5 Hiring Mistakes to Avoid When You’re Building Your Support Team

A padfolio with colorful letters spelling “Hiring” sits on a desk next to a laptop. Hiring mistakes are dangerous but avoidable for small business owners.

Are you at the point in growing your business where shit’s hitting the fan, it’s raining time-consuming tasks and projects, and you know it’s time to hire? Not so fast! Putting together an Avengers-like (or Justice League, pick your flavor) line-up of pros isn’t as simple as slapping a job description on a hiring site. If you want your team and your business to be successful, there are a few hiring mistakes I’m begging you not to make. 

Here are five of the worst things you can do when you’re building your support team. Don’t worry; I won’t leave you hanging, though–I’m also telling you how to do it right!

1. Hiring Without Understanding What Team Members Do

Virtual assistants, online business managers, integrators… they all pretty much do the same thing, right? Wrong. Before you start typing up a list of all the things you need help with, you have to understand what different team members do.

What’s that? You have no idea where to start? Let me break this down for ya:

  • Executive Assistants/Personal Assistants: EAs and PAs are usually direct assistants to a CEO and focus on both the CEO’s personal tasks and business tasks.
  • Virtual Assistants: different types of VAs are task-based employees or contractors who perform specific actions for your business. (Read on for my soapbox on VAs)
  • Project Manager: This is a supervisory role responsible for managing all aspects of a single project (like a launch, rebrand, or merger).
  • Online Business Manager: OBMs are not assistants. They work alongside the CEO and C-level suite to manage the entire business.
  • Integrator: Very similar to an OBM, integrators are often found in a COO role.  Integrators are usually FT employees in 7-8 figure companies with more access to sensitive company info.

Here’s that soapbox I mentioned: A VA is not a role. Is your mind blown? Stay with me here:

Graphic with "Virtual assisting is an industry, my friends, not a job."

Virtual assisting is an industry, my friends, not a job. VAs assist with specific areas in your business or even certain tools within those areas. Think a Kajabi VA or Podcast VA: awesome people who execute particular tasks. If you hire a “VA” to handle your podcast, inbox, and customer support, you’re in for a wild and frustrating ride. And if you have someone doing all that already?? Give them a raise right now!

So, back to your team (deep breath, Erika). Now that you have the gist of what these roles can do for your business, be honest with yourself about your needs and what sort of support will help you with them.

Hold on a minute, though! I want you to consider my next point before you start making offers and makin’ it rain on a virtual team.

2. Building Your Support Team Out of Order

You wouldn’t put cheese on a pizza before the sauce, would you? No judgment if you would, but let’s pretend we’re on the same page here for the purpose of this blog. Depending on where you are with your business (and, of course, your budget), an OBM or integrator is usually the best place to start. 

Say what?? Well, here’s the thing: VAs are task-based employees/contractors. So, if you can’t check off each item on this list before you hire one, you absolutely need an OBM or integrator to help you:

  • You have SOPs in place and time to train.
  • Your systems are on point.
  • You have an onboarding plan.
  • You’re crushing it with your task management tool. 

Once you’ve determined if you’re ready to roll or if you’ll be hiring an OBM or integrator to save your life (dramatic, maybe, not really, though), your next hire can be your VA. They’ll carry out the tasks you or your OBM/integrator assigns them, and if you have an OBM/integrator, they’ll manage your VA as well.

After you’ve got your VA locked and loaded, you can start looking at specialized positions: the ninjas on your team with specific skill sets needed for jobs like project management, technical virtual assistance, assisting with live launches, editing video, etc.

I know it can be tempting for an overwhelmed creative business owner to just hire a VA and hope for the best, but trust me: You want to bring your people on board in the order that will be best for your business and for them!

Alt-Text: A business owner virtually greets her virtual team. Not understanding which team member does what is one of the biggest hiring mistakes you can make.

3. Not Paying People The Right Salaries

Ever ordered a knock-off version of something on Amazon, opened the box, and realized the cheaper version was, well… cheap? Not surprising, right? That’s kind of what it’s like for a business owner to hire the cheapest option for a role. It might seem like a great deal, but you end up getting someone who isn’t quite what you need.

That’s why it’s so important to know what you should be paying members of your team. Sure, different experience levels call for different numbers, but there are some general ranges for each role:

  • EA/PA/VAs (Hourly): Basic tasks – $10-$20/hr, Mid-level tasks or experienced assistants – $15-$25+hr. Exception: highly experienced EAs can command $50/hr and up, and these admin professionals are in a bit of a special category of their own.
  • Project Managers (Flat fee per project): Varies wildly depending on the type of project, length, and complexity. It can be anywhere from $350 for a few Trello boards to $7,500+ for launch management.
  • OBM or Integrator (Monthly retainer or salaried employee): Expect to pay anywhere from $40-70+/hr for a retainer, depending on hours. Full-time salaried employees get anywhere from $55-90+k/year.

Let’s be real, here. You get what you pay for. Think about what you’re willing to invest for someone who knows their shit.

4. Haphazardly Throwing Together a Job Description

Job descriptions don’t have to be novels, but they do need a few essential pieces of information to give applicants a clear idea of what you’re looking for (and what you’re not). You don’t need to wax poetic about why your business is amazing or list 5,453 criteria an applicant should meet. 

Instead, get to the point with the info job-seekers need to know:

  • What will their tasks be? Get specific as possible about what this person will do, their responsibilities, how results will be measured. 
  • What’s their tech situation? Which software and programs do you use in your business, and how proficient do candidates need to be? 
  • What will you pay? Don’t hide this away until later in the interview process. Include it in your job post (or even a range) so everyone’s on the same page from day one.
  • How they can apply: Tell applicants exactly what you want them to send you, where to send it, and by when. Bonus points if you include a secret word or phrase to make sure they’re reading carefully (bonus-bonus points if it’s something witty).
A Post-It with “Job Description” written on it sits on a desk next to a laptop.

5. Forgetting About R-E-S-P-E-C-T

I don’t think anyone sets out to make their team feel unappreciated or disrespected, but you know what? It happens. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is not letting people who bust their asses to grow your business know they’re appreciated and respected. I’m not talking gratuitous thanks and praise, necessarily (feel free to shower me with mushy compliments anytime, though). I mean common courtesies, realistic expectations, and giving credit where it’s due.

Your team members have lives, and unless they’re full-time employees, other jobs. Show some respect for their time and boundaries. Who likes getting rapid-fire emails from a client expecting a response on your day off? That’s a hard no for me. Be sure to communicate expectations upfront so everyone’s on the same page when people join your team.

When someone does a great job, or you know they’re hustlin’ hard for you, give them some recognition! Get to know them, find out what motivates them, and keep that in mind when it’s time to reward them. 

Now, repeat after me, “I will read this blog twice more before I start hiring my team.” Ok, ok, that might not be necessary. In fact, I’ve got a handy guide with the 411 (are we still saying that?) on all things building your team. Grab your copy and get ready to rumble.


Related Posts: