Should You Hire a VA or an Integrator First?

business strategy May 18, 2020

So, should you hire an integrator or a virtual assistant first? This is a question I get asked a lot. It is essentially asking whether you should you build your team beginning with an integrator or build your team with other roles first and later add an integrator into the mix. This is a great question because there are so many different ways to build a team. I’ve definitely made my share of poor hires or been in instances when I’ve hired the wrong people for the wrong roles in my business and I don’t want you to make that same mistakes.

In fact, back in my wedding planning days, I brought on an assistant wedding coordinator to my team and she was fantastic on wedding days, she took direction well, she was a quick thinker and good problem solver, so naturally I wanted her to do more in the business. I asked if she wanted to take on a bigger role in the business and she said yes, so I started handing her all sorts of tasks; I had her managing social media, writing blogs, coordinating with vendors, and really just anything I didn’t want to do. But before long I found that nothing was getting done, she was rarely posting on Instagram, we had a backlog of weddings that needed to be blogged, and other tasks and details were falling through the cracks. I finally had to ask what was up and she admitted that she just really didn’t like all the marketing tasks, it just wasn’t what she was passionate about. She hated writing blogs and curating photos, but she loved planning weddings and running the wedding day and she was good at those tasks. I had incorrectly thought that just because she was capable and has skills in one area, that those would transfer to other areas and that’s clearly not how it works.

That’s why it’s so important that we always consider what someone’s zone of genius is and make sure that we are hiring them for that area and putting people in the right roles in our business. I learned that lesson the hard way. This usually means that you are not going to be able to hire a jack of all trades VA who’s going to be able to do everything in your business from run Facebook ads, to build your website, to manage your social posts, and write your copy. I understand that the thought of hiring 6 team members and managing all those people can be overwhelming, versus trying to find a magical unicorn that can do everything you need. But that’s where the integrator or COO role comes into play. The COO is in charge of managing the team in an online business. So that means that you probably should have at least the beginning of a team established before you bring on a Digital COO or integrator.

And here’s the big reason why - an integrator is not an executor, they are an organizer, a planner, and a manager. Integrators take the big ideas and goals of the CEO and plan out the strategy and all the steps needed to make those ideas a reality. They then organize all that information into processes, workflows, projects, and tasks, and then the dole it all out to the team, all while making sure that everyone is supported in getting their part done. As one of my clients always says, my job is like herding cats sometimes. The integrator is the one making sure all the pieces of the puzzle are coming together, everyone is on track at all times, and troubleshooting when things don’t go according to plan. They are the ones keeping the team focused and accountable.

So at any given time, I’m not the one actually executing on tasks. I’m not posting things on Instagram, I’m not writing copy, I’m not building pages in Kajabi, instead I tell other people to do all that stuff. Being an integrator is pretty fun guys. I get to play all day in Asana making lists and charts and playing with numbers and data, and I also get to tell people what to do. I mean I was always known as the bossy kid growing up. I was literally the kid that when someone else said “I’ve got an idea!”, I was the one that then said “Ok guys, here is what we’re gonna do…this is what we need to make all this happen…you’re going to do this…and GO!”. And that’s basically my life now too, but for businesses and it’s amazing!

So getting back to the original question - I don’t believe an integrator should be a first hire for an online business owner. I think it’s really important to start with an executor, a VA. Again keep in mind that most likely they won’t be a jack of all trades. But they will be able to take a lot of those $10 per hour tasks off your plate, so that you can start focusing on the bigger picture tasks - the things that really move the needle forward in your business. Now you will have the time to be the voice and the face of your brand, create new offers, and serve people - all things that only you, as the CEO, can do. To hear more about when when in the team building process my clients reached out to me and who on your team may be ready to step into an integrator role, grab your headphones and listen to this episode of Planning For Profit.

One final point I want to make (which I discussed more in depth in last week’s episode), is that an integrator isn’t meant to save your business. So bringing one on when you don’t have a team, you don’t have executors, and you don’t understand strategy is not going to magically fix everything. But if you have a converting offer, recurring monthly revenue, and a small team of even one or two VA’s, you might be ready to bring on that Digital COO to help your business and your launches really take off.

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