Should You Hire an Expert Integrator? Or Train Up Your Team?

business strategy Apr 07, 2020

How in the world do you get yourself an expert integrator or Digital COO? Do you just go out and hire one? Or do you train someone on your team to become your perfect COO? I know there are business coaches, and I won’t name names, that have amazing integrators and have built very strong teams that believe that the best way to to get your perfect integrator is to train them up from the mailroom essentially. They believe that you should start with someone at the very bottom and help them work their way up to becoming your integrator.

While I don’t always agree with this approach, there are a few reasons why I can see this as being a good idea. First, you build loyalty and a real partnership because you essentially trained this person over time and helped them grow into the employee that they are. Also you can teach them exactly what you want them to know. This can be an affordable option in theory because you don’t have to pay a premium rate for someone when you start them at the bottom.

But the biggest reason why this is often encouraged is when we see Digital CEO’s suddenly wanting to hire an integrator or COO because they are in a place of desperation and exasperation. The CEOs aren’t reaching their goals fast enough, they aren’t getting stuff done, or they just don’t understand all the steps in how to launch, so they think, “I know! I’ll hire an integrator and they will solve all my problems!”.  That is NOT the reason to go out and get an integrator because that’s just trying to throw money at the problem. If you want learn more about why hiring an integrator won’t fix your business, check out this blog post. And honestly to hire an expert integrator full time is going to be too expensive for most Digital CEO’s unless they’ve already built a mid six figure business.

However, there are some very big differences between taking the route of training up someone on your team into your perfect COO versus hiring an actual integrator, like me. Just a heads up - I’m not going to tell you what you should do, because for some people training up someone on their team might be the right choice, and for some it might be bringing on an experienced freelance integrator. I want to give you all the things to consider, so you can make the right choice for you and your business.

Let’s dig into some of the pros and cons to training someone up on your team. Now I already shared most of them above: you build a lot of loyalty, it can be really affordable because you start by paying them a low hourly rate, and you can mold them into the employee and team member that you want them to be. But there are a few other factors that I want you to consider. The first is time. It can take a long time to truly grow someone into an amazing integrator, like years possibly. Now I basically created the Digital COO Academy, which is my course about training COO’s, to help decrease that time, but it still will take time. If someone has to learn everything there is to know about online business strategy, launching, team management, and creating workflows & processes, it might take a while. So you have to be prepared for that and understand that they aren’t going to suddenly be this experienced, trained, amazing COO in a month or two.

Next, you need to consider the fact that you are a Digital CEO - a visionary, the face of the brand - and the reason you’re feeling like you need an integrator is because you know that details, management, operations, and processes are not your area of expertise. So how exactly are you going to teach someone else how to do that part of your business when you don’t even know how to do that part of the business? This is probably the biggest mistake I see happening when people take their VA, or someone on their team and just say “ok you are now my integrator, go integrate!” And this person is like “well what does that mean? What do you want me to do?” Of course it does not work out. Just because you gave them the role of integrator, does not mean that employee will know how to step-up and take charge. Training someone and molding someone into your perfect COO might be tough if you, yourself don’t know how to do that.

Now let’s talk about the money side for a moment. While yes, it can be more affordable at the beginning to pay someone a low hourly rate to train them up into your integrator. But keep in mind, it’s going to take a lot longer for them learn all the skills and transform into an integrator, so you’ll be paying more over time. Also there is a big misconception out there that all integrators are full time, and they have to be an employee, but that’s just not true! I mean look at me. I’m a freelance, part-time, contracted integrator.

I work part-time for each of my clients, usually about 15 hours a month (so like 3-4 hours per week) per client, and I manage their teams, tasks, and projects. I’m a contractor, not an employee, and believe me when I say that I get shit done. I’m still incredibly loyal to my clients, I’m in my second or third year with several of my clients and I adore them, their missions, and their teams. While yes, I’m not cheap and I don’t charge hourly, but if I did, I’m not charging VA rates of like $25-$35 per hour. But I’m also fast and as I said, I get stuff done. I already understand online business strategy and marketing and launch strategy (usually more than some of my clients) and I already have processes and workflows for everything in online business. Not only that, but I also have a network of other contractors like copywriters and VA’s and graphic designers that I can tap into and bring on to a team easily. Not trying to toot my own horn here, but just showing you that while you may pay a bit more at the beginning to bring on an experienced, trained, Digital COO, you might be able to reach your goals faster that way. And again, you don’t necessarily need to pay someone full time as an integrator, depending on where you’re at in business.

To learn more about the contractor versus employee status and my final thoughts on this topic, listen to this episode of Planning For Profit. 

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If you are a Digital CEO who's ready for a Digital COO/integrator and you think your current VA or team member might be a good fit? Take this quiz to find out!

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