a chat with Jess Cook

Jess Cook and I sat down for a quick chat via email yesterday. Jess helps creative business owners get more done than they could if they were going it alone. We have worked together on a variety of projects over the years. I hope this quick interview will help you better understand the unique service and insight Jess can offer your business.

little acorn:
What sets you apart in the landscape of VAs?
jess:
My focus is on expanding my services to also include digital download products and regular email newsletters/blog posts full of information that’s valuable to small business owners, since I can’t work with everyone 1:1. I’m transitioning away from a traditional VA role to focus on content production (website copy, newsletters, online course material, ebooks, etc.) and project/team management. I also offer consulting sessions to ongoing and one-time clients. I’m really embracing the idea of being a “first officer” for my clients – I work best in that role, where I’m their first source of information, their confidante, the person they can count on to get things done and keep the ship running, so to speak.
little acorn:
That’s great! I look forward to see what you discover for small business owners.

When you first work with a new client, what preconceptions do you wish you could magic away? What do you wish for? What drives you nuts the most?

jess:
It’s important when you’re ready to hire someone that you actually get ready. It’s so hard for a business owner to hand over any part of the reigns of their business, and I understand that because I’m a self-proclaimed control freak. But if you’re not prepared to regularly assign tasks to your new hire, then that person’s going to get frustrated because there’s either nothing to do or the “to dos” come with deadlines that are too tight because you weren’t able to think ahead.

I help my clients work around this by offering to add a brainstorming session to our work together. So we’ll hop on a Skype call and plan out the coming month and quarter at a time, so we can see the big picture together, and then it’s my job to map out the little pieces that come together to make that big picture happen.

The hard part is when a client doesn’t have time or interest in these types of planning sessions OR when they aren’t organized enough to give me regular jobs to do or the materials and information I need to do my work. If you’re not organized in your business then it can be hard to bring someone else into that business to work for you.

little acorn:
When not making, you can be found…
jess:
Right now my life has a lot of components, so I’m working hard to balance those components. I have to make time for client work, my own business work, homeschooling 3 kids, general household tasks and of course family time and down time for myself. It’s a lot of juggling right now, but soon it will be summer, and things will calm down a bit. After that the next adventure is that the kids are going to public school in the fall, so that should open up a lot more working time for me.

It’s a season of hustling right now for me, to keep powering through all these various things happening, in order to come out at the end of the year having seen growth in my business. It can be hard in the moment, but I know things will get easier when our homeschooling adventure is over, and I don’t want to lose momentum in the meantime, so I’m working extra hard now in order to prepare myself for a more focused work time in the future.

little acorn:
It’s definitely crunch season! I think most people believe the yarn industry is all about the winter months, but they don’t realize that we’re finalizing next autumn/winter right now!

What drives your creative process. What do you enjoy? What isn’t so fun?

jess:
In my work, I’m driven by the desire to solve problems. When a client comes to me and says they want to figure out how to add something to their business, or how to improve an existing system, I love hitting the ground running with a project like that and finding solutions for them. This job is amazing because through my clients I’ve got connections to all sorts of smart people, so I’m able to call on those connections from time to time in order to help solve a problem for one client (like a recent adventure where I was able to ask Penny for advice and it resulted in solving a major problem for one of my clients!).

In my personal adventures, I’m a fan of the finished object. I’m driven by the desire to make things that make me, or other people, happy. I like to show people I care about them by making things for them, but I’m also a “selfish crafter” and I spend most of my time making things for myself, because I’m the one who truly appreciates it the most. I do enjoy the process, but I’m definitely after the end result.

little acorn:
Ok, I ask everyone: Kitten or Puppy snuggles?
jess:
BOTH! We’ve got a miniature zoo in our house, so I get regular snuggles from two dogs, a cat, a ferret, and a guinea pig. We also have a chinchilla but she’s pretty anti-snuggle. 🙂
little acorn:
Thank you Jess!

Learn more:

You can find Jess at jesscookonline.com

If you are interested in hiring your first VA, Jess has a guide, “Hire your First VA”.

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