How to Ask for Help In Your Business

The Modern Editor Podcast - How to Ask for Help In Your Business
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.

There is a fine line we walk when we approach burnout. I know this all too well, which is why today’s episode is our first release in seven months. After facing my own spout of burnout and still actively recovering from it, I knew I had to ask for help in my business and it has made all the difference. In today’s episode, I’m sharing a little about that journey and what you should consider if you’re ready to ask for help!

Review the Transcript

Welcome to The Modern Editor Podcast, where we talk about all things editing and what it’s like to run an editorial business in today’s world. I’m your host, Tara Whitaker. Let’s get to it.

Hello, everyone. A little bit of a long time no see, or hear. At the time of this recording, it is June 2024, and I last spoke to y’all in November of 2023.

And in August of 2023, in episode 26, I spoke about my latest experience with burnout. And I talked about how being patient and giving yourself time and space to recover was crucial. And guess who had to take their own advice? Thanks. Me, which is why it’s been seven months since I’ve released a new podcast episode, which I did not realize it had been that long until I started gearing up to record again.

So I didn’t mean to have a big gap like that, but the important thing is, is that we’re back. So what we’re going to talk about today is, I’m going to touch briefly on burnout, and my progress and how I’ve continued to recover. But I’m also going to share what else allowed me to come back to be with you here today. And that is asking for help. Sound good? All right, let’s get right back into it. 

So if you did not listen to episode 26, I highly recommend going back and checking it out. But it was the episode where I talked about burnout and my latest experience with it. And two of the tips that I had that I shared for recovering from burnout was to take small steps and to give yourself time.

And like I just said, turns out I needed a lot of time and there are still areas I’m working on. So I’m not 100 percent out of the woods yet, but I’m making big, huge progress. So this is just another friendly reminder that it can take a long time to get out of that burnout phase, especially when you consider how long you were in the burnout, like in the height of it. I apparently was in it for much longer than I thought.

So I am of the opinion that if you’re in burnout for let’s say two months, it’s going to take at least four months, if not longer. I am a good example of that. I also wanted to mention that in that episode I talked about one of my symptoms being constantly fatigued. And it got to the point where I suspected that something else was going on.

I kept getting told by doctors that, yeah, everyone’s tired. You know, you’re a mom to two young kids, you run a business, like it’s totally normal to be tired. And sure, it is, but I knew something else was up. And that something else I thought was burnout. But long story short, it turns out it was sleep apnea.

So I had the triple whammy of life, burnout fatigue, and sleep apnea fatigue. So it was no wonder I felt like crap. And I really do think that the sleep deprivation and the lack of deep restorative sleep is part of the reason why it has taken me so long to get back to, quote, normal, because I don’t know how long I’ve had sleep apnea.

I don’t know when that comes about, or if I’ve had it all my life. If it exacerbated, I don’t know, due to stress or whatnot. If someone knows, let me know, but I have it. And so I wanted to mention that because if you’re figuring out your own burnout symptoms and something just feels off or seems worse than normal, it might be worth it to look into it further as much as you can. Not saying that every symptom is going to be something deeper or bigger, but in my case it was, so it doesn’t hurt to investigate a little further. 

So as I acclimate to my lovely CPAP machine and continue to slowly emerge from my burnout, one of the things I knew I had to get better at was asking for help. And delegating. I wear most of the hats in my business, which is why I was burned out. I was doing too much. Period. Plain and simple. We’re reading the book The Cure for Burnout in our Freelance Editors Club book club right now. And that type is burnout by volume. I just had too much stuff. 

So the only solution for me, well there are two options, but one solution. Two options were to just stop doing the things, which I couldn’t, or didn’t want to, because they were important things, or ask for help. So I asked for help. However, this is something I have struggled with my entire life. I am independent AF, and I have a hard time trusting people. I am an Enneagram 6, for those of you who are into the Enneagram. I’m the Loyalist, which I don’t really like that word, but It means that I’m a worst-case scenario kind of gal. I’m always prepared for the worst. And so when I would think of asking for help, I would automatically think about, well, what if I have to fire them? And that would make me not ask for help. Well, that and a lot of other things, but that was a big one.

And I put it off. I just, I just put it off cause I didn’t want to deal with it. I have asked for help in the past and I’ve had some lovely people I’ve been able to work with on my business. Shout-out to those of you, you know who you are. And so knowing that I could do it, knowing I was capable of asking, I knew that I had to ask for more help and I needed to get comfortable with it because otherwise I either was going to stop doing the things I love like this podcast or I was going to just have to suck it up and ask for the help. And I chose to ask for help. 

So I’m going to share with you how I have, slowly but surely, gotten comfortable with that area and hope that those tips can help you in some small way as well. And just a reminder, I’m still learning this. I am by no means an expert at delegating or asking for help.

I’m the furthest from it at all. So I’m going to be growing right alongside with you. But I do know in my experience these things have helped me, which is why I’m sharing them with you today. Not as an expert, but as someone who is learning right along with you. 

All right. So a callout back to episode 25 where I mentioned doing a time audit to see where you’re truly spending your time. And when I did that, that’s when I realized I was in the burnout phase and what triggered all of this. But when I did the time audit, I could clearly see what my areas of improvement were. I had to free up time for things that only I could do in my business and delegate the tasks that someone else was capable of doing.

So my two big areas were with my overall business processes and workflows and onboarding, and the other was podcast production. So I knew I had to ask for help in those areas, which helped me pinpoint who to ask for help. But then I was like, where the heck am I going to ask for help? So here are the things that I took into account, or that I did, and that I recommend for you if you are also looking to get some help.

Number one, this is going to come as a huge shocker to those of you who have listened to the podcast in the past or know me, my number one piece of advice is to start small. We are not hiring a forty-hour-a-week employee. I mean, you can, absolutely. That’s not where I’m at, nor honestly, is it where I ever want to be at.

But that’s just my opinion as of the moment. I just need help in the areas that we talked about. And so I just wanted to start small. Five hours a month can make a world of difference. That seems incredibly small, but if they’re doing the tasks that they’re either experts in and you’re not, or that you don’t like doing and they do, or they’re freeing up mental energy for you. Five hours is a big deal. Like that’s, that’s a big deal. Think about starting small. Small, small, small. 

Now, I mentioned I have a hard time trusting people. So here’s what I have done. I hire people that I either already know, or that are a trusted referral. I am not in a position, uh, mentally right now to hire a total stranger.

That’s just not going to work for me. Maybe it does for you. And if it does, that’s totally fine. If you don’t have the trust issues I have, which is great. But I need to know that as much as possible that I trust the person that I’m hiring to help me. I mean, think about authors hiring us as editors. They can hire complete strangers, and they often do, but aren’t those referrals just like, chef’s kiss?

Like, we know that someone else has already worked with this person. They can tell us how the working relationship was. They can recommend them or not recommend them. Referrals are huge. So that goes for us as editors when people are looking to hire us, but it also goes for us when we’re hiring other people.

So luckily I had hit it off with another editor through some networking stuff, and come to find out she was also a gem at processes. And so now we work together about ten to fifteen hours a month. And she is helping me with my day-to-day tasks and my bigger projects. And it, I know this sounds dramatic, but it truly has been life-changing.

The fact that I could offload some of these things on my plate that someone else is capable of doing, but that I was doing because I was being stubborn, and now have that time to focus on The CEO tasks that only I can do, I couldn’t be here today without her. So ten to fifteen hours a month, that’s not a lot.

If it’s a four-week month…oh, why did I just put myself on the spot for math? So that’s about four hours a week. Yeah. Eh, give or take like three-ish, maybe sometimes less. That seems like such a little amount, but oh the stuff that she can get done in that amount of time alleviates so much stress and burden off of my shoulders. I will never not have someone helping me with those things now. If that’s any indication of how helpful it’s been. 

So the other area that I needed help with was podcast production. I didn’t do podcasting for the longest time. For many reasons, of course, the burnout and all of that, but again, I was doing everything, most everything on my own and that had to stop.

I just don’t have the time to do all of it again, like this go-around. So I had been following a company for a long time on Instagram, so I knew what they were about. I knew the other clients that they worked for. And I had a personal recommendation for them. So it was a no-brainer. I was like, okay, this is great. And here we are today. So, you know, it’s working, right? Oh, I’m so excited about the podcast. I can’t even tell you. 

Okay. So next tip is to have clear expectations and a clear contract. Like I said, I was doing everything for myself in my business, and due to that, I knew that some things were just a mess. Or I knew that I understood what they meant or what they, uh, were supposed to be, but someone from the outside would have no idea, right?

It was like in my own little code or my own filing system kind of thing. So I had to be very up front. With my productivity assistant and say, you know, hey, real talk. This is going to be a challenge. Like I’m supposed to have this stuff in place for you so that you can do it, but I don’t have the stuff in place.

That’s what I need help with. And thankfully she took it on with gusto because she loves doing that, and I made it aware and I didn’t go into it, you know, going, oh, this is going to be so easy and everything is everything is organized because she would quickly find out that it was not and that is a very good way to set up a very poor working relationship.

So have a contract, have clear expectations for what you are looking for, or if you’re not super clear, be up front about it with the intention of getting clear about it. I know technically before you hire someone you’re supposed to have this stuff in place. If my coach is listening to this, no, you’re not.

But the fact of the matter was is that I was just so in the weeds that I just, I asked for help before I had my stuff in place. But thankfully, they have helped me get it into place. So, that was my experience.

I also just suggest taking something off of your plate that you don’t like. That you despise. Because not only are you going to get your physical, like, actual time back, you’re going to get mental energy back as well. So for me, that is anything to do with numbers. Bookkeeping and accounting, I have hired out for years. I hired an accountant right out of college, which I technically could have done them on my own, I think, at that point, but I just, there’s something about numbers and I can’t get over it, so I just hire that out.

So I know I’m comfortable with hiring people because I’ve hired a bookkeeper and an accountant for many, many years, but you know, when it comes to other things, I apparently have a block, but take something off your plate you don’t like. I can’t tell you how much of a difference that makes. Going back to the trust piece, if you are giving your new contractor, hire, vendor, service provider, access to logins or passwords, use something like LastPass or any of those other password managers so that they can access your login, but they can’t see your password.

And obviously only share what you’re comfortable with sharing. And this goes back to the yucky part about maybe firing or letting someone go. If you use a password manager like this, all you have to do is revoke their access and it’s done. You don’t have to change your password. You still can for an extra layer of security, but you don’t have to go through all this.

What do they have access to? What do I need to revoke? It’s all in LastPass or, or your manager. And you can just, with a few clicks of the button, remove them from access and move on with your day. I also suggest doing a trial period or a test project to make sure it’s a good fit.

Now editors, what do we do for that? We do sample edits. It’s just like that for when we’re hiring someone. What a great way to see what their work looks like, how you work together, what their style is, does it mesh with yours, are they providing the work that you’re looking for. It’s just like a sample edit. Maybe it’s a sample graphic if you’re hiring someone to create your social media graphics. Maybe it’s a test blog article if you need help writing blog posts. Whatever the case may be. 

Have a test project to see how they work and see if it’s going to work out. Also the trial period is also great with the trust factor because if you say, I don’t know, you’re going to work together for thirty days, the end of thirty days, you’ll reassess and either continue the contract or not.

It makes it a little less awkward to sever ties because you can just say, hey, our contract trial is up. Thank you so much for your work. We are going to move in a different direction, but appreciate your help. It, you know, it’s always going to be slightly awkward, but at least you have that to fall back on with the contract.

Now, all of this stuff I was talking about was business related for the most part, but the same applies to personal stuff as well. And that, you know, that can cover so many things. It can be housecleaning, yardwork, laundry, childcare, which I know, childcare, like, that’s its own thing. But it can go with anything in your life that you want to get rid of and need help with.

And remember that hiring out, I know we automatically think of a money exchange, but It can be a barter or an IOU favor. I mean, it depends on who it is you’re working with, or if it’s, you know, maybe a family member is pitching in for a little bit and it’s something that you can exchange favors.

Maybe you can edit something for someone if they’re providing another service to you. Keep that in mind. It doesn’t always have to be a monetary exchange. It can be an exchange of services. Which is great when you’re first starting out too, because cash flow is not usually, you know, super flush when you’re starting a business.

And above all else, I want you, and I’m going to remind myself too when I say this, to give yourself grace if it doesn’t work out with someone. How often do bosses at a company hire the right employees 100 percent of the time? Never. We know perfection is not attainable. We can get as close as possible, but things change.

People change. We go through seasons of life. Companies change. And just because something doesn’t work out doesn’t necessarily mean you made the wrong decision. You made the right decision at the time with the information you had. So if you’re like me and you’re worried about the firing piece, this is where having a clear contract on what to do to, you know, not move along with the relationship, having a sample project come into play, and also realizing that it’s not your fault, necessarily.

I mean, you know, we could go into more detail about that, but it’s not something where you should beat yourself up for having to let someone go or having to not move forward with a working relationship. It just happens. As long as you are respectful and kind and not, you know, a terrible human being when you’re severing ties, it’s going to be fine. It’s going to be okay. And I am saying that to myself as much as I am saying it to you.

All right, there you have it. I hope I gave you something to think about with asking for help. I know it is not easy. I am not saying it’s easy by any stretch, but I am saying it does make a huge difference. It is literally why I’m here with you today.

It’s why I’m going to be here with you in the future. It’s why I’m able to be working on new things for you that I’m super excited about that I will talk to you about soon. And it’s getting easier the more I do it. And it will get easier for you the more you do it. And the more courage you build up.

So, barring anything major, I’m back. I’m gonna be back regularly. Thank you to the production team for helping me be back. I’m excited. I want to thank you too, for your patience as I’ve dealt with all of this over the past, it’s been a year now, which is wild, but with the burnout and the #life and the coming back and then the disappearing and then the coming back and the disappearing, that was not the, uh, journey I expected to be on, but it’s the one that I ended up being on and that’s okay.

And I just want to thank you for all of your kind messages over the past, well, almost two years now since the podcast has been out. Even when I was away, you, uh, told me how much you enjoyed listening. You were listening again, which is amazing. Asking when new episodes were coming out and you asking is what kept the fire under my butt to get back into it because I did miss it and I did miss talking to you and I miss the conversations that these podcasts start.

So I’m back. I’ll be back in a couple of weeks with another episode. I’m going to leave you with some exciting news that has happened while I was away for my whatever we’re going to call it, extended sabbatical.

For those of you who don’t know, I have a membership community called the Freelance Editors Club. And I honestly forgot when I did this, but I know it’s been in between the last episode and this one, but I’m now offering a totally free two-week trial in the club. So you can sign up, you get access to everything. You get access to our community for free for two weeks. Uh, if you haven’t bought anything from me in the past, there’s no payment information required. There’s no risk. There’s no nothing. You get in there just like you would if you were a paying member, and you get to check out everything that the club has to offer.

So, if you are interested in that, you can learn more about it, and you can sign up at TaraWhitaker.com/club. Oh, and here we are with my line, and I’ve got a slight tweak to it. I still am not thrilled with it because it’s not grammatically correct in any way, but stay tuned. I’m going to work on it.

Until next time, keep learning, keep growing, and know that you’ve either got this or you will have it. Take care.

Thank you so much for tuning in to today’s episode. If you enjoy The Modern Editor Podcast, I would be so grateful if you left us a review over on iTunes. And as always, you can head to TaraWhitaker.com to connect with me and stay in touch. We’ll chat again soon.

The Modern Editor Podcast is Back

After a seven-month hiatus of the podcast, we’re back with a message I probably could have used back in November. Leading up to the day where I decided it was time to pause the podcast, I’d talked about my own experience with burnout and how it was important to be patient and give yourself the space to recover.

While I’m not 100 percent out of the burnout phase in my business, I’m actively working on my own recovery. In addition to my own burnout, I was experiencing unexplained fatigue, and it turns out I have sleep apnea. 

Upon recording the episode, I didn’t realize how long it had been since I had released an episode. I wanted to share what has allowed me to come back to the podcast—asking for help.

Asking for Help in Your Business

Like I mentioned before, I’m not 100 percent out of the burnout phase in my business,  but one of the most important things I realized was that while I needed time and space, there were still so many things that needed to get done.

This is where asking for help, delegating, and outsourcing come into play. I have personally struggled with this my entire life. I am an independent Enneagram 6 who has a hard time trusting others. Every bad scenario entered my mind when it came to asking for help.

I had asked for help in the past, so I knew I could do it and I was at a time where my business required it. If you’re in a space where you’re not sure if you’re in a season of burnout, but you’re also not sure where your time is going, consider doing a time audit.

How I Ask for Help and Prepare to Delegate

After performing my own time audit last year, I found that there were two areas where I needed help:

  • Overall business processes, workflows, and onboarding
  • Podcast production

Start small 

When you first start to ask for help in your business, you’re not hiring a forty-hour-per-week employee; just get help in the areas you need help in. I personally think that a few hours a month can make all the difference in your business, especially if you’re hiring someone to work on something they’re an expert in and you’re not!

Hire people you know or a trusted referral 

In most burnout phases, you’re not in a position to hire a random stranger. Going through someone you know or a trusted referral will alleviate so much stress and already add a little bit of trust to the process.

When making my own hires, I took this approach. I had connected with another editor, who I knew would be an ideal fit for the role of processes. We work together 10-15 hours per month and it has truly been life-changing. I was being stubborn in holding these tasks for myself. I will never not have someone helping me with those tasks now. 

Additionally, I needed help with podcast production. I had followed a company for a long time on Instagram, knew her clients, and had a personal recommendation for her. 

Have clear expectations and a clear contract

I had a very clear understanding of what I did in my business, yet someone from the outside wouldn’t have understood. I was very up front in sharing with my VA that the onboarding process would be a challenge. Thankfully we’ve developed those processes based on that understanding.

Take something off your plate you don’t like

When you take the tasks off your plate you don’t enjoy, not only will you get your time back, but you’ll also get mental energy back. For me, anything to do with numbers falls on that list.

Use tools for sharing personal details

If you’re working with someone who needs access to your login details, make sure you use a password manager like LastPass so you can protect the details and revoke access if you need to.

Do a trial period or test project

Just like in our own work when we do sample edits, you’ll want to consider a trial with someone you’re hiring. Make sure you know what their work looks like, how well you work together, if their style aligns with your style, and if they’re providing the work you expected.

A trial period is also great if you’re not wanting to continue the project, as you can not renew rather than end a contract.

While I specifically highlighted my own examples of hiring for my business, you could also consider hiring for personal tasks with these same ideas in mind. You could also consider bartering or exchanging favors—it doesn’t always have to be a monetary exchange.

Give Yourself Grace If It Doesn’t Work Out

How often do bosses at a company hire the right employees 100 percent of the time? Never. We know perfection is not attainable. Just because something doesn’t work out doesn’t necessarily mean you made the wrong decision. You made the right decision at the time with the information you had.

This is why we have trial periods, contracts, and expectations set in place. It isn’t a failure to sever ties in a working relationship. It’s going to be okay, and you’ll walk away with lessons learned.

Important Sections of the Conversation:

1:04 – Discussing Burnout and Recovery

3:58 – The Importance of Asking for Help

6:40 – Tips for Delegating and Hiring Help

16:19 – Personal Life and Final Thoughts

Mentioned in This Episode:

Work with Me:


Recommended Articles