Your online business is growing, bringing in new clients and revenue consistently. Great! But if it’s starting to get ahead of you, it might be time to hire a team member.
Maybe more and more of the time you used to spend on your area expertise – the thing you started the business for in the first place – is now tied up in routine administrative, financial, or marketing tasks. Or perhaps you’re in survival mode and your growth is stalling because there’s no time for business building. Maybe you’ve even reached capacity and need to turn work down. Or perhaps you’re only able to stay on top of things by catching up on the weekends.
Hold up. You started this business because you wanted to own your schedule. So why is it starting to feel like your schedule owns you?
These are all clear signs that it’s time to hire a team member. But how do you hire the right team member? Do you need a virtual assistant (VA), a project manager (PM), or something more? Let me break down your hiring options for you and give you some criteria to help you hire the right team member for your business.
Hire the Right Team Member – Your Options
A virtual assistant (VA) performs specific tasks, assigned by you. That is, you still manage the business functions or projects the VA works on, but she takes some related tasks off your plate. Virtual assistants only act because you’ve told them to. Therefore, a VA isn’t necessarily invested in your business and the planning and strategy behind it. They work off a checklist composed of whats that need to happen in your business.
On one hand, there are generalist virtual assistants who manage a variety of tasks much like a corporate administrative assistant. In contrast, many VAs focus and specialize in one or two areas, such as social media or email management. Other examples of VA specialization are research (e.g., keywords/SEO), proofing & editing, task automation, and data entry & reporting. Virtual assistants can also be highly specialized, offering services with specific online tools such as Dubsado, Kajabi, or Clickfunnels.
Bottom line: Virtual Assistants are task masters.
A project manager (PM) is the right team member to hire in two situations:
- When you need someone to manage a specific project (e.g., a product launch) for a set amount of time (i.e., until the launch is complete).
- When you need a team member to develop and manage business processes on an ongoing basis.
With a project manager, you continue to set the strategy, but she’s involved in the strategic and project planning processes. A project manager runs things for you, so she needs to know and create the hows of project execution, unlike a VA who just needs the whats. In fact, it’s now your project manager who’s going to come up with many of the whats.
Instead of giving the PM tasks to perform, you hand off one or more projects, and she develops the tactics for execution. She breaks down projects into actionable tasks. When you have a PM, she may be the one assigning tasks to your VA, if you have both roles. Planning projects, developing the processes, and overseeing everything – which may also include overseeing others on the team – is the sweet spot for project managers.
Bottom Line: Project Managers get shit done and report back to you.
If the term integrator is new to you, the simple explanation is they are online business managers (OBMs) with additional ninja skills and moves. The concept of the integrator (often “systems integrator”) originated in the IT world, where the role ensured all IT subsystems worked together and aligned with business strategy and goals. Gino Wickman and Mark C. Winters first defined the integrator role in a broader sense in their book Rocket Fuel: The One Essential Combination that Will Get You More of What You Want from Your Business.
Often, entrepreneurs hire an OBM when they have a grasp on the big picture but need help organizing the business. Like an OBM, the integrator doesn’t simply breakdown and execute projects you hand off to her. Instead, she becomes a partner who manages and runs your business. OBMs and integrators oversee multiple projects and team members, accelerating growth by developing consistent, actionable, and optimized courses of action. Holding the team accountable for implementation also falls within the domain of the OBM or integrator.
What Sets Integrators Apart from OBMs
Unlike the standard OBM, an integrator is a true, strategic partner. The integrator harmoniously unites your team and the major functions of your business. That is, she ensures your business systems work together harmoniously and align with your vision and goals. When you add an integrator to your team, you remain the visionary for your business, and the integrator not only fully understands that vision, she takes on the responsibility of bringing it to life. You’re the guardian of the vision. Your integrator is the guardian of the strategy.
In short, you set the vision; the integrator makes it happen.
At the highest level, an integrator provides you with insights and a fresh perspective, analyzes and validates your ideas, and helps you assess risks, diagnose problems, and develop solutions. She takes all of your ideas and brings them together for execution, aligning processes and keeping the team focused and unified. Specifically, the ability to simultaneously integrate business functions and systems, bring clarity to the team, allocate resources, prioritize, and automate is the hallmark of a true integrator.
At the more granular level, integrators are detail-oriented, data- and results-driven, and persistent. They possess keen problem and conflict resolution skills, and they’re masters of separating the essential from the trivial.
Therefore, the key benefit of adding a true integrator is that you maintain your ability to plan for the future while the integrator takes over team and process management. That is, partnering with an integrator gives you the freedom to hand off the day-to-day operations so you can focus on the vision and spend more of your time and energy on content creation, networking, and client relations.
Integrators perfectly complement visionaries (like you!) by aligning all the systems and players in your business.
Bottom Line: Integrators run shit by putting it all together to realize your vision.
Hire the Right Team Member – Decision Criteria
Now that you know about the types of roles, you can determine which is the right team member to hire, right now. In case you need a little more support, I’ve broken it down into hiring criteria for each role below.
A Virtual Assistant Is the Right Team Member to Hire If:
- You’re a solopreneur and you’re ready to hire your first team member.
- You need to get out from under tasks that take up too much time.
- You want to offload the tasks you constantly put off because you hate to do them.
- Your business is earning enough to justify hiring a team member, but you don’t yet have a huge budget for hiring out.
A Project Manager Is the Right Team Member to Hire If:
- You need to hire a team member who understands how the moving parts of your business fit together.
- You have a short-term project and you’d like someone else to manage it.
- Your existing team is comprised of 3 or so members.
- Your business is growing to the point where the higher cost of a project manager is justified.
An Integrator Is the Right Team Member to Hire If:
- You’re better at ideas than follow through and need someone to create order out of chaos.
- Your business includes multiple streams of income.
- You feel like you are becoming stagnant.
- You need to hire a team member who can manage and unify your existing team, which includes more than 3 members.
- You’re scaling your business and are operationally and financially ready for a higher-quality, higher-level partner.
Ready to Hire the Right Team Member for Your Online Business?
We can help! Lockrin Services Agency provides Full Boutique Service Support. We offer:
- Full strategic partner planning – Integrator-style business management with implementation support from a VA.
- Project management – Account management that smoothly transitions into your team and runs things for you.
Hop on a call with CEO Amy today to learn how we can meet your needs.