#129 - In this week's episode of Subscription Box Basics, you will meet Abbey Ashley of Hello Savvy. Abbey will help us understand more on how freelancers in general can help you grow your business. Abbey will also talk about her new platform “Hello Savvy” - a platform to hire freelancers. So grab your pen and paper now and take note of the things that you might need when hiring a freelancer for your business.
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So you wanna launch a subscription box and don't know where to start. Girl, you are in the right place. I'm Julie Ball, a subscription box coach, and your host here at subscription box basics, a podcast for new and aspiring subscription box entrepreneurs that want to avoid overwhelm. So grab a coffee, some pen and paper, and let's have some fun. Hey everybody. And welcome back to subscription box basics. I'm your host Julie Ball. Today. I'm talking to a friend that you've heard on episode number 64. I have Abbey Ashley on the podcast today. And the last time she was on the podcast, we talked about how a virtual assistant can help you grow your business. Well, we're talking today more about how freelancers in general can help you grow your business and how Abbey's new online software. Her new platform can help you with that. So welcome to the podcast. Welcome back, Abbey.
Thank you. I always love chatting with you, you and I go way, way back.
We do. And it's crazy to see the growth of both of our businesses. And it's so fun to have those people that have gone through the journey with you. Cuz I think, I feel like as entrepreneurs, it sometimes feels like we're on an island. Sometimes we feel like we have to make all the decisions we have to wear all the hats, but we're kind of going to talk a little bit about that today because you don't have to do this all yourself. You can hire contract workers, freelancers to help you in parts of your business that you might not like to do or that you might not have the skill set to do. So let's start by an introduction
For sure. So as you said, my name's Abby Ashley and I run two separate companies. One is the virtual savvy and I teach people how to start their own virtual assistant business. And then more recently we have started a second company called hello savvy and hello savvy is a platform to hire freelancers. And it's really the goal is to help you find mission minded freelancers, cuz there's one thing that I've learned over years and years of hiring, uh, freelancers and employees really is that you want somebody who believes in your business shares common values and can really get on board with the mission of your company. And so we're integrating that in so many different ways into our platform. And so, uh, you know, as we chat today, my biggest overarching, um, I guess message that I want to send. If you're at a place where you feel like, I think I'm ready to hire maybe again or for the first time is just remember like you are creating the business that you want to be in.
Yes. And I think, you know, we were kind of chatting about this before is that you can work and you can work and you can work and you can work and you can hustle and you've been grind and all the things. And then you can step back and look at what you've created and do you enjoy what you're sitting in right now? and if the answer is no hiring may be, uh, the thing that you need to get you to that point. Sometimes it's not, you know, sometimes it is a different solution, but um, hiring oftentimes can free you up to be the CEO that you actually wanna be. So we'll dive into all of that today, but uh, yeah, I've been in this online space since 2016. I've I've lived it, I've breathed it online business, hiring all the things. So I'm excited to chat today.
I love your message just to start with, because when I was in my first year running sparkle hustle grow my subscription box for women entrepreneurs. One of the things that I don't know how to say this, like it emotionally shifted me when I would get a dispute or an unhappy customer or a cancellation. And it was probably somewhere around six or nine months where I was like, this is emotionally draining. Like I cannot do customer service anymore. And that was my first hire. And I was lucky enough to meet Renee at the boss, mom retreat. And we've very quickly became friends and figured out that we were very like minded in that like we worked with the golden rule in mind, like treat others how you wanna be treated and over deliver. And so she was my first hire and that really, really changed things for me. And so I'm really excited to kind of dive deeper into that. Let's start with kind of just talking about like what is a freelancer, what is a contract worker? Because a lot of the people listening to this podcast are new in business or maybe they are solo entrepreneurs wanting to, to make that first hire. So like, we're not talking about hiring someone on a salary here and paying all the taxes and all those things that you, you know, you that come along with full-time employees, we're talking about freelancers and contract workers,
For sure. And I think that for most of us, it is the best type of first hire to make would be a contractor there. Um, you know, there's a lot of intricacies and there are a lot of honestly rules and things that you have to set up, um, for hiring freelancers and, and employees, but more so with employees, right? There's, you know, uh, talking through like state taxes and potential workers compensation and, and, and benefits and employee handbooks. And there's, there's so much, um, that is necessary in order to hire employees. And at a certain point in business, it does become, I think, more beneficial to hire an employee for certain roles. Mm-hmm <affirmative>. But uh, for most of us just starting out, hiring a contract worker, some benefits of that. Um, number one is that a contract worker you don't have to have, I mean, you can literally start higher today.
they have their own contracts, they have their own way of working. They will onboard you. Right? So with a traditional employee agreement is that somebody will come into the company and you will say, okay, here's all of our policies. Here's how we work. Here's how, you know, you dictate how they will work essentially. Um, that is like what an employee is. Whereas a contractor, they come to you as their own specialist saying, here's how I work. Here are my systems for working here are my processes. Here's how you'll pay me. Right. They are their own business owner that you were paying to do a service. And so that, um, I think is a, a really a benefit, especially for newer people, because sometimes you do just need somebody to, to say you take the wheel, like and, and show me how to go about doing this. Right? And so that is one major benefit to hiring a contractor. Um, and there's, I mean, there's so many others, the fact that, you know, you can hire for as much or little, you can hire for one time projects. It doesn't have to be ongoing. You could hire contractor simply to set up your Pinterest to account or simply to build a new website, whatever it may be. So there's, um, there's a lot of benefits in my opinion, to hiring a contractor, a freelancer versus an employee, especially if you're first getting started.
Yeah. So when you think about a contract worker, as you're listening to this podcast, think about like some of the things that you might like might need to take off your plate. So for me again, that was customer service, but other examples of these contract workers could be someone to manage your social media. maybe that's someone to, like you said, build a website or even graphic design. Those can be ongoing things. I think I, I wanna say it was maybe 10 hours a month that I started with Renee, like very, very small amount of time, but I just, that's all I could start with. Yeah. And I just needed a little bit of help. And as we grew the business, then I was able to give her more hours and I needed her for more hours and more things. So think about like, what are some of those things that, you know, you don't like to do, or, or maybe you don't wanna learn.
like, there's some things at this point where I'm like, I just, I know I need to do this, but I don't have the time or the capacity or the desire to learn a new software or to learn how to run Facebook ads or, you know, all those things. So I find that contract workers are a really, really good solution to a lot of those problems that we as entrepreneurs find ourselves, especially in those early, early years. So if someone is thinking about hiring, then I know you've got some tips that you can share. Like where, where do you even start?
Yeah. So I think that a huge, a huge part when I was hiring for the first time and as I've guided other people through how to hire is really first painting a picture of what you want, right? Like at the end of the day, this business, uh, is to serve the life that you are trying to create for yourself, for your family, right. The legacy that you wanna lead, all of that. And so, and, and, you know, it's that whole, like entrepreneurs are the only ones that'll work like 80 hours a week to avoid working 40 and what that whole thing. Right. And I mean, why do we do that? Why? And, and if you're going to be spending the time, the energy, hopefully not 80 hours a week please. Right but like, if you're going to be spending the time and the energy and the sacrifices and the tears and the hustle and the stress of running a business, because it is all of those things, if you're going to do that, you might as well freaking enjoy it.
Right and so one of the things that I've learned over time is that, um, when, how, how do you, how do you build a job for yourself that you enjoy most of the time you're gonna enjoy what you're doing most when you're just living out your strengths. And so when I talk about like defining your CEO role, the amazing thing about it is that your you CEO, you Julia's CEO looks entirely different than me, Abby, as CEO. I think that sometimes we get this, like there's a blueprint and a CEO has to do these things. That's actually, couldn't be furthest from the truth. Because if you are the CEO of your company, you enjoying that role as CEO means that you wake up every day and you get to live and operate in your strengths and that's when you're gonna enjoy it the most. So I think that it really starts with discovering your own strengths. What do I enjoy? What do I like doing? Because if you are operating in your strengths, you're gonna wake up every day, excited to do your job. And again, why do any of this? If you're not.
So at first, when you start a business, you oftentimes don't know that because you're wearing all the hats. So you're doing all the things because that's kind of, sometimes you get scrappy and sometimes that's what you have to do. But over the years I found you, you probably find this surprising, like I find it very therapeutic to work in the warehouse. Like I love packing the orders, putting on a label, thanking that person for their order and shipping off the order. Like, I find that very therapeutic, whereas a couple years ago, that was not my sweet spot. That was not fun for me. And I hired out, like we used a fulfillment site center off site. So why I'm telling this story is because things can change too. Like the picture of you as a CEO in year one might look very different than the picture of you as CEO in year five. And that's okay. because you are the CEO, you get to paint that picture if things change that's
Okay. Yep. So I think that looking at, you know, what am I currently doing? um, I always tell, and it's like, Ugh, nobody wants to do this, but a time study can be so revealing if you take one week, possibly two weeks and just take that time to just track what you're doing while you're working. Right. So you could use a tool like toggle. It's like a free time tracking tool. You could use just a, you know, a Google doc or a spreadsheet you can use. There's tons of different tools out there that you could use to do this, but really tracking your time for a week. And, um, and then going back through and evaluating it, and you can even have kind of a like enjoyment rating or like a right, how much of this is like my skills and things that I like doing.
And there's certain times that it's something that you enjoy doing, but it's just not something you wanna do for this season or something that you don't enjoy, but you're gonna have to keep doing it, cuz it just has to be done and you can't afford to hire it out or whatever it may be like it's not the end all be all, but it's always really telling every I'm always like kicking and screaming, going into a time study. I don't wanna do it. I don't wanna do it. And then when I get to the other end, I'm like, oh my gosh, this was so revealing. So yeah, I think that, you know, two huge tools in this first step, the first step, in my opinion, if you're gonna be hiring a free freelancer is to really grasp a vision of what your CEO role is. And so, um, the, the tools in order to do that, I would say would be a time study and, and really defining your own strengths.
So strength finders, if you haven't read like the Clifton strength finders and taken that whole test, I'm a huge fan of it. I think it's probably been one of the most defining, um, points in my business was when I realized, oh, these are my top five strengths. Like, what if I could just do those things? Like, and no, maybe my life doesn't look like right now only doing those things, but what if I could set my, my path, right? What if I could set my, like the, the, the GPS to that destination of like, that's what I'm aiming for is to wake up and mostly be operating just in my, my strengths. That's what the perfect CEO role, because that's where you're gonna be the happiest, right? Like if you're operating in your shakes, you're gonna be the happiest there. Yeah. So like set that as your trajectory and then work backwards. Right. So what are the things that don't line up with those strengths that you don't enjoy right now that don't make you happy? All right. That, that can help you to start forming the job role that you may wanna hire for next.
That's so interesting that you're talking about that because we have some kind of unconventional KPIs, key performance indicators here at sparkle hustle grow. Um, we look at the obvious ones, you know, churn and boxes sent and revenue and all that. But we also look at, um, the, we call it the joy meter. Nice. Like how excited are we about this project? Um, and then we also look at the ease of doing business. Like if something's gonna be super complicated and we're gonna have to like tie together six different softwares and there's a high probability of, you know, something breaking, we just, we figure out a different game plan. Um, so I, I love that you're talking about finding your strengths so that you can find your joy. Yeah. And I, I honestly think we all need to keep those, those concepts in the back of our mind, as we determine whether we're gonna say yes or no to projects or to collaborations and things like that
A hundred percent. Yeah. Yeah.
So the next thing I would say, um, then you just kinda say, you can come up with, like, after that exercise, you literally may be like, all right, well, I don't like doing social media. I don't like doing customer service. I don't like doing this or this or this or this or this. And, uh, the reality is, is that you might not be able to hire all of that out in the beginning. right. And so at that point, I usually tell, um, people to look at budget. I think that that's, and it's often just a big question that people have is like, how do I know I have the budget to hire someone? So, um, you know, when you're looking at how much money your business is making, you definitely wanna look at over time, uh, if you're gonna be hiring somebody for an ongoing role , then you wanna make sure it wasn't just last month that you could afford 'em, but probably the past, you know, three to five months then it's like, yes, I consistently can afford this.
And this gets really, um, this can get really difficult as well because everybody wants just like that magic number. Like how much, what dollar amount should I pay a person? Yeah. Or what percentage. And it is really so dependent on your business. So, you know, at my, I, I have an online course and our digital course, we can spend in like the 30% range on team. Like we spend a ton on team and on, on people, right? Uh, like, like, uh, paying people is a huge portion of our expenses. Now that is largely because we do a lot of manual advertising. We do a lot of organic advertising. And so, um, you know, somebody else, our, our advertising budget, like what we spend on Facebook ads, right? Basically is really low compared to a lot of other online businesses. And so what we, what we spend on team is bigger.
What we spend on ads is lower. What you spend on product right. Might be really high so that this needs to be lower. So I think that at the end of the day, it is coming to a, like, you, you start with your profit, like at all expenses, I am, I'm not going to, I'm not willing to go below this profit number. Okay. You have to know what that is for you, you know, at our business, like 30% profit is, um, and I'm talking like, like total net profit at the end of the day after we've paid everything, not just like. Um, so at the end of the day, I really like a 30% profit at the bare minimum. Some people like there's some businesses that look like Nope, 10%, we're good. Some businesses are like 50%. Like it literally, you have to know what that is for you and for your business. Um, and you can ask other people what is standard in your industry? I think that's fine. And you might even have like a good, a good number. Me
Too. Yeah. For box businesses, we recommend 30 to 50% profit margin, um, to make it sustainable long term.
Yeah. I think I,
It just, you might not get there right away. No. You know, and as far as like buying products, for example, we can, if we buy a hundred books, we might pay one price, but if we buy a thousand books, we're gonna get that, you know, um, discount for buying more. And so while we say 30 to 50% is kind of the game plan and the goal, it's a moving target.
Yes. Yeah. And you look at your cumulative over the year, which is again, why it's good to look at your budget over a long term. So yeah, that would be, you know, kind of the next step is just really deciding, okay. Out of everything, how much do I want to spend on team, on paying other people, knowing that that kind of investment has a direct, a direct result on potentially your happiness, potentially your growth ex you know, the growth of your company, like team is one of, in my opinions, the best investment. So even if you're looking and you're like, I just don't have the reoccurring financial look at what you're spending and say, are there other areas I could potentially cut back because they're not bringing me the joy. They're not freeing up my time so that I could put more into my team budget. So budget, I think is the next indicating factor after you, like, kind of decide your role, you look at budget and then you decide, all right, who is my next hire? That would be step number three.
Okay. So that could be a variety of things. So you kind of have to like really not make like a knee jerk reaction here. You really need to think through some of this stuff before you make those hires. Yeah. Even though it might feel painful, like I need to hire someone right now to do this. You it's in your best interest and in the freelancer's best interest to make sure you're clear on your path here.
Yeah, for sure. And I will say this too. I want to, um, like learn from my mistakes right. And this is first of all, I don't know if you could say this too, but everybody I've mentioned to that's like been in business a while so far has agreed with this statement. It has never worked out for me to hire somebody that I think is gonna come in and save the day for my business. Yeah.
I think that sometimes we hear a podcast about how awesome YouTube is, or we hear these amazing results. People are getting on Facebook and you're like, I don't, I don't have that. I have a knowledge gap. I have this, whatever. Um, so that that's gonna be my silver bullet. And it is, it is so easy to have silver bullet syndrome and this online space. So everybody's online talking about their successes and nobody's talking about their failures. Right. And so, oh yeah. Like I have never hired a silver bullet. I have hired amazing people who have taken the things that I already have going, or the plan I already have in my business. And they implement it and they improve it and they use their own skill and expertise to take it to levels that I never could have taken it to, but I've never had somebody come in and say, you know, like come in and just completely transform my business and be the silver bullet that made it all click, you know, I think
I can agree. Yep. I, I mean, I can think of very specific moments. A lot of them had to do with making hires that were a larger budget than I anticipated, because I'm like, oh, well, you know, if they can charge this much, they must be really good. And specifically talking about, um, some ad agencies that I've used in the past one was for Google ads. I thought that that might be, I had never tried Google ads before. I didn't wanna learn it. And I'm like, Ooh, maybe this is that silver bullet. Maybe this is where my people are gonna buy. And you know, like it didn't work out like I expected. Yeah. And so there's a, you have to, you know, monitor things. And there was a point where I was like, okay, it's time to cut bait because we're not making money. We're losing money off of this. Um, so it doesn't make sense to continue. So sharing that because yes, that was a failure. That was something that I thought was gonna make a massive impact. Um, might have been a little bit outta my budget and I tried it anyhow. You're right. Not nobody's talking about the failures. Maybe we should have a failure series on the project.
I know. Oh, that'd be awesome. Yeah. Right. I say, I say, you know, like higher expecting the gasoline, not the match. Like you, you're not, you're, you're not hiring somebody to come in and light the fire that never existed in that area of your business before light, like hire somebody, even if it's like this small, tiny flame, you're like, I have this thing. I ha it's it's that great yet, but I want somebody to come and run with it that has just always gone over so much better for me than having somebody come in. And, and me just thinking that they're gonna be the person to, to blow it all up. So that would be that. So really defining who is that next hire, you know, keeping in mind, they're not gonna come in and say, if I hire a marketing person, then I'll have sales. No, you probably need existing sales. You need people buying your thing. You need a good strategy and a good product. And, and then have somebody come to pour some gasoline on it. So who is that next person? Look at your time study, look at the role you want to be creating work backwards, look at your budget. And then come to that conclusion.
I just have to say, this was on the top of my mind. When you say, look at your budget guys, it's you also get what you pay for. So it is not a race to the bottom or to like the cheapest contract worker or the cheapest hourly rate. Um, make sure that you're getting, like, you look at history, you maybe connect with a few of their clients.um, there there's so much to be set. I mean, we could do a whole episode on you get what you pay for, right. <laugh>
Yeah, yeah. A hundred percent. And that honestly leads me to my last point, which is, you know, kind of where to hire. And so there are, there are tons of places to hire and yes, we are creating a hiring platform. So yes, I will tell you to go to hello, savvy.com to look for your next hire. I, I'm not naive to say that it's the only place to hire also I think that, um, you know, if you have a current audience, that's always a really great place to at least start your search. Yeah. Is, Hey, um, you know, you might think like, oh, I sell a subscription box that has knives. Like these people aren't like online business, whatever, but you just never know. And right. And the thing is that I have learned too, is that, um, you know, people who can connect with your mission.
So if they're already on your list and they already obviously care about what you care about, then sometimes you can train for the skill a little bit. Right. And I'm, and, and again, you like, like get somebody, I want you to hire people with experience. Yes. And that is one of the things you can search for on hello savvy. But what we're doing that is different is that we are creating a platform that truly aims to connect small business owners with freelancers who have similar shared values, who that can connect with your mission. So as a, um, you know, as a business owner, before you post a job on our site, we actually ask for your company mission and values. Right. And so might take you a second to say, okay, let me, let me get those together. If I don't have 'em right.
But we want our freelancers to read those, to connect with them, to be able to shoot a video with their application, to you to say why they resonate with your mission and values. Because again, you can train for skill, you cannot train for culture and for values fit. And so that's really how we're trying to change the game when it comes to hiring. Cuz we've seen the difference. I know you've seen the difference, Julie, when you hire somebody who just gets it. Yeah. And you're, you can be willing to, again, I'm not saying completely forgo skill. Right. Um, but yeah, it just makes all the difference in the world. So that's what we're building over at. Hello savvy. Um, it's, it's an incredible platform. Hello, savvy.com. Check it out because that's, that's what we're doing over there.
Nice. So what would be the first step like for hello? Savvy is like, when is it like if I'm a subscription box business owner and I'm like, okay, I need someone to run my Pinterest. I would go there and post that as like a job that your freelancer marketplace, then people would self identify as that is. I'm qualified for that. That sounds like it aligns with my values. I'm going to apply for that job. And it all happens on the platform. Right?
Correct. So it's too, uh, it'd be two sided for you as a business owner for you as a, um, you know, a subscription box owner, you could come and post job opportunities and have the people apply and we have this proprietary job matrix that helps you kind of decide who is the best fit it's, it's, it's fun. It's like kind of like a drag and drop Trello board that, that you can go and kind of search through all of the different people. uh, that have applied for your job opportunity. But if you're not really ready to apply or, or to post a job opportunity, we also just have a freelancer library. And I really love our freelancer library because our freelancers have, um, the ability to put their personality and their own, um, their own flare, I guess, to their profiles. Right. So profiles are incredibly individualized.
Um, nice as far as even like branding colors and they can upload examples of their work and they can have, um, you know, videos on there. And it's, it's just a really, it's a really neat profile experience. but then our search experience. So you literally could type in Pinterest manager, you could search by how much experience they have. You could literally say, I want a marketing assistant, who's an engram seven and search that way because you can filter and search by personality type. So there's a lot of nuances because we're, again, we're trying to, just to put the human element, it's not a race to the bottom dollar. It is finding a real connection and somebody that's gonna resonate with your business. So that's what we're building.
I love that because it is going to result in so much more success for both parties to find companies that you wanna work for. And for, for business owners like myself, to find people who wanna show up and do the work and get excited about your brand. It just really sounds like a dream I've have hired you, you know, this, I have hired people through some of the other platforms and it feels very transactional. We've had some success with it. We've had some failures with it as well. And so what I'm most excited about is that, that connection, um, like that human connection, like you were sharing where people will, will align. I, I think that's really important. Um, one of the things that we have in some of our email sequences, for people who are just meeting us, maybe they sign up for our lead magnet or whatever.
We talk about our leading principles. And so we talk about that golden role. We talk about, we are a work hard, play hard kind of attitude over here. And we want to make sure that they know that we're all about women, empowering women and collaboration over competition. And for them to know that stuff up front, they can either kind of weed them self out as if this isn't meant for me as a, as you know, a product or, oh my gosh, I love that. I need this. Yeah. And so that same approach that we took to that we kind of take to our potential subscribers. We can now take that same approach when we're hiring for new people on our team on hello savvy.
So as you're listening to this, if you're really excited, like I am, you wanna go over to hellosavvy.com and sign up for the wait list. It will be available, um, early this fall, like to actually put your job opportunities on there. And you know, if you think about it too, a lot of our, the people listening might have a skillset that they could also be a freelancer and make some money on the side. So go check it out. Um, where else can they follow you guys? Abbey?
Yeah. So we are like, like Julie said, hellos.com and you can also find us over at, uh, on Instagram at hellosavvyco and yeah, we're excited to have you guys come on, join us, join the wait list, spread the word. We're so excited. Um, it's, it's, we're, we're here to change the game. We're way. We're here to change the way hiring happens online. So, uh, I'm excited to do it.
Ah, I'm here for it. Abbey, thank you so much for joining me again. Um, it's always such a treat to catch up with you and I really look to you as an expert in this space. So it's, it's just such an honor to have you on again.
Thank you so much, Julie.
Yep. I alright guys, hope you're feeling inspired. Make sure you head over to hellosavvy.com. Check it out. Join the wait list and I'll see you in the next episode.