Day in the Life: Ashley Cox of sproutHR | Ever wonder what a typical day is like for a HR Consultant for creative entrepreneurs is like? Now’s your chance! In today’s Day in the Life series, Ashley Cox of sproutHR shares the ins and outs of being a freelance HR Consultant, from start to finish. Enjoy!

Ashley and I became what felt like besties after having a long Skype session a few months ago. For one, she’s just so darn genuine and easy to get along with. Seriously, I think anyone she meets she becomes immediate friends with. Two, she has a passion for building real, honest relationships with people which is exactly what I’m all about.

Ashley offers a different perspective in this post for two reasons: 1) She is an HR consultant for entrepreneurs. Many of the past people who have been featured have been in the online marketing world and I knew I wanted to broaden the scope a bit to invite people outside of that industry and 2) She works part-time for a local organization while balancing sproutHR.

Ashley’s feature was actually supposed to go up a couple of months ago but it was happening right when she was starting this new part-time job, so we decided to push it back further so we could feature what a day looked like while balancing her own business and her part-time gig.

That’s what I love about working for yourself, you can do it your own way. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.

Anyways, I’m so happy we were able to take our friendship off the Insta and I hope to one day meet in person!  Hope you enjoy the post!

Want to be featured in the series? You can check out the guidelines and how to submit here. I’d love to feature you!

Day in the Life: Ashley Cox of sproutHR

Hey y’all, I’m Ashley and I’m thrilled that Brittney invited me to join in the fun of her Day in the Life series. Imagine that I’m opening my front door and inviting you in for your favorite drink. Come along as I share a glimpse into my life and business and chat about the stuff that folks don’t usually get to hear about!

I’m the owner and consultant at sproutHR, where I help creatives navigate the confusing and overwhelming world of hiring, training, and leading their teams. When I’m not getting geeky with all things HR, I love hanging out with my hubby, Mike, and our border collie-hound mix, Myla May (aka Myla Mayhem)! I’m passionate about building genuine relationships with others, traveling the world, getting crafty, and giving back however I can.

(Me and my love )

 (My baby, Myla )

Now that formal intros are out of the way, here we go…

6:30 am

Rise and shine! Time to get up and get ready for the day. Shower, dress, coffee and out the door OR head to the desk. Oh yeah, and when I work at home, I’ve probably skipped the showering and dressing part – but never the coffee.

(Isn’t this the cutest little coffee mug?)

In mid-March of this year, AccelNow, a local organization that helps entrepreneurs start and run successful businesses in Northeast TN (where I currently live) asked me to come help them out on a part-time basis. After careful consideration, I accepted.

Although sproutHR is where I’m fully vested, I was excited for the chance to give back and help other businesses through an organization that’s helped me in my own ventures since early 2016. But if we’re keeping it really real, I was a little jazzed by the fact that I’d be getting a steady paycheck, too. Because we all know those steady paychecks are hard to come by in the early phase of a new business!

Did I mention sproutHR has only been around 10 months as of the writing of this post?

(At my part-time job with AccelNow at our office located in the co-working space, Sync.Space!)

I work Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays at my part-time job. I get to work in this really cool new co-working space called Sync.Space. I then work Wednesdays and Fridays (and some evenings and/or weekends) in my own business, sproutHR.

I get to do some really cool stuff for both of my jobs, like…

  • attend local networking events (Fun Fact: I go to about 8-10 events each month!)
  • facilitate a nine-week cohort style program for new entrepreneurs
  • speak at local and online events about HR for your small business
  • work with city officials to enhance the entrepreneurial environment of our region
  • partner with small businesses (online and off) to get their HR ducks in a row
  • create awesome content to help growing businesses
  • meet the most incredible people all over the world

8:00 am

If I’m working at home, I may start my day a little earlier than 8:00 am, but when I’m working my PT job, I go into work from 8:00 am – 5:00 pm.

First things first – I review my short list of what I need to accomplish for the day (which I make the night before), then I like to check emails to see if any priorities need to be readjusted.

(The short list! My top 3 priorities for the day.)

I do this for both my business as well as for my part-time job. I think it’s really important to have a plan for your day, even if things get derailed. Creating a list of my 3 most important to-do’s also helps me avoid getting overwhelmed and distracted by ALL the things.

8:30 am

Time to tackle the biggest project on the list. Today, I’m writing a few job descriptions for a client. I like to work on my biggest, most taxing, or high priority projects first thing in the morning, when I need to give my full and best attention. A good 90-minute sprint is a great way to start the day off on the right foot and feel like I’ve accomplished something important!

(I love creating templates to use in my business for client work. They help me save time and allow me to serve my clients more efficiently! Here’s a sample of the beginning of my job description template.)

I think it’s important to know what time of day you function your best. I’m a morning person – always have been. So I try to schedule really important meetings or tasks for first thing in the morning. I save my easier tasks and coffee chats for the afternoon when I’m starting to lose my creative mojo!

10:00 am

I typically take a quick 10-minute break and have a snack like fruit, raw veggies, a cereal bar, or whatever I have on-hand around 10:00 am. I like to munch on my snack while I scroll through social media to see what’s going on in the world. Then it’s back to the grind!

(Myla thinks carrots are a good mid-morning snack! )

11:15 am

My lovely neighbor, Thelma, saw me working outside. I love to work from my back deck when the weather’s nice and it was in the low 70s this morning! So I popped down to our shared fence line to have a chat. Thelma and her husband, Ken, always have the best gardening advice and love to encourage me and my hubby in our gardening adventures and in our marriage! They’re the very best example of the wonderful neighbors you dream of having.

(Our freshly planted garden in early April and a view of the backyard today when I visited with Thelma.)

I finished up my job descriptions and sent them out to my client for review. Now I can move on to my next task on my short list – writing a guest blog post for my HR column, #askHRashley, for the Little Black Desk Society! I love this Q+A style column where readers submit their HR questions using my special hashtag on social media, then I provide a response via the blog.

11:45 am

I stay on a pretty regular eating schedule so when noontime hits, I’m ready to eat – otherwise, I seriously get hangry! Today I have a coffee chat scheduled at 12:00 pm, so I’m eating a bit early. I pack my lunch when I head off to my part-time job and eat at home when I’m working on my business.

Lunch isn’t fancy. I either eat leftovers from the previous night’s dinner or grab something quick and easy to fix. One of my favorite lunches to make is a simple meat and cheese tray like the one below, along with some fruit! Of course, Myla enjoys lunching with me when I’m at home, too. I’m sure she nearly starves to death when I’m gone all day.

(Do you ever feel like someone’s watching you? My little Snack Monster! )

12:00 pm

Time for that coffee chat with a new friend! I love meeting and getting to know other business owners. It’s something that’s really helped me stay connected and grounded in my own entrepreneurial journey. Today, I met Carolyn Keating with Wholesale For Creatives for the first time on Skype. We recently connected on one of Nevica Vasquez’s Digital Boss Roundtable episodes and knew we just had to meet. If you don’t know her yet and you have a product-based business, get your fanny on over to her page right now!! She helps you with all things wholesale – because that’s a cool way to grow your business, but there are some very specific things you need to do in order to get it right.

Holy cow – our 30-minute coffee chat turned into a nearly 2-hour session!! Carolyn is basically my business soul sister – we both came from the corporate world, tried out a creative endeavor, discovered creatives who needed our help with what we used to do in the corporate world, then decided to use our professional experiences and services to serve the creative industry. Not confusing, right? Oh yeah…and we brainstormed a workshop that we’ll be doing together on June 21st – so be sure to follow us on Instagram here and here for all the details!!

(We even created a shared Trello board for our workshop before getting off the phone! SYNERGY!!)

Check out what a day in the life is like for Owner & HR Consultant Ashley Cox! #dayinthelife #ditl Click To Tweet

1:40 pm

At this point, I only had about 20 minutes before my next call, so I checked my emails and popped into social media to check and respond to comments and posts.

One of my favorite things to do is help other business owners with their questions in Facebook Groups. I can admittedly spend too much time in Facebook Groups, but I find a great deal of joy in helping others. Especially if I can save them some time and headaches!

2:00 pm

Another great chat with the fabulous Brooke Olsen, of Brooke Olsen Consulting, which included some brainstorming and Brooke’s gracious feedback on a course I’m creating to help creatives hire their teams!

If you don’t know Brooke yet, she’s a super sharp and savvy business owner, who helps wedding creative pros simplify your life and business through pricing and financial assessments and workflow development and implementation. Basically, she’s amazing!

(My co-worker takes her role very seriously!)

3:00 pm

Since starting sproutHR, networking – online and in real life – has played a huge role in my business. Building genuine relationships is critical! You can’t network effectively with the mindset of getting without giving. I’ve invested a lot of time in building and nurturing those relationships intentionally and creating space for mutual trust and respect. No sleazy sales tactics or me-centric approach here, thankyouverymuch!

(Yep, I’m “that girl” who forces everyone to take a selfie! Sorry for my super awkward concentration smile. )

4:00 pm

Final email check of the day. I don’t like to spend all day in my inbox, so usually 2 – 3 times a day is my goal. Not being consumed by my inbox helps me stay focused on the tasks at hand, because that dang squirrel definitely gets in the way! Before I end my day, I also update my short list of tasks and see what needs to get done the following day. Then I close up shop.

I’m grateful that we were able to convert one of our spare bedrooms into a home office for sproutHR. It’s important for me to separate my work life from my home life. When I worked in corporate, I couldn’t leave my work life at work because corporate HR in the retail world is very much a 24/7/365 job. One of my favorite parts of owning my own business is the ability to create space and boundaries that support the life my husband and I want to live!

(My desk and side table my hubby helped me refinish one weekend! It used to be depressingly brown. And yes, I have a stepstool under my desk because I’m too short to put my feet on the floor!)

5:30 pm

Generally, my hubby gets home around 5:30 pm. Lately, he’s been working late nights and weekends because the branch he manages is undergoing a full remodel – yikes! Since he’s not coming home for another three hours, I decided to use this time to do some more work. Since I only have two full days per week to work on my business, I’ve gotten very good at prioritizing and being efficient with my time. But sometimes, it’s nice to have a little extra time to take care of those things that get pushed off to the side – like planning my social media (which I’m so bad at doing)!

7:00 pm

Some nights, I just like to binge on Netflix shows. I know, not super glamorous or exciting, but again, just keeping it real. This week has been especially draining with some late nights with my part-time job and making sure I’m taking care of business for sprout. So tonight…I veg with a burger. (Get it? Veg with a burger…okay, okay. I’m lame, I know!)

Most nights, however, we enjoy working in our garden, grilling and eating outside on the deck, working on projects like remodeling rooms, refinishing old furniture or cleaning out the garage, daydreaming about our next traveling adventure, and just enjoying the simple things in life.

(Who doesn’t love a good before and after?! )

10:00 pm

It’s time to hop into bed! We both get up early, so we typically go to bed between 10:00 pm – 11:00 pm. I like to read one of my books for a while (I usually have 3 or 4 going at one time!), while my hubby likes to watch YouTube videos, and then we drift off to dreamland! I’m at my best when I get a full 8 hours of sleep. I can go a few days in a row on less sleep, but then watch out! So, girl’s gotta get her sleep, ha!

(Puppy snuggles and reading!! )

Thanks for allowing me to share a little of my behind-the-scenes with you. Now, I’d love to meet you, too. Tell me in the comments below if any part of my day resonated with you!! I can’t wait to read what you have to say.

About Ashley Cox: 

Ashley Cox is the HR Partner for Creatives at sproutHR, where she helps you hire, train, and lead your thriving team, all with confidence and heart. She loves to make the confusing, overwhelming, and intimidating parts of growing and leading a team feel simple, actionable, and fun. 

Follow her: Website | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn | Newsletter


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