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When is the right time to hire a Director of Operations?

Photo Courtesy of Christina @wocintechchat

In my last post, I created a foundation for both the role and function of a Director of Operations (DOO).

I don’t think there is much room to argue that ANY business would benefit from having a DOO on their team. I mean, who wouldn’t want to have some incredible human handling the planning, operations, and management of your business so that you - <INSERT YOUR TITLE HERE> - can have the space you need to breathe, dream, create, network and promote the heck out of your amazing business?

*I prefer the term FOUNDER when giving myself a title.

So, then the real question becomes not IF but WHEN is the right time to hire a DOO?

That, my friend, is a great question and one we are going to dig into in this post.

However, before I even begin to talk with a fellow business owner about who they want to hire, I like to start by asking them about the work they are currently doing inside their business. I break it down into a four-part matrix and ask the following reflective questions:

1. What are the tasks that ONLY YOU can do?

2. What are the tasks that you have HIGH EXPERTISE in but are not necessarily satisfying?

3. What are the tasks that you have LITTLE EXPERTISE in but are minimally satisfying?

4. What are the tasks that you do that are HIGHLY SATISFYING?

I am a firm believer that in order to feel good about the work we engage in on a daily basis, we need to be “good” at it and it needs to feel satisfying to us. I think the sweet spot is around 80/20. If 80 percent of our work consists of things we are good at and/or enjoy then we can tolerate the other 20 percent without too many complaints. The more the percentage shifts, the less fulfilling our work becomes and the more likely we are to become apathetic, cynical or start searching for something new. 

Now, let’s head back to the questions above…

The tasks listed in #1 need to stay on your plate. Only you can do them, so it's important to keep that list for yourself. However, I would challenge you to be really honest about whether or not it's true that you really are the only one that can do them or if you just WANT to be the only one doing them. It’s totally okay if that’s the case, it’s just important to be honest with yourself if you want to grow a healthy team (if you feel like you are struggling to delegate, then you need to connect with my girl Rachelle Nichols and she can help you sort through all of this).

The tasks listed in #2 are up for grabs. Some may stay, some may go depending on the person that is hired.

The tasks listed in #3 are definitely the ones that need to go. It’s time to get these off your plate and hand them over to someone else who is an expert in those areas and enjoys that line of work.

The tasks listed in #4 will probably stay. You may not be an expert, but you like them so they don’t take anything away from you (and probably not your business) for the present moment.

Once you’ve reviewed the tasks from lists #3 and #2, respectively. Then, it’s time to look at what’s on that list to determine who to hire first (or next) in your business.

Now, I don’t know what’s on your list, but if this is the FIRST person you are hiring for your team I almost always suggest you start with a Virtual Assistant, especially of the Executive Admin variety. The most relief that most business owners will immediately find is having someone who can take the routine, recurring tasks off their plate. You would be surprised by how much this space alone creates for you. Even if it's just a couple of hours a week - that is a couple of hours a week you just gained to focus on the things that will move the needle (ahem, create more revenue) in your business OR will give you a little extra time to take your kids to the park or go to bed at a reasonable hour.

Assuming you already have a VA or for some reason don’t need admin support, then take another look at that list and look for the common themes. Using these themes, begin to craft a description of the person you want to hire, what skills they need to have, and what responsibilities they will have in your business.

Then, sit with this draft for a day or so and see how it would feel to have someone doing these things inside your business. If it feels great, you are on the right track and I would suggest continuing moving forward in this direction. If it doesn’t feel great, I would take a step back and reflect on your vision and the list you made and see if you can identify what you really need to help you move forward before taking active steps toward hiring someone.

If your list feels great and you are already dreaming about what you will do with all that extra time you just gave yourself, then you might be wondering if a DOO is the person you need to hire. Well, let’s take a look at the themes you noted. If your list included words or phrases like…





Team Oversight



Right-Hand Person

Other Side of My Brain

Project Manager



Dot All My I’s, Cross All My T’s




Then, a DOO might be the person you need.

However, it’s not just about need and function. Hiring a DOO also requires a budget that can support their role. In general, DOO’s do not directly increase revenue in a business. Rather, they optimize a business so that it is more profitable and so that the revenue-producing team members (namely the owner) have more space to generate sustainable dollars for the business.

It’s important to take a look at your revenue and determine if it can sustain your current business expenses PLUS the fees for a DOO for at least 6 months. In general, it's best practice for your business operating expenses (including salaries and wages) to average around 30% if you want to have a healthy profit margin. If your DOO’s rate can fit within your 30% for your business then you are probably in good shape. Otherwise, you need to consider waiting a bit longer before adding a DOO to your team.

If your budget does not yet support a DOO but you need operational and admin support, consider a high-level Executive VA or an Operations Manager. They will most likely be able to create the space you need and may even have the potential to grow into a DOO over time as your business grows. Many DOO’s offer strategy sessions or consultation packages to help you create a plan that you can then have your team implement, which is a phenomenal transitional step.

As a certified Director of Operations, I know the value I and my peers bring to the businesses we partner with and work in. However, I also know there is a right time and a wrong time to hire a DOO and I want to help you navigate this decision so that you feel confident hiring the right person for the right role at the right time.

Having specific questions about whether or not a DOO is right for your business right now, feel free to book a call and let’s chat.