EP 005: How Agencies Can Build the Right Support Team

panic proof radio blog heather w

Heather Whaling is an entrepreneur on a mission. She wants to build a great business, foster a happy team environment, and give back to her community in the process. That kind of big vision takes a lot of work! And that’s why, early on in Heather’s experience of founding and growing Geben Communication, she knew it was time to bring a VA on board.

Geben Communication was born as a business of one in Heather’s dining room, but it quickly began to expand. Along the way, Heather found that the mundane tasks—invoicing, time tracking, and the like—were distracting her from the creative work she loves.

Fortunately, she had met Jess Tyson years before at a marketing and social media conference, and she’d filed Jess’s name away in the recesses of her brain.

By the time Jess and Heather began working together, Heather did have a small in-person team, but it wasn’t difficult to juggle in-person and remote relationships. She utilized Jess’s skills mostly on projects that rested solely on her plate, meaning that Jess didn’t need to be in contact with the rest of the team and wasn’t likely to get swept up in other work projects.

As Heather continued to grow her business, she eventually outgrew the VA model. As she moved into permanent office space, it made more sense to hire an in-person office manager—someone who could handle everything from restocking paper towels in the breakroom to making bank deposits and post office runs.

Heather shares that change and growth are part of the entrepreneurial journey. As Geben has changed and expanded, the needs of the business and the team have shifted along with it.

And as Heather’s business has expanded, she’s taken a strong interest in caring for both her colleagues and community. Her team lives by certain “house rules,” and among them is a rule that allows individuals to work from anywhere. Wherever they can be most productive is where they should go!

She also talks about the work that goes into bolstering employee engagement—something that’s been especially important over the last 12 months. With the team fully virtual, she’s been checking in with regular surveys to gather feedback. The team has also organized Geben Game Night, a regular happy hour, and coffee and creativity (a spin on the lunch and learn concept where the team deep-dives into client work). Plus, she makes a special effort to celebrate wins by sending care packages to the team when they do great work for a client.

In her community, Heather has been a vocal advocate for paid parental leave and served on the board of the Women’s Fund of Central Ohio.

Heather has been able to reach these impressive professional heights in part because of the team around her. From her early days with a VA to her current setup with an in-person director of business operations and executive assistant, Heather has had the smarts to find and hire the right help along the way and make changes as her business dictates.

Key Takeaways

  • What’s right for your business in the beginning won’t always be right as you grow. Don’t be afraid to make necessary changes.
  • Open communication and trust are essential elements to any professional relationship.
  • Surrounding yourself with the right people not only allows you to achieve your business goals; it also empowers you to give back to your team and community at large.

Top Quotes

“At different stages in your company, you need different things. And different people have those skillsets.” – Heather Whaling @prtini on #entrepreneurship and scaling Click To Tweet “[Building a great relationship with your VA] is just feedback, and coaching, and getting to know each other. And being really open and honest about what you need, timelines, and expectations.” – Heather Whaling @prtini on managing a… Click To Tweet “When you start getting that inkling [that you need to hire help], you should do it. One of the biggest mistakes is that you wait too long, and then you’re forced into hiring someone, and you may not find the right person.” – … Click To Tweet

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