The Importance of Having a Virtual Headquarters to Grow Your Remote Team
Welcome to this episode of The Determined Mom Show. Today I have a very special guest, Emma Ferrick, and she is the owner of Health Operations. Her official title is Operations and Systems Strategist.
I’m very excited to have you because this is something, the topic that we’re gonna talk about is the importance of having a virtual headquarters to grow your remote team. And this is something that in the last two years has become even more important than ever before. I think it’s an amazing topic. Tell us a little bit about you and your background, how you got started in operations and systems.
I was, Going to school for supply chain management, and operations management in my corporate field. So when I graduated, I went right into a manufacturing job with project scheduling, like project management, resource planning, and all that. It was very much focused on what I got my degree in. It was great for the experience, but at the time I was also a newly single mom at 22.
I was, you know, just struggling with the option of how do I incorporate doing what I went to school for, what I liked doing outta that job, but also being able to be home with my daughter more and have a more flexible work schedule and have more control over my income because of everything that was going on in my personal life.
I just knew I needed to be able to have that flexibility and control financially at the same. And so I started my VA business on the side. So I wanted more control and flexibility when I started my virtual assistant business because it was easy for me to get into. I was just offering a little bit of admin help.
Admin helps balance clients, on the side while working full-time still. I quickly realized that the pandemic happened probably six months after I started my business with daycare not available anymore. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to jump full-time into it because I had the interest of people, especially locally.
Who was going either to go remote or have to adjust what they were doing in their business? And so when I went full-time, I niche down, niche down into operations and systems. So what I’m doing now, and I started doing some consulting and project-based work instead of having the VA work as my only kind of revenue.
Once I went into that full time, messed around with, okay, how, what do I wanna offer? How do I wanna offer it? Which led to what Alpha Operations is today, which is focused on, operations, consulting, and building out teams. And with all the clients that I had and, last year, the focus was really on how do we build out and support this new structure or this new way of working, which was remote working or having team members and consultants.
Because a lot of the people or a lot of my clients were moms or female entrepreneurs who just wanted to have a better life. With their business and able to stay at home or work a flexible schedule. But then they ended up realizing, oh, well I need to kind of really focus on this CEO role, not just doing what I like to do.
There’s a little bit more into it and how do I structure this team so I do have that freedom and how do we communicate and things like that. So working on supporting other moms in that.
That’s awesome. I am a big advocate of supporting other moms, as you probably know from the podcast. But I love connecting with, you know, businesses that are helping moms in particular.
I’m very glad that you’re here and also very glad that we’re gonna talk about this. So what is the first step in having that virtual headquarters, and why is it so important?
To us with, you know, agencies or just even like a small, like solopreneur operation or coaching. I mean, there are so many different avenues that you wouldn’t, you might need a team.
Whether it be the team on the external side like if you’re, A lot of people I work with are service providers, so you’re having, building out that agency, there’s an important team factor that is gonna be client facing, or even if you have a coaching Or online business, there’s the team that’s gonna support you, admin wise, marketing-wise, all the internal stuff that’s gonna happen.
I think the biggest thing people are starting to realize is virtually the information in your business can be kind of all over the place. There’s. Different systems that you can house different information, and you can have a lot of things. Even the simplest example is not having your Google Drive organized in an optimal way that makes sense for other people.
Because I think the statistics that I last read about could be updated, enter like small business owners or business owners in general, they’re not organized and can waste anywhere from six to seven hours on average, a day looking for things, just pieces of information. How do you streamline that? Like making an actual process, not even a process, but a standard of this is how we organize things.
This is the naming convention, things like that. Like the small details that sometimes get overlooked. But having everything organized in a way that is searchable and organized Optum helps your team communicate and find the pieces that it needs so that you’re not bottlenecking the situation or the flow of information.
Because like I said, in a lot of the clients I’ve worked with, that’s been the main theme. Where, where does this information live, and how does it go from one part to the next? Cause you’re not always with an online business or service-based business, having a physical product go out all the time. So how do we manage that flow? In that process?
So you’re considering the virtual headquarters to be more of like the place where everybody can convene, where they can communicate, where everything is stored. Is there a possibility of like there being multiple virtual headquarters, or is that a bad thing to do?
I think that there are ways to have that, to collectively have that information all just drawn into one central location. So a lot of the time what we’re doing with my clients in making this virtual headquarters is it’s all based on a project management tool, I usually use click-up that I’ve set them up in other project management tools.
But there’s a way that you can use these tools to not just manage a project, but manage your business as a whole, where you can tie in a lot of those pieces of information. So it’s not that each system, like your Google Drive or your CRM, is your headquarters, it’s just housing certain information. But all having it in your tool, your project management tool slash headquarters, as easily found, easily accessible, and clearly stated for whoever might be joining your team.
So like an example would be we house a couple of the agencies, I set them up, we house all the team information, contact information because that’s also kind of, that’s often overlooked. Like how do I get in touch with someone who might be in a different state or a different country on this team? What hours do they work? What’s their content information like?
Because not everyone, when you’re, when you have a small business, Hierarchy’s not fully defined or mapped out, yeah, people don’t always have clearly defined roles, so it’s what are, what are the responsibilities of the contractor or this person who is part-time or full-time, and how do we manage that?
So there’s that information or you know, you have SOPs that live in Google Drive, but you connect it back so it’s easily found. In the, in the project management tool and just links back or, you know, I like using, with click up, they have embedded views, so that’s always nice because you can, instead of going out of the system, you can work within, click up on that Google Doc or Google spreadsheet if you’re mapping out your process there.
That’s awesome. I did not know that. I tried clicking up probably like four years ago I think, and yeah, I wasn’t into it, but now I use Freed Camp and I like it because it’s super robust. But let’s talk about my system and see if you think it’s a horrible system. So I have all of the files in Google Drive, and then it’s synced with Slack for our communication channel. And then, Free Up is like the virtual headquarters.
So free ups, like yours, how are you utilizing it as the virtual headquarters? Is that just storing the information? Or is it like where everyone has access?
Everyone has access to it, but it is more kind of like a resource for how, like processes and procedures and, and things like that. So are you linking the Google Docs and info back into there?
Then I feel like that’s usually how people will do it, especially if they don’t have the embed feature in their tool. Which is not anything, I mean, it is nice to have sometimes, but as long as you can link it back to the main source and or have video instructions wherever they may live. Like I know a lot of people will link to their loom, or that’s where they’re using their video instructions and things like that.
So what else do we need to consider when we are thinking about the virtual headquarters and growing our team? You know, with people all over the world potentially.
I think other than just making sure people, another part of what I’ve worked on with the clients is making sure each person has access to the right thing. So tracking, if you have a role or a contractor, what, where, what systems, or what software do they need to have access to?
Especially for, as part of their onboarding process and keeping track of that so it’s not duplicating. You know, they’re in the middle of doing a task and they find out they don’t have access to this piece of software or this. SOP because they don’t have access to the right part of Google Drive because things live everywhere.
So centralizing, and tracking the accesses required. Having a way to share passwords has been a huge thing that a lot of my clients have had issues with. So internally, a lot of people will keep some of their passwords, they’re not like high-risk passwords into their project management pool in a place that is, can be secure.
So only whoever is on the team has access to it. Like sometimes we won’t always. Contractors. So it depends on that as in a case-by-case scenario of, you know, is this contractor just doing certain things? How much information do they need to have access to? So that’s another thing to look at when.
Looking at the virtual headquarters in the project management tool, can you restrict certain areas of the tool to just like your team members or like limit how much a contractor has access to based on your relationship with them? Cause you know, I’m a contractor for most of my clients, but I have a lot of access because I’m an OBM for them.
I need access to reduce bottlenecks. But we have a longer-term partner. Kind of mapped out, but it’s, you know if you have a one-time off a project-based client or project-based contractor, you don’t want them to have all your passwords, but like, how do you convey this, the information that you need easily?
That’s one example that comes to mind, but also, You don’t need them to have access to every client information or project piece that you need. That would be some of the biggest things that have come up with a lot of the clients in their hub how do I store this because sometimes the last pass doesn’t work? How do we get around codes and make sure the team has access and it’s not causing them to delay an attack? Because especially with kids entering time zones.
You know, you have to be aware. At least that’s what we’ve been dealing with on a lot of the teams is the time zone of, okay, I’m, and that’s where my background comes in, I feel like, is how do I backward schedule this deliverable that needs to be done by a certain time, but I need to then also factor in, okay, this team member that I’m assigning it, You know, they work at a different time zone.
I need to make sure I’m factoring that in with the due date, giving some buffer in case there are issues. A lot of people will like it, I’m just gonna sign this right now for tomorrow, but they don’t even have access to everything they need to complete the task, correctly. And then there’s luck.
So make sure you can factor in for that. Like, I know things need to happen quickly for a lot of projects, which is understandable, but some tasks you have to factor in. A little bit of a timeframe, especially for a bigger project.
Definitely. I have a project just like that now that I’m still waiting for access to different things and I’m waiting for them to purchase a plugin so I can fix this and that. And they’re like, they wanted it done yesterday, and I’m like, well, I don’t have everything that I need to do it. Like I can’t.
Not to cut you off, but the thing that came to mind is when I was working with consulting projects like that, that having that stuff in the hub as well, like even every small deliverable and like whether they’re waiting, it’s waiting on me or waiting on the client so that I also have a historical record for myself of, you know, how, how has the project progressed, what’s our communication been like?
That info is there and I can keep track of it, okay? This is I’m waiting on you, or do they need to provide me access to this? So holding even your team members accountable. People sometimes don’t put enough details in there, and then that’s how sometimes things will get missed.
That’s so true, I love that you’re talking about these things because they’re like, it’s like the little tiny things that screw up our day, you know like it can just mess up your day. Like, oh, I think I’m gonna get this done and this done and this done, and then you’re like, You know like I can’t get that done.
I love that. And I have a question for you. Since you work with a lot of companies and people that are, you know, hiring virtual team members, where is the best place that you’ve seen to source virtual team members from? So I think it depends. I’m gonna say it depends on the type of role you’re hiring for.
Okay. So, it depends on the type of team that you wanna build out, as an agency owner or as a business owner. Do you know? Because full-time people and part-time employees, I feel like you’re gonna, that’s a whole different potential client than a contractor who you might hire out where. Or a contractor slash consultant who maybe is a little bit more of an expert.
Because you know, a lot of people will be like, well, what is the difference between you and a VA? And I’m like, well, the VA is going to be doing tasks that you want. And you need to be mapping a lot of things out where I’m gonna come in with my area of expertise and help you think of the next couple steps and help you implement that stuff.
Especially when I was doing more OBM work and project management work, they didn’t understand, some people didn’t understand the difference. Because you want people on your team that’s gonna be implementing and then there’s gonna be or if you’re doing a project that requires branding, like a branding expert or a marketing expert who’s consulting for you at a short period to give you more expertise in something than just doing it.
Like some people will implement for you, but hiring full-time or part-time is gonna be different. I feel like those places where you’re gonna find the best kind of candidates, You know, using a type of indeed and the consideration comes up a lot of, does this role wanna be more local?
Because I’ve seen a lot of online business owners who have remote people, but they want their assistant or their EA in, in the town with them, or they just have, so it’s really like mapping out what you want from that role and the type of person that you want. Because I’ve had success with people finding referrals out of like networking groups or Facebook groups for a contractor or a consultant.
But if you’re gonna go the full-time route, I feel like Indeed. Or hiring yourself, like kind of putting out the application. Building out the application yourself is super important. And then also going through the proper hiring steps. Not just like, not just maybe depending on the role, you might need more than a discovery call.
Like, which is very standard in our business. In our industry. But if you’re hiring someone, I might say, like, see if you can do a one-off paid project with them, or a trial run type of thing. That makes so much sense. I don’t know if that was in enough detail or too much detail. Yeah. But it varies on the type of role and what you want for your business.
That’s awesome. I completely understand that. It makes so much sense. I think this. An amazing episode because you’ve given us so much information and so many things to consider actually, like when you think about it, like your project management tool where you store everything, like what, you know, there’s just literally a huge list of things that you’ve given us to think about.
So do you have any resources for, business owners that are looking to kind of figure all of this out and get to a point where they can grow their team and have this amazing remote virtual team?
So right now what I have out in fact accessible that’s not in the works is I have my check stack workbook. That is an exercise I run through with my clients or when I’m consulting people just to walk through how to pick the right check for their business. And in a way that’s not overwhelming, because a lot of people will just be.
What tool do I need and research it to death? So this is a way to quickly compare, you know, three to four options that you’re looking at and how to implement it quickly into your business. And then I have my master’s class. It’s an Evergreen master class that gets delivered right to your email and you can sign up.
Walk you through, I think, four training sessions on, you know, how to identify your operation strategy for the next quarter, and identifying key metrics and then. Once you have those things in place, we talk about, you know, what part of the support process you need?
Do you need tech or do you need people and when to pull them in, that’s usually the order of what we walk through with my clients. So this is a way for you to get the training from me to get started and have your, you have access to a workbook and access to ask me questions.
That’s awesome. I love it. And that’ll be in the show notes, so if you’re looking for that link, you can find it there. And I think it’s, really, Cool that you’re offering that extra help, like that access to you in the masterclass, because sometimes you just buy a masterclass, and then you’re like, okay, now what?
Do you know? But I will, especially in the field that you’re in, where there are so many variables and so many different business models and questions and all of those things, so keeping that in mind, it’s, it’s very interesting and very, very helpful for you to, to provide that for people.
That’s why, and I also just love that aspect of, with a live masterclass, you can ask questions, but I didn’t want anyone to feel obligated to always be live and, and that doesn’t jive with how I wanna run my business.
So let people access it, watch it on their own time, and then can respond via email or loom, especially. Business, I’ve noticed with tech, sometimes people just wanna send a little screen recording. Be able to show me so I can give them a better answer.
Well, thank you so much, Emma, for coming on and sharing your amazing knowledge and everything that you do with us. I feel like we’ve picked your brain and we’ve got so much information that we all are gonna go, you know, implementing now.
Where is the best place for everyone to find you online? So you can find me firstname.lastname@example.org or on Instagram at EL Operations. Awesome. Thank you so much for being here, Emma. Thank you so much for having me, Amanda. I’m so glad that we got to connect. Me too.
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