Need help but funds are tight – What do I do?

video thumbnail for "hiring when money's tight" showing a cartoon drawing of a young girl in pigtails, a white half-sleeved shirt, a blue skirt, and red shoes frowning and holding a piggy bank while standing next to a very large pig.

Need help but funds are tight – What do I do?


Click on the gif above to watch this video on YouTube or click play below to listen to the Podcast version




This video covers a LOT of angles, so make sure to watch the whole thing! What do I do when I desperately need help but I can’t afford to hire? There are LOTS of different reasons you might find yourself in this position, so let’s go through all of the causes for tight funds, the different reasons you might need help, and the solutions to these problems.

  • 00:00 Introduction
  • 00:50 First thing, no matter what, DO THIS
  • 01:17 How to set proper priorities!
  • 01:38 If you just need time to serve more clients, YOU NEED…
  • 02:05 If you don’t have clients, YOU NEED…
  • 02:52 Revenue and Expenses – a bunch of easy expenses to cut
  • 04:05 Basics of increasing revenue
  • 04:24 Bartering services 101
  • 05:25 Investing in your business other than money
  • 05:50 The big 4 things you can invest in your business other than money
  • 06:34 Taking Time back
  • 07:13 Hustling the HEALTHY WAY
  • 08:10 Taking back Energy, Effort, and Focus
  • 09:13 What you need to do to get these things back
  • 09:38 Streamlining and Automation
  • 10:01 Streamlining basics
  • 10:25 The easy approach to creating processes
  • 10:45 Automating things the easy way!
  • 12:33 How to find things to streamline – a few good examples
  • 13:42 Starting small
  • 14:35 What you should expect to pay (roughly) for 10 hours a month
  • 15:15 Wrap-up!


The transcript is below if you would prefer to read this yourself instead of watching the video!

Welcome back or welcome to Sidekick COO. I’m Sandra B, your Sidekick COO and today we are answering the question, what do I do when I desperately need some help but I can’t afford to hire?

What you’re gonna do in this situation really is dependent on oh so many factors. 

  • What’s going on in your business? 
  • What’s going on in your life? 
  • Why is it that you need help?
  • Why is it that you can’t afford it? 
  • What stage are you at in your business? 
  • Are you pre-revenue and you just don’t have any time because this is a side hustle and you’re busy doing other things? 

There are so many factors that affect when we need help and what help we need and whether or not we can afford it. This is going to be a little bit kind of all-encompassing,

so you’re gonna want to take what works, leave what doesn’t, and hopefully, we find your answer. 

One of the things that you should probably do first if you are needing help in your business but you don’t have the funds or can’t seem to find the funds to actually hire somebody… 

Sidenote: The number of times I’ve spoken with somebody who is like, I need help but I can’t afford it, and then two weeks later I see them dumping $2,000 on an online course that they probably don’t actually need. It just boggles my mind. People have the weirdest priorities. 

…so I would say…

# 1 – You need to prioritize

Do you actually need that course for publicity or that course to get on TV or that course to learn how to ask people questions Or do you actually just need help in your business? Really figure out what it is you need. Prioritize what you need first. 

A lot of us, we do need a lot of things, but if you’re serving clients and you’re doing it well and you actually need more time so that you can serve more and you don’t have a problem finding more, then what you need is probably a VA or somebody to take admin work off you or whatnot. Somebody to take some load off you so that you can serve more clients. 

Or maybe you need to train somebody up to just help you serve clients or whatever it is. But if you don’t have any clients you’re struggling to sell and you don’t really have any income, then you need to figure out why you don’t have any clients. Is it because you lack sales skills?

Is it because your offer isn’t resonating or is it because you haven’t figured out who your ideal client is and you don’t know how to talk to them yet? It’s often not going to be because you need somebody else to do the admin work. If you haven’t been finding clients and you’re struggling to find clients, then having somebody do the admin work is probably not gonna be the priority. So really start by taking a look at what it is you actually need and then prioritizing that first. So that’s number one. 

# 2 – Revenue & Expenses

So if you do find that yes, what you need is a person in your business helping you, whether that be a VA helping with admin work or a social media person helping with getting content out there or if it’s a salesperson or whatever it is.

If you do find that you do need actual help from somebody but you don’t have the money to invest in that, then you need to look at first your revenue and your expenses. 

  • Are there any expenses that you have right now that you can cut? 
  • Are you paying money into professional development that you don’t need to pay into? 
  • Are you paying for tools that you’re not actually currently using? 
  • Have you been eating out every day because you feel you can because you have a business now?

Maybe, maybe cut that. I’ve seen that happen where people have been spending hundreds of dollars on meals and entertainment.  Meals and entertainment when they’re not actually meeting with clients (That’s not something you can actually do by the way) and they then tell me they don’t have any money. They don’t have $300 to spend on a VA because all of their money is going toward food. Don’t do that. 

Look at your expenses and figure out what can be cut. Really look at them and see if there’s anything that you’re you’re spending on that you probably don’t need to be spending on. If you can’t find any expenses to cut, that’s fine. Also, look at your revenue. If you have clients and people are happy and you’re doing a good job and you are not struggling to find new clients, then maybe it’s time to raise your rate. That could be a thing. Raise your rate. Get more money. Hire somebody to help you out. That’s number two. 

# 3 – You can always barter.

I’m not a huge fan of bartering, but that’s just me personally. A lot of people really like it. I just tend to find that there’s always one person that feels like they’re getting the short end of the stick, that they don’t actually see the value out of what they’re getting. But if you can find a good equal ground there with somebody, you might be able to barter for services.

That’s really only if you’re still struggling to find clients because honestly if you’re not struggling to find clients, why would you give your time to somebody else when you could give it to a client and then just pay somebody else, right? 

When you’re bartering, the selection pool of who’s gonna help you is drastically reduced. So if you have no problem finding clients and you’re not struggling to find clients, then maybe just get another client and then find somebody to pay to do the work that you need done rather than bartering. But if that’s not the case, and if you’re struggling to find clients but you still have free time, bartering can be a thing. 

# 4 ? So I guess this is number four.  I’ve lost track ???? but..another thing you can do is think about what else you can invest in your business.

Investing money in your business is obviously something you can do and it’s something everybody says to do. You gotta invest money or spend money to make money, and that’s true to a point, but that’s not really how you make money. There are other things you need to do other than just shell out dollars in order to actually bring money back in.  There are other things that you can invest in your business other than money.

Maybe you’re not investing those things in your business. Maybe you’re investing them elsewhere. Those things are:

  • Your time
  • Your energy
  • Your effort and,
  • Your focus. 

All four of those things can be invested in your business just like money can and all four of those things can be used in other areas of your life or for your clients or whatnot, just like money can. If you find yourself short of any resource, figure out where it’s going and save some of that for yourself. For instance, the very first thing I said is see about cutting your expenses. That’s if you have too much money going out, that is a resource, it’s a finite resource. You can always make more money, but it takes a little time. You want to see where you can cut it and save it for yourself so that you can invest it in what you actually need. 

The same thing with your time, your energy, your effort and your focus. Think about where all your time is going. Maybe there’s time going to other things, other people’s priorities. Or, too much of your time is going to your client. Perhaps too much of your time is going to your friends or your family, people who are putting their priorities on you. You definitely need to spend time with your family and friends.

I’m not saying you don’t, but sometimes we find, you know it hard to say no to people requesting our time, whether it be a client or a family member or a friend, and maybe we have to start saying no a little bit more often. Not all the time, but maybe a little bit more often so that you can spend some more time in your business. 

I am not a hustle culture person. So, I don’t believe in spending all of your time in your business. I do believe in hustling sometimes though sometimes you have to make sacrifices in order in order to move yourself forward. It is not recommended to do it long-term but I recommend doing it purposefully. You need to state what you’re gonna sacrifice, how long you’re gonna sacrifice it for, and why you’re gonna sacrifice it and what you expect to gain at the end when will you reevaluate to make sure you’re actually on track?

Don’t just sacrifice all of your time all of the time until you know, the end of time! You really wanna make sure that you understand how long you’re gonna hustle for. 

It really helps when you have those boundaries around it so that you can communicate it to your family, you can communicate it to your friends and they understand that this is a short-term thing, not a long-term thing. 

Sidetracked…but anyways. The same with your energy, your effort and your focus.

Those are also things that you’re probably spending somewhere else instead of in your business. If you have clients, you’re probably putting all of your energy, all of your effort, all of your focus into your work for your clients, and then by the time you go to do work for yourself, you don’t have any of that left for yourself. Just think about when you’re doing your work for your clients, how is it different than when you’re doing work for yourself? 

I do find a lot of people when they’re doing work for themselves, for instance, it’s okay to miss deadlines. It’s not okay to miss deadlines for your client, but somehow it’s okay to miss deadlines for you. Treat yourself like a client

The same with like focus. A lot of the time when people are doing work for their clients, they’re fully focused on the work. Then when they’re doing work for themselves, they’re also trying to watch the kids, trying to make dinner, trying to listen to a podcast and also do their work. Make sure you put some of your focus toward your work. 

That might mean that you need to hustle a little bit. It might mean that you need to get some buy-in from some other people in your life to help you out and give you the space. It might mean you do your work first before you do a client work, whatever it means. Just think about that and start really treating yourself as your own client and investing some of your other resources, not just money. 

Other things you can do. I completely lost track of what number I’m on, so I give up there. But you can also get creative about getting help in your business. Things that help in your business are not just hands-on in your business, not just somebody else’s hands, somebody else’s brain, somebody else’s effort. But it’s also streamlining your processes or even having processes. Rather than rethinking every time you have to onboard a client:

“oh, what…I don’t remember. What do I do first”?

“This or this”?

“Oh yeah, where’s that template”?

“What do I usually put on my invoice”? 

Blah, blah, blah. 

Make sure that you’re templatizing everything, you’re process-sizing. Process-sizing??? ???? Whatever!  

You’re making a process out of everything. Make sure that you’re outlining it so that you can just review it back. So that the next time you have to onboard a client, you just follow the steps. 

You don’t have to rethink it. You don’t have to reinvent it every time you do it. Creating processes in your business, (and it can be as easy as just jotting down step-by-step what you do) make sure you keep it all in one place so you always know where to go when you need that information. 

Also, automating things. This could be something where you hire somebody to help automate things and it’s always just a quick project. So that might be something that financially is a little bit more attainable for you or you might sit down and automate in your business as well. Automation sounds big and scary, but a lot of the times it’s really, really simple. You can use a tool like Zapier for instance, to help you automate things and it’s really just a recipe. It’s like when this thing happens in this tool or system, then this other thing happens. If this, then that, right? 

You can do things like if somebody signs a contract, that contract automatically gets saved to a folder and it automatically adds a task into my project management tool for me to follow up with them and it automatically generates an invoice or something like that. Maybe there are some automations there.

I have an automation in my business for when I record a video. When I’m done, I upload it to a file and I change one thing, one little thing in my project management tool and it sets a task for Caleb to edit the video. Then he’ll put the edited video in a folder for me that says review. It’ll automatically add a task for me to review it. Once I’ve reviewed it, I put the file into a different folder and it takes literally a second for me to do that. In doing that, it automatically sends a task for my assistant to finalize the show notes and get them up on our website. It also uploads the file to YouTube so nobody has to do that manual process. (I think it does one or two other things as well)

It really helps streamline the process but helps take some of those manual things out of the process. 

So really think about all the steps that you do. What are some of those manual things that maybe could just be automatic? When you’re going through this process, think about all the things you do and think about what can be streamlined. Are you touching things multiple times and is there a way for you to just touch it once? If you get an email and then you read it and then you have to think about what to do, then you have to go back to the email and then maybe you hit that email a couple of times before a response gets set.

Maybe instead you can have a process where an email comes in, you send an email immediately back letting them know you got it and that you’ll respond by X date and buy yourself a few days. If you’re onboarding a client or somebody is interested in working with you or whatever it is, somebody’s assigning you a task, you can respond right away with “Yes, I got this message. I will get back to you about this on this date”. Buy yourself X number of hours, and X number of days so that you’re working on your own time.

Just think about those things that you can streamline. Also, see what parts of the process aren’t needed anymore. Where can things be cut? Cuz a lot of the time when we’re setting up a process, we’ll bulk it out with things that are unnecessary. So, see where you can cut any unnecessary steps. 

The last thing you can do if you really need help but you can’t afford to hire is think about starting small.

A lot of times people think that when they need to hire help, they need somebody in their business full-time or at least x number of hours a week. And a lot of the time you can get somebody just for a few hours a month. Try and find somebody for 5 or 10 hours a month just to do one or two big processes and take some of the work off of your plate. Rather than trying to force yourself into being able to hire somebody for, you know, 5 hours a week, just hire somebody for 10 hours a month. 

You will find that you get so much back from getting somebody in your business even for 10 hours a month. It’s not even hard to come up with that money. With 10 hours a month, that’s gonna be anywhere between probably $350 to $500 a month depending on what you’re, who you’re looking for, and what you need to do. Just thinking about a VA, depending on what kind of VA you need and what you need them to do and how experienced and blah blah, blah. That’s probably gonna be your rate.

So if you’ve been eyeing a course for $2,000 and you’re thinking about buying it, then you can afford to hire a VA for 10 hours a month. All right? Going back to that prioritizing, just know that the threshold for entry is $350 a month is probably a good starting point for most people. That’s it!

If you like this video, don’t forget to like and subscribe. Also, if you know somebody who needs to hear this, please, please take a moment and share it with them. I would really appreciate it. 

Don’t forget, together we thrive. 

Have a great one.

Meet your host

Sandra Booker, Founder of Changemaker Inc. (home to Sidekick COO and The VA Studio) and creator of Scale Society and The Advisory Board, is a mentor, Fractional COO  and growth strategist. She specializes in helping overworked, overwhelmed, multi-hatted entrepreneurs become the CEOs of sustainably scalable, and powerfully profitable businesses. 

After helping local businesses thrive, and receiving accolades in her community (like the 40 Under 40 award) Sandra turned her attention to the world of online service providers, and her clients include familiar names like Chanti Zak, Tarzan Kay, and Laura Belgray.

In her (efficiently used) spare time, she teaches others how to build and grow their own 6-figure virtual assistant practices and is on a mission to create a million jobs by helping her clients and students scale their businesses.

The Great Big List of KPI's

Want more? Check these out!

Dip your toes into transformation with these resources that pack a punch, all on the house.

Get started with KPIs with this free guide that will show you what KPIs you need to track, how many is too many, how to identify trends, examples of KPIs for every area of your business.

Washup & Reset

An annual business review to get you off the “set goal, miss goal, try-same-thing-again” merry-go-round, The Wash-up shows you haw to use the lessons from this year to get the most out of next year.

4D-90 Framework

This process is designed to be completed every quarter so you always know exactly what to do to hit your goals without putting in more time, create a new offer, or adding yet another launch to your calendar.

Budget Template

Struggling to know where you're money's going and whether you can afford that new course you've been eyeing? You need a budget and this template will help.

KPI Business Dashboard

Your easy answer to "What the heck do I track?"  You'll have all of your numbers in one place, and have at-a-glance information so you always know whether you're on track to meet your goals.

Grab your Budget Template