7 pain points an EA can solve for startup executives
Imagine having an additional 10 hours per week to focus on your core business activities. How much more could you accomplish in terms of growth and impact? That’s the difference an executive assistant can make for you as a startup executive.
Executive assistants (EAs) are not merely note-takers and meeting schedulers. They serve as strategic partners who can assist you in managing your team, planning projects, and automate tasks. Whether you hold the position of CEO, COO, CMO, VP, or Head of a department, an EA can provide support in achieving your goals.
In this blog post, we will demonstrate how an EA can resolve seven common pain points that startup executives face on a daily basis. These pain points include inefficiencies in multitasking, calendar conflicts, travel complications, team management, email overload, team disengagement, and time-consuming tasks. By hiring an EA, you can save time, increase focus, improve productivity, and attain greater success in your business.
Table of Contents:
- Solving pain points for Amara, a fintech CEO in the US
- 7 pain points EAs solve for startup executives
- How quickly can an executive assistant alleviate these pain points?
Solving the pain points for Amara, fintech CEO in the US
Since securing her Series B funding, Amara has been grappling with email overload—a persistent issue that has plagued her for as long as she can remember. Like many other founders, she starts her day as early as possible, going for a run in sunny California and then returning to tackle as many emails as she can. However, the number of unread messages grows by several hundred each day.
In addition to email overload, once she opens Slack, a flood of messages inundates her. From engineering inquiries to time-off requests from her direct reports, Amara only has about 30 minutes to respond to all the messages and prepare a presentation for her upcoming meeting.
Amara has become great at ruthlessly prioritizing and has and has read all available literature on the subject. She has attended conferences and is a member of numerous founder’s Slack and WhatsApp groups in San Francisco. However, there’s still something missing that hindering her access to her inbox and productivity.
- Is it typical for other CEOs to have hundreds of unread emails?
- Is it possible to read them all?
- If I don’t read them, will I miss anything important?
- If so, how quickly could that happen?
7 pain points that EAs solve for startup executives
High-performing executives throughout the US tackle these seven pain points on a daily basis with the assistance of their executive assistants. By doing so, they enhance their performance, drive their businesses forward, and unlock their full potential. Addressing these challenges enables executives to achieve their goals while simultaneously boosting productivity.
1. Pain point: Multitasking inefficiency
Amara, a fintech CEO, is suffering from the effects of multitasking and lack of productivity. She has to switch between different tasks and responsibilities. She feels like she works hard all day but never catches up or focuses on what matters most. She often misses important deadlines or makes mistakes in her work because she gets distracted by other tasks or notifications. For example, she once forgot to send a crucial customer segmentation report to an investor because she went overtime in an interview with a data scientist she was looking to recruit.
- Solution for this pain point: She needs a better way to prioritize and delegate her work without losing control or visibility, with the support of a strategic partner—an executive assistant.
- Benefit: The CEO can focus on the high-impact tasks that only she can do while trusting her executive assistant to handle the low-impact tasks that don’t require a CEO’s input. She can also have more control and visibility over her work by clearly overcommunicating with her executive assistant and receiving regular updates and feedback.
- The ideal scenario: Amara has to launch a new product feature for her fintech startup. She knows that this is a high-impact task that only she can do, as she has the vision and the authority to lead the product development and marketing teams.She also knows that tasks like scheduling the launch date, creating the press release, updating the website, and sending the newsletter are best left to her EA. This allows the project to move forward faster and with more efficiency.
2. Pain point: Double or triple bookings in your calendar
Amara has a busy day ahead of her. She has to meet with her CTO to discuss the product roadmap, attend a demo session with a potential customer, join a webinar with a fintech expert, and participate in a board meeting. She checks her calendar and realizes that she has double-booked herself for two of these events. She has to decide which one to cancel and which one to attend. She also has to apologize to the person or group she can’t meet with and try to reschedule. She feels stressed and embarrassed by this situation. She wishes she had a better way to organize and manage her calendar without losing time or missing opportunities.
- Solution for this pain point: Using calendar compartmentalization techniques with the support of an executive assistant. By splitting her calendar into different categories, such as internal, external, personal, and strategic, Amara can create more order and harmony in her schedule.
- Benefit: Prevent conflicts, prioritize efficiently, and communicate effectively with others without causing a last-minute scramble inducing stress.
- The ideal scenario: The executive can dedicate Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays to internal meetings with her team and executives and Tuesdays and Fridays to external meetings with customers and investors. She can also block time for deep work and breaks in between meetings. With calendar compartmentalization, Amara can be more organized and productive.
3. Pain point: No time to organize travel or poorly organized travel arrangements
Amara has to travel to New York for a fintech summit. She needs to book a flight, a hotel, a car, and a ticket for the event. She also has to prepare a presentation and a pitch deck for the summit. She feels overwhelmed by the amount of work and planning involved. She worries about how to keep track of her expenses and receipts during the trip. Last time, she lost some receipts and ended up paying out of pocket. The CEO feels she is wasting time and money on travel planning instead of focusing on her core business activities.
- Solution for this pain point: Having an executive assistant who can handle all the details of her travel, from finding the best deals to creating itineraries, budgets, and expense management.
- Benefit: With strategic travel planning and expense tracking by an EA, Amara can streamline her travel planning as if it were done with a personalized travel agent who understands her fintech business needs and goals and genuinely wants her to save time and money.
- The ideal scenario: An EA books a direct flight to New York for a fintech summit where she will pitch her startup to potential investors, arranges a hotel near the venue that has high-speed internet and meeting facilities, tracks her spending and reimbursements using a mobile app that syncs with her accounting software, and reserves a car for her transportation that has GPS and insurance. Her EA includes clear directions with pictures from Google Maps so there’s no chance Amara gets lost. The executive assistant is also one quick call away ready to support Amara in her same working hours.
4. Pain point: Improving your tech while raising funds
Amara has to keep up with the latest innovations and trends in the fintech industry and ensure that her product meets the needs and expectations of her customers. She also has to pitch her startup to potential investors and convince them that her product has a competitive edge and a scalable market. She has to balance between developing her tech and securing her funds. She needs a better way to handle and optimize both aspects of her business without compromising quality or growth.
- Solution for this pain point: The EA works as a strategic partner who can follow up on action items, plan, and execute.
- Benefit: Amara can rely on her EA to take care of the details and logistics of her projects while she focuses on the big picture and the vision. She can trust her EA to follow up on action items, plan ahead, and execute tasks efficiently and effectively.
- The ideal scenario: The EA can coordinate and communicate with the CTO and engineering team and ensure that the product development and testing are on track and aligned with the product vision and roadmap. An executive assistant can also track and manage the fundraising process and keep Amara updated on the status and progress of each investor relationship.
5. Pain point: Overwhelming inbox
Amara is overwhelmed by her inbox. She receives hundreds of emails every day from customers, investors, partners, team members, and even unwanted communications like spam. She has to read, reply, and act on each email or risk missing important information or opportunities. She feels like she spends more time managing her inbox than running her fintech startup. She needs a better way to handle and organize her emails without losing track or responsiveness.
- Solution for this pain point: Amara needs an executive assistant who can help her manage her inbox, filter out the noise, and handle the tasks that don’t require her input.
- Benefit: Having an executive assistant who can help sort and process every email, Amara can achieve a clear and clutter-free inbox. By applying the priority, delegate, refer, and delete method to each email, she only deals with the most urgent and relevant ones.
- The ideal scenario: An EA can help the CEO prioritize emails from potential investors who are interested in her startup, delegate emails from customers who need technical support to the customer success team, refer emails from partners who want to collaborate on a project to the CMO, and delete emails that are spam or irrelevant. With the help of her EA and the inbox zero technique, Amara has total control over her inbox.
6. Pain point: Low team engagement in remote and hybrid teams
Amara realizes that working from various cities or in a blended mode can be hard and alienating for her team members. She has team members working remotely from San Francisco, New York, London, and Singapore. She also realizes that low team engagement can influence the effectiveness, excellence, and commitment of her team. She needs a better way to enhance and preserve the engagement of her remote and hybrid teams without harming their work quality or flexibility. For example, she needs to keep her Heads of Departments engaged and motivated, as they are responsible for leading and managing their teams and projects. She needs to ensure that they have clear goals, regular feedback, and adequate support from her and their peers. She also needs to make sure that they have opportunities to learn, grow, and innovate in their roles.
- Solution for this pain point: Creating team engagement activities and offsites. By having regular and fun activities and offsites for her team, Amara can foster a sense of connection, collaboration, and belonging among her team members. She can also recognize and reward their achievements, celebrate their milestones, and solicit their feedback.
- Benefit: Better-engaged teams are more efficient and reduce voluntary attrition.
- The ideal scenario: An executive assistant can help organize a virtual trivia for the team, where they can compete and have fun together. An executive assistant can also help plan an offsite where they can meet in person, bond over shared experiences, and work on strategic goals. With the help of an executive assistant and team engagement activities and offsites, Amara can create better-engaged teams that are more efficient and less likely to leave.
7. Pain point: Workload has multiple specialized tasks that are not ‘difficult’ but time-consuming
Amara often feels stressed and exhausted because she is constantly working and never taking breaks. She once worked for 12 hours straight without eating or drinking because she had to finish a presentation for a board meeting the next day. She knows that other executives on her team are also struggling with the same issues, as she has received emails from them at all hours. During lunch breaks, she sees that they are active on Slack.
Amara is worried about the well-being of her team. She knows that they are working hard and putting in long hours to make her fintech startup a success. She also knows that they are facing many challenges and pressures in the fast-paced and competitive fintech industry. She appreciates their dedication and commitment, but she also fears they may burn out because they do not have any breaks. She needs a better way to support and care for her team without compromising their productivity or performance.
- Solution for this pain point: Having a highly analytical and problem-solving EA to handle and automate specialized tasks. Viva’s co-founder, Adnan Khan, says that if you have to do the same task twice, write it down and delegate it.
- Benefit: Besides getting more work done in the same amount of time (since the EA will be completing some tasks while you handle others), Amara gets time for her well-being and avoids the risk of burnout.
- The ideal scenario: Amara freed up several hours of her day (most of Viva’s customers report getting back at least 2 hours a day) and was able to focus on the strategic and creative aspects of her role. She also gained 30 minutes every day to eat a proper lunch and relax. She felt more energized, productive, and happy that her lunch didn’t get cold every day.
How fast can an executive assistant solve these pain points?
Viva’s customers tend to find value in less than a week for administrative pain points like an overwhelming inbox, travel planning, or calendar management.
These are some of their stories:
Managing a calendar above expectations
The Head of HR at a Series B startup had a lot of responsibilities and challenges as a leader. She needed someone who could manage her calendar and help her stay on top of her tasks and goals. She also wanted someone who could integrate well with her team and support them as well.
That’s when she met Dani, a fantastic executive assistant from Viva. Dani amazed the Head of HR with her proactivity and professionalism. She would also spot any conflicts in her calendar and reschedule them in advance. She would also find time slots for her to take breaks and work on her future plans, helping her balance her workload and well-being. She would go above and beyond in any task she assigned her, delivering high-quality results. She was very discreet and trustworthy, keeping her information confidential. The Head of HR was very impressed with Dani’s work and felt like she had a great partner in her team.
Prioritizing and taking charge of email and calendar
The VP of Revenue of a Series A fast-growing startup with a lot of responsibilities and challenges to deal with needed someone to support him and make his life easier. That’s when he started working with Erenia, a talented executive assistant from Viva.
Erenia quickly understood the CEO’s needs and expectations and took charge of his schedule, travel, and email. She also helped him with his communication with his team, board, and stakeholders. The CEO was amazed by how much Erenia improved his productivity and sanity. He could trust her to handle any task he delegated to her and to remind him of anything he might forget. He appreciated her speed, accuracy, and proactivity. He felt like he had a partner in his success. When giving feedback, he requested that Erenia become even more assertive and the “go-to-person” in her team whenever they wanted to reach him.
He claims that he found value in less than one week.
Supporting with administrative and operations tasks
The COO of a Series A startup that had a small but ambitious team was looking for someone who could help her with not only admin tasks but also more analytical and operational ones. She needed someone who could handle complex and diverse projects and who could understand the business and take ownership.
That’s when she met Denisse, a brilliant executive assistant from Viva. Denisse impressed the COO with her skills and versatility. She could do everything from onboarding and offboarding employees to working on a performance management project. She could also document the standard operating procedures and integrate well with the team, even if they were working remotely. The COO felt like she had found a gem in Denisse. She trusted her completely and was looking to delegate more tasks to continue improving their productivity.
Although finding value for operations tasks may have taken more than one week, the COO finds great value every day, exceeding her expectations about the work of an EA.
Skeptical at first, now loving the work of her EA
The Head of Developers at a fast-growing company, had a lot of work and not enough time to do it. She needed someone who could help her with her tasks and priorities and who could work well with her team. She was also worried about what other executives would think of her if she hired an executive assistant. They might think she was giving herself too much importance or that she wasn’t capable enough for her role.
That’s when she met Estefani, a wonderful executive assistant from Viva. Estefani impressed the Head of Developers with her efficiency and cheerfulness. She would proactively go through her Slack messages and propose solutions. She could also create beautiful metrics and pie charts from the Head of Developers’ bullet points, saving her hours of work and allowing her to attend meetings better prepared. She could also anticipate the Head of Developers’ needs and grow with the role. The Head of Developers was very happy with Estefani’s work and felt like she had a great ally in her team. She realized that hiring an executive assistant was a smart decision, even if she was skeptical at first.
Is it time to hire an EA?
Many startup executives struggle with pain points like these and may not even consider getting support. The article “Is it time to hire an executive assistant?” answers seven questions that help executives understand if they are at a stage where they could use support from an executive assistant.