared the results of a Strengths Finder Test we all took, which further cemented the roles we already helped define for one another.
My top five strengths were revealed to be: Visionary, Innovation, Integrity, Ambition, and Faith. My greatest weakness (that Kalyn and I share) surprised us both, which is “Self-Motivation.” In reading father into the assessment, we came to understand that we are, in actuality, great “self-starters” but never prioritize projects and tasks that align with our personal wishes and desires. In other words, we procrastinate our own goals, so we can help others accomplish theirs.
Knowing yourself (especially your weaknesses) is half the battle. I encourage you to take this or a similar assessment to help you figure out how you can best serve your customers and/or audience.
In the second part of our meeting, we discussed scheduling and prioritizing, which helped confirm my need of a virtual assistant. The study we were following, from Carey Nieuwhof, suggests that we spend 80% of our time on big, meaningful projects, and 20% of our time on maintenance-type tasks like answering emails. My current workflow is the opposite (probably closer to 90% maintaining, 10% growing). Needless to say, change needs to happen!
Friday, March 3rd
File this day under “D” for “disruptive. Our new couch was delivered in the morning; friends stopped by to see the house in the afternoon, and my parents had run out of ways to entertain themselves. I love my mom but left to her own devices; she began cleaning every nook and cranny of the house—simultaneously stressing me out and making me feel like a failure of a housewife.
In the small pockets of time, I was able to find; I hopped on a Skype call to train Allie on her new assignment and to create a new Enchanting Monday design for the week.
I had hoped to get in touch with a few other VAs I found to fulfill the other roles I outlined, but those would have to wait until Monday! I ended the week in a state of neutrality, feeling a little disappointed that I didn’t make more progress in hiring out assignments, but appreciative that I had gotten the process started.
Lesson of the week:
Define the things that matter most to you, whether it be a big goal you want to accomplish, a project you want to finish, or in dedication to something or someone important in your life. Spend a majority (at least 80% of your time) in pursuit of these areas. If they are truly what matter, everything else can wait.
What I’m reading:
Ask, by Ryan Levesque
What I’m watching:
Rewatched the end of The Man in the High Castle, Season 1, with my dad. SO. GOOD.
What I’m listening to:
- Lots of great, new (to me) podcasts! Some notable episodes:
- Beyond the to-do list Podcast, Time: Amber De La Garza on Priorities, Daily Planning and Time Blocking
- Goal Digger Podcast, Creating an Unforgettable Brand, with Jen Olmstead
- The Journal by Kevin Rose Podcast, Lessons Learned in Building a Media Empire ( I think you can guess why I loved this one)
- Building a Story Brand with Donald Miller Podcast, How to Make Your Call to Action Irresistible
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