Start-up businesses (Part 3): Lessons Learned at vChief

Using your chief of staff as an entrepreneur in your business

Let me admit something right off the bat: I held off a long time in hiring my own chief of staff. Even though I fully believe in the benefits of having a chief of staff–clearly, it’s my business model! — I felt like I didn’t need one right away, because I am a chief of staff! It wasn’t until the volume got high enough that I realized I couldn’t actually manage it all myself.

  • Strategic planning. As vChief charts our path forward in 2022 and beyond, my chief of staff has led the charge to identify our priorities, goals, and metrics, and review our progress on a regular basis.
  • Setting strategic priorities for me as a leader. My role has shifted fairly drastically from 2020 to now. I set priorities and metrics for myself as a leader, in the same way we do for our company, and my chief of staff facilitates that process, and holds me accountable to spending my time in ways that are aligned with those priorities.
  • Planning our team retreat. I said “I want to host a team retreat in February in Puerto Rico.” Then I promptly forgot about it and let her run the entire thing from planning to execution. She drafted the slides, prepped my talking points, and ensured I was ready to lead without doing all of the pre-work required to get there. She and my executive assistant planned all of the logistics, meals, activities, and sessions, so I didn’t have to.
  • Enrolling in benefits. When we brought on employees to our central team for the first time in 2021 (we had used contractors exclusively to that point), we needed to figure out benefits for them. She researched and got us enrolled in 401K, health, vision and dental benefits.
  • Managing my executive assistant. I was so excited to add an EA to our team this year. She’s stellar but also new to the EA role, and it is wonderful to have a chief of staff who can guide her professional development
  • Meeting planning. My chief of staff leads the planning for all of our team meetings, leadership team meetings, and professional development sessions for our chiefs of staff.
  • Miscellaneous fire-fighting. As we all know, there are urgent situations that arise as we lead our work day to day. It is amazing to be able to have someone who you can just assign the one-off things that need to be dealt with but that are distracting from the work that has the most impact.

Building a team when the time is right

I think adding a chief of staff as one of your first employees is a great way to add leverage, especially if you are a sole business owner (or even functioning as a partnership). Among other things, your chief of staff will help you organize your systems and evaluate where you are lean.



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vChief — Virtual Chief of Staff

vChief — Virtual Chief of Staff

vChief provides interim and virtual chief of staff services designed to support executive leadership and maximize team productivity and growth.