What's New: Simply Helpful

September 26, 2012
Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Welcome to What’s New Wednesday, where we profile local startups—and the entrepreneurs behind them. This week, meet Tara Elder, who launched Simply Helpful in April to aid entrepreneurs and other business leaders overwhelmed by their to-do lists.

Business: Provides office-support services on a contract basis

Location: Indianapolis

Phone: 946-1993

E-mail: tara@simply-helpful.com

Website: Simply-Helpful.com

Founded: April 2012

Owner: Tara Elder

Owner’s background: Elder, 33, enrolled at Indiana University as an art major but changed her focus after deciding she didn’t want to make her way as a “starving artist,” a stereotype she realized was closer to reality than hyperbole.

Tara ElderElder

She graduated in 2001 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology—a sure ticket to “buckets of money,” Elder joked—and landed a job in event planning at the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

After five years there, she spent another five years in admissions at the Art Institute of Indianapolis, which allowed her to blend her passion for the arts with her interest in workplace psychology by mentoring students.

When she’d had enough of the high-pressure world of proprietary education, she hired local career consultant Kathleen McDonald Siegmann’s Career Investments to help figure out her next step. The recommendation: Become an entrepreneur.

But Elder balked, instead accepting short-term consulting assignments for other Career Investments clients. She helped wrangle paperwork, document processes—whatever was bogging down their to-do lists. She loved it and decided to give Simply Helpful a go.

“It is so much easier to organize someone else’s things,” she said with a smile.

Why started business: The current economic environment has forced businesses of all sizes to reduce staff, increasing the workload on employees left behind. And the smaller the staff, the bigger the burden.

Elder cites a 2012 TD Bank survey that found 35 percent of small businesses report being somewhat or significantly understaffed. But most simply can’t afford to hire full-time help.

Simply Helpful aims to carry some of the load, taking on routine operational tasks so team leaders can focus on the big picture—like keeping customers happy.

“It’s so rewarding to come in and see that look of relief on their faces,” Elder said.

Competitive advantage: Unlike some other staffing agencies, Simply Helpful does not require long-term commitments or upfront fees. Clients can sign on for as few as three hours of help a week for a flat fee: $35-$40 an hour, depending on which of the firm’s two so-called “stress relievers” are assigned the job.

Elder and full-time employee Vicki Helderman discuss each client’s needs and figure out whose skills set is a better match for the task at hand. Because they’re not temporary employees looking for full-time work, they can commit to sticking around until the job is done.

“Clients don’t have to constantly retrain us,” Elder said. “They know who’s going to walk in the door.”

In addition to everyday tasks like filing and billing, Simply Helpful’s menu of services include policy development and leadership coaching—something Elder said has been popular with entrepreneurs who are used to doing everything themselves.

“As a solo-preneur, I understand,” she said. “Their business is their livelihood, and they’ve never had anyone help them before. They don’t know where to start.”

Potential problem and contingency plan: Elder has been pleased with the early response to Simply Helpful, signing up 10 clients and filling her schedule within three months of launch. But she’s being careful not to rest on her laurels.

“I can’t put all my eggs in my current clients’ basket,” she said. “I’m continually prospecting, seeing who else might need our services.”

So far, she has been able to avoid tackling the dreaded “double sell”—convincing a prospective client that it needs help and that her firm is the one to provide it.

“People are gravitating to this concept,” Elder said. “Everywhere I go, people tell me ‘I know someone who needs you.’”

First-year goal: After a decade of working to achieve her employers' goals, Elder opted not to formalize any performance targets for her first year on her own. She’ll be satisfied to have enough work to keep her and Helderman busy for 40 hours a week.

“This is not about being the next Starbucks,” Elder said. “It’s about finding the right balance for myself, my employees and my clients.”
 

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT
  1. So much for Eric Holder's conversation about race. If white people have got something to say, they get sued over it. Bottom line: white people have un-freer speech than others as a consequence of the misnamed "Civil rights laws."

  2. I agree, having seen three shows, that I was less than wowed. Disappointing!!

  3. Start drilling, start fracking, and start using our own energy. Other states have enriched their citizens and nearly elminated unemployment by using these resources that are on private land. If you are against the 'low prices' of discount stores, the best way to allow shoppers more choice is to empower them with better earnings. NOT through manipulated gov mandated min wage hikes, but better jobs and higher competitive pay. This would be direct result of using our own energy resources, yet Obama knows that Americans who arent dependent of gov welfare are much less likely to vote Dem, so he looks for ways to ensure America's decline and keep its citizens dependent of gov.

  4. Say It Loud, I'm Black and Ashamed: It's too bad that with certain "black" entertainment events, it seems violence and thuggery follows and the collateral damage that it leaves behinds continues to be a strain on the city in terms of people getting hurt, killed or becoming victims of crimes and/or stretching city resources. I remember shopping in the Meadows area years ago until violence and crime ended make most of the business pack you and leave as did with Lafayette Square and Washington Square. Over the past 10 to 12 years, I remember going to the Indiana Black Expo Soul Picnic in Washington Park. Violence, gang fights and homicides ended that. My great grandmother still bears the scares on her leg from when she was trampled by a group of thugs running from gun fire from a rival gang. With hundreds of police offices downtown still multiple shootings, people getting shot downtown during Black Expo. A number of people getting shots or murdered at black clubs around the city like Club Six on the west side, The Industry downtown, Jamal Tinsley's shot out in front of the Conrad, multiple fights and shootings at the skating rinks, shootings at Circle Center Mall and shooting and robberies and car jackings at Lafayette Mall. Shootings and gang violence and the State Fair. I can go on and on and on. Now Broad Ripple. (Shaking head side to side) Say It Loud, I'm Black and I'm Ashamed.

  5. Ballard Administration. Too funny. This is the least fiscally responsive administration I have ever seen. One thing this article failed to mention, is that the Hoosier State line delivers rail cars to the Amtrak Beech Grove maintenance facility for refurbishment. That's an economic development issue. And the jobs there are high-paying. That alone is worth the City's investment.

ADVERTISEMENT