Doing more with less at the C-Suite Level
The talk around startup executives is focused on doing more with less, given the increasing challenges the industry is now facing. Chances are that your company was already at its full capacity and now it needs to increase the workload either because of recent layoffs, increased adversity in securing funding, or simply because you are growing as expected, and with that growth new challenges emerge.
From our experience working with startup executives, some of them backed by Sequoia, Y Combinator, Andreessen Horowitz, Lightspeed, and other top venture capital firms, we’ve learned how to make that workload more efficient and reasonable. Working with executive assistants has been a solution for startups for multiple reasons. Some find that partnering with an EA agency like Viva helps them get support without increasing their headcount. Other times, executives find the time they need to focus on pressing matters, leaving email and calendar admin to their EA. For distributed teams with business connections across states or countries, travel planning support is exactly what they need from their EAs, clearing up much-needed time and headspace for executives.
Startup executives should be focused on tasks that require functional and industry experience to deeper levels. The golden rule of delegation is: if you’ve done a task multiple times, most likely you can delegate it. These tasks tend to be administrative and operational that should be taken by an executive assistant on a daily basis.
Executives are high-paid resources that move the company forward, ensure there’s alignment and create company value. Without them operating efficiently, your company is not moving fast enough. That’s why great executive assistants are able to provide value to C-level startup executives by taking on administrative and operational tasks and doing a great job at it, sometimes, even better than executives would at a fraction of the cost.
12 ways that executive assistants support C-Level Suite in Startups
These 12 ways are inspired by tasks that executive assistants do on a daily basis with startup executives from multiple roles across the United States. Some of them are administrative tasks while others take on a more operational role. In any case, EAs perform tasks that are valuable to each specific role since no two companies are the same.
Please note that these examples are some of the many tasks that executive assistants are able to perform on a regular basis but are not limited to the full extent of their job description or the title of the executive.
These have been designed with specific C-suite roles in mind to give you a more in-depth perspective of what working with an EA looks like.
1. Increased focus.
- How: Executive assistants can send action items first thing in the morning and EOD for the executive’s visibility, allowing them to stay focused on priority tasks. An EA can also create mind maps in Figma for your new product ideas.
2. Presentation support
- How: An EA supports you by creating presentations for your next monthly operations review in a collaborative effort with your team. Along with this, your EA can do data research on marketing (or any other specialized) dashboards to find examples to present to other executives and leaders.
- An EA also creates a Q&A document to share during the town hall.
3. Calendar and email management
- How: Compartmentalizing calendar to increase focus time and reduce scheduling back and forth, scheduling meetings and 1:1s, taking notes and distributing meeting agendas to participants, resolving conflicting meeting times, managing email or Slack messages, prioritizing and delegating to respective team members.
- Some of our EAs have made sure to unsubscribe from the hundreds of newsletters that their executive was part of. Others block time for lunch and introduced new technology that helps record, take meetings, capture key items, and transcribe meetings.
4. Executive travel planning and team offsites
- How: Scheduling and organizing domestic and international trips including booking and confirming flights, hotels, and transportation. An EA is also able to manage all travel expenses and create reports post-travel. Our EAs have also supported executives in booking travels for offsite as well as coworking options and Airbnbs for team members.
- When traveling, an EA is able to plan dinner reservations, day trips, and commute times. All of this info can be saved in your calendar for easy access. Also, an EA can do research on safety precautions, money exchange, and available forms of payment.
5. Project Management tasks
- How: EAs at Viva have shown great promise in project management tasks. Some of them involve but are not limited to, implementing a new hire onboarding process, building playbooks for internal processes, driving performance evaluations, researching and comparing insurance policies and vendors, and driving tasks related to company culture and employee wellness.
- One of the EAs has been given the task to create an onboarding checklist for new hires. The team need this checklist but it had never been done before. The task was delegated to their EA with minimum input. The EA needed to do research on the role and understand the company to be able to complete this task. She contacted team members and also the team at Viva to make sure this assignment was done successfully. The result was a checklist that included every step that the new hire has to follow, including who to reach out to for certain tasks.
6. Analyzing and improving processes.
- How: One of our EAs supported an executive with the creation of a company-wide intranet, that needed to be organized and user-friendly. The request for this project was to improve the experience of accessing company information and policies. The executive needed to have a tool that was cross-functional and collaborative that allowed communication through a process that was efficient, straightforward, and empowering for team members. The EA organized all the resources available in internal repositories that would be easily accessed company-wide with some confidential segments for specific audiences. After researching the best platform to use, the EA and executive decided on using Confluence from Atlassian and then migrating to Google Sites.
7. Support with direct reports.
- How: For the executive’s direct reports, the EA created survey forms that would help with 360 feedback reports. She made sure that all were turned in by the ETA deadline by sending reminders a week and a day before. After collecting the surveys, the EA gathered all responses on a spreadsheet and proceeded to schedule 1:1s with the direct reports to go over the feedback.
8. Reporting on expenses and billings
- How: Create A/R Aging Report and follow up on past due A/R, monitor checks and payments, and support CFO on investment meetings or external audits.
- Executive assistants also support billing in invoice creation, monthly billing processes, and generating billing reports in Quickbooks.
9. Supporting projects for customer success
- How: Develop playbooks or internal handbooks based on customer experience in order to drive the strategy across internal audiences. Create customer journey reports with metrics using analytics on CRMs like Hubspot. Help drive strategic alignment with team members by driving collaborative projects.
10. Implementing office organization systems
- How: Organize and centralize company documents in an internal spreadsheet repository. Depending on the area of support, EAs help create a department folder proposal for the team to organize by uploading documents like contracts, so everything is stored properly.
11. Benchmarking and planning
- How: Created detailed spreadsheets for later reference, and also create meeting templates to present results and new information every quarter. They can keep an eye on newly backed and funded startups that are around your business alley.
- EAs can also coordinate promotional merchandise from offshore production to local delivery, keeping in mind quality, and pertaining details.
12. Driving team-building initiatives
- How: Find and deliver gifts, anniversary and birthday cards for team members. EAs can also order prizes for the winner of an internal challenge.
- Executive Assistants at Viva have created “Modus Operandi” templates to facilitate communication and improve company culture in the startups they support. These Modus Operandi are documents that specify how an executive operates, their communication style, what the expectations are for direct reports, and tips & tricks as to how to work with them.
- EAs may also schedule a class/session for the whole team on relevant topics.
The phrase “doing more with less” must be cautiously treated. Executives are expected to take on heavy workloads, sometimes without admin support which intensifies this pain point and can lead to burnout. This can happen to anyone, as Buffer’s co-founder reminds us all.
This is why having an executive assistant, no matter the role, is great for optimizing resources and enhancing productivity.
Didn’t find tasks that fit your role in the list?
We support over +20 different roles in cities across the US. Reach out so we can give you a personalized scenario of what working with an EA might look like for you.
No headcount capacity? Hire externally.
Hiring an executive assistant externally provides great value for companies with little or no headcount capacity because it allows them to get assistance and support without having to hire internally. Besides being 2X more expensive to hire in-house, the chances of having a perfect fit are slimmer than through an external vendor like Viva, which undergoes a professional and strict vetting process.
Besides the resource of money, time is a major investment in hiring internally. The onboarding and recruitment process may last 3+ months, making it a time-consuming investment most executives might not even consider. To provide a solution for slow hiring and onboarding, Viva offers a < 24-hour onboarding process.
This is made possible by Viva’s pre-hire method. This method occurs 3 months (or more) in advance of onboarding with an executive. During this time, executive assistants are trained and prepared to be onboarded within the 24-hour window, far off from their competitors who have waiting periods of weeks.
Training is done with a proven method that ensures success, called Viva University. Additionally, executive assistants undergo a vetting process that allows hiring the top 1% of talent from the Latin American market.
For an executive, this means that from the moment they make a decision to hire an EA, they have a highly-qualified candidate ready to offer support within 24 hours.
Real-life examples of how Viva EAs are helping executives do more with less
“When Erenia (EA) reminds me of an email it’s amazing, I think she is calibrating really well. She is being very quick to stay on top of priorities.
It’s helping with sanity, knowing that I can ping her with something I know need to do instead of it weighing on me, potentially context switching because I’m trying to do a 30-minute task broken up into 5-minute chunks.
– VP of Revenue at a Series A startup
“The quality of Viva’s talent has exceeded our expectations and they’ve been able to onboard faster than any other solution in the market. Our current users include several members of our executive leadership team.”
-VP of Operations at a Series C startup
“Dennise is incredibly smart and very open to doing the tasks. She can do administrative and also more analytical and thought process tasks. There is a lot on the HR team that Denise does: writing offers, following up on people, onboarding people, and answering questions. She is also doing special projects that require strong organization, and process design like training materials.”
– COO at a Series A startup