Scaling with Purpose: Strategic Workflows & Effective Habits for Solopreneurs

May 3, 2023

Illustrated diagram of a pipeline of checkmarks and flags along a line, presumably in a process

Back in my virtual assistant days, I was often hired to help "tech-challenged" coaches set up and streamline their behind-the-scenes systems.

One takeaway from this experience that I can share with you honestly is that having well-defined workflows, systems, and good habits in place will take you further than finding the unicorn that will "do it all" for you.

I recommend bringing in a virtual assistant AFTER you've already set up good workflows and habits for yourself and your business. Even if the VA you hire doesn't work out or unexpectedly leaves, your business won't come to a grinding halt if you have just a few systems in place.

I’ve got some recommendations so that you can avoid wasting time training new VAs who may not follow through or who disappear entirely.


This content is available as part of my podcast, Compassionate Side Hustle Strategy! Tap here to be taken to directly to the episode.

Workflows and Good Habits

Having workflows, systems, and good habits in place will keep your business running smoothly no matter who your virtual assistant is.

For you definition-loving folks:

  • A workflow is the series of activities involved to complete a task or process.
  • A habit is a regular, repeated practice

Having workflows and good habits in place will make it so that if your VA ghosts you or just doesn’t work out (the contract is terminated, amicably or not), things in your business don’t come to a grinding halt.

My top recommendation?

Create workflows and habits in your business BEFORE you bring in a virtual assistant.

Let’s take the common example of “hiring someone to help me with Instagram.”

Sample Workflow: Instagram Content Creation

This is what that might look like, with your personal workflow AND breaking it down into smaller tasks that you could outsource:

  1. Your standard workflow for creating Instagram content is that when you’re out and about, you have random ideas and you write them down briefly in Evernote in your phone. Every Sunday night, you sit down at your computer and go through your list of notes. You edit and/or re-write them so they make more sense and give them a relevant title.
  2. Whenever you on Instagram and hear an audio or see a trend you want to use, you hit the “save” flag so you can find it easily, later.
  3. Once a month, you clear out a 2-hour block of time to record or create your Instagram content. This is easy to remember because you signed up for monthly co-working with an accountability partner.
  4. You make videos and carousel graphics using Canva. The ideas are easy to find, because they’re all saved in Evernote! And it’s easy to come up with content because all of your audios and trends are ready for you in your “Saved” area on the IG app.
  5. Once a month you look at your Instagram Insights and check which videos or graphics did well for your audience. You keep that in mind when you sit down to make your next batch of content.

Good habits for this workflow:

In order for the above workflow to, well, work, you need be consistent with the following:

  • You always save all of your ideas in Evernote, every time. No more random stick notes, or writing it in the margins of your journal. All of it goes in Evernote!
  • You regularly hit that “Save” flag in Instagram when you see a trend or audio you want to use. Err on the side of saving too many things rather than not enough.
  • You never miss your co-working appointment with your accountability partner every month. Your family knows about it, and you’ve established strong boundaries that they can’t bother you while you’re making content for those two hours.
  • You always look at your Instagram Insights from the previous month to make sure you’re making relevant content that you audience enjoys.

Outsourcing Opportunities for this workflow:

When you’re ready to bring in some help, you can hire someone to:

  • Look at your notes in Evernote and flesh them out for you. You’ll get pinged once a week when they tell you the current batch of ideas is done and ready for you to access in Evernote.
  • Match ideas in Evernote with the saved audios or trends in Instagram by writing out ideas in a shared Google Sheet or Google Doc. Again, this will probably be a weekly thing where they’ll clock in on a specific day and then let you know when the work is done.
  • Create content for you for Instagram based on your raw writing in Evernote or the Google Sheet or Doc (the kind of content that doesn’t require your face, anyway) and save those videos or carousels in a Google Drive folder. It will be your job to look at each piece of content and approve it or give feedback so they can change it. Eventually you won’t need to approve each piece, though!
  • Upload and pre-schedule all approved content in the Google Drive folder using the Later app, whether it was made by you or by a creative virtual assistant you hired.
  • Check your insights on a monthly basis and share the screenshot either in Evernote, Google Sheets/Docs, or Google Drive, with notes on what to focus on in next month’s content.

This is how a systems-oriented brain like mine sees business tasks.

Things can look complicated, but they’re really just a list of individual tasks that need to get done to achieve the desired outcome. In this case, Instagram content!

Instead of just one “task” of “making Instagram Content,” it’s actually a whole workflow of at least five steps that can each be outsourced, and several habits that must be maintained regularly by you, the business owner.

Most people think that outsourcing means you hand EVERYTHING over to someone else, but I’ve found that breaking your business practices down into workflows with multiple steps is better for the beginning phase, while you’re getting all of your systems in place.

You can hire one creative virtual assistant who can cover all of the steps (I call them a Unicorn VA if they have admin and creative skills).

Or you can hire a general admin assistant or for just one of them and keep doing the creative parts yourself.


If, for some reason your contract with your VA is terminated for any reason, it will be easier to explain and hand over their tasks to someone new with very little disruption to your creative process.

Bonus tip!

This process should also be documented and saved in that Google Drive folder. In fact, you could just copy this email, replace the software apps with the ones that you use for your business, and save it as your first “SOP" (Standard Operating Procedure). Every business should have documented SOPs!

Speaking of copy & paste…

Grab the “Find Your Unicorn VA” Swipe File

If you haven’t already, I strongly suggest grabbing your copy of the Finding Your Unicorn VA swipe file.

It’ll save you a few hours in your search for a virtual assistant who can help you and is within your budget right now.

What’s included:

  • My full job description in Google Docs format, ready to easily copy-and-paste into the hiring platform of your choice
  • Explainer notes outlining the purpose of each section and why I include it
  • A list of places for finding your virtual assistant (including the one I prefer and use every time to get 20+ qualified VAs within my budget)
  • Interview questions I ask my top three candidates to make sure we’re a good fit
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