You know, deep down in your heart, that you can’t do it all. Even if you had the knowledge, even if you had the drive, there are only so many hours in a day. You could give up sleeping, or you could hire a virtual assistant who will not only do the things you don’t have time for, but will give you back the brain space you need to grow your business.
Now, you’re thinking of a hundred different reasons why this idea won’t work for you and you could be right. Working with a virtual assistant takes time and effort which sounds like it defeats the whole purpose. In the time it takes to hire and train a VA you could have done the job yourself.
But here’s the problem with that – if you want your company to grow you have to start letting go. Hiring a VA is as good a place to start as any.
Creating the Virtual To Do List
One of the hardest and most essential parts of hiring a virtual assistant is figuring out exactly what you want them to do. Which means first figuring out what you do on a regular basis. Grab a notepad and pen, go to your local coffee shop where you won’t be interrupted and start writing. Think about your daily tasks, weekly tasks and tasks that happen on a less frequent but regular basis. Start another page of wish list tasks – those projects that you want to do but keep getting backburnered for one reason or another.
Potential VA tasks usually fall into one of three categories;
- Tasks you can’t do yourself
- Tasks you can do but don’t like doing
- Tasks you like but you shouldn’t be doing
Tasks you can’t do yourself are the easiest to hand off. You have no graphic design skills so you hire a virtual designer to create a new logo. You don’t speak Spanish, so you hire a translator to rewrite your marketing materials. You’re probably already doing this in your business. Anytime you hire a writer, designer, programmer or ebook producer who does all their work from a remote location – that’s a virtual assistant.
Tasks you can do but don’t like doing is the area that’s going to make the biggest difference in your life. When you don’t like doing a particular task it affects you in two ways. There’s the time the task takes and the time and brain space you waste procrastinating and then feeling guilty because it’s not getting done.
These could be a regular chore like updating your company’s Facebook page, searching for outreach opportunities, responding to customer emails, or pulling together weekly reports from staff members.
They could be one-time or infrequent tasks such as event planning, creating a PowerPoint presentation, formatting your new ebook or making travel arrangements.
Tasks you like but shouldn’t be doing is a tricky one. The virtual assistant experts say it’s smart to hand-off small tasks so you can keep your mind on the big moves but I don’t entirely agree. If you enjoy writing the company newsletter then by all means, keep writing it. Sure, you could gain two hours by handing it off to a VA, but what are you really gaining? If writing that newsletter makes you feel more in touch with your company and customers, then it’s time well spent.
Maybe, as your company grows you can only write a portion of the newsletter or only write once a month instead of every week. Then you hire a VA to take up the slack.
Hiring a virtual assistant isn’t about handing off everything on your plate so you can pack your plate with more. It’s about taking tasks off your plate so you can breathe, create and move forward. If you’re not gaining anything from processes then there’s no point in doing it.
The More the Merrier
The term “virtual assistant” is somewhat misleading. It brings to mind an executive secretary who works somewhere other than a desk outside your door. But if you really want to gain control of your day, you’ll need a team of virtual assistants to handle a wide variety of tasks. Why? Because just like you, one person can’t do it all.
The best way to manage a virtual team is to work with a service. When you work with a site such as oDesk, eLance or Fiver, you choose your virtual assistant from a long list based on their skills, location and pay rate. You pay the site when the work is done so you don’t have to worry about sending out a dozen small payments to a dozen different people.
The downside of these sites is that you have to do the hiring yourself – which means sifting through a lot of profiles, responding to emails and interviewing. After all that, you might end up with someone who isn’t a good fit and you have to start all over.
If you’re not looking for a long-term, dedicated VA, try a monthly fee site like Fancy Hands (https://www.fancyhands.com) or Zirtual (https://www.zirtual.com). These companies give you a set number of requests a month and they do the hiring. Just email your task (Please find contact information for three companies that sell blue widgets in North Dakota) and you’re done.
These types of services are excellent for one-off tasks but not the best if you’re looking to build an on-going relationship with a skilled professional.
Learning to Let Go
The obvious benefit of hiring a virtual team is that you can get more things done in less time. But if you’re the owner of a growing business there’s an even more important benefit – you’ll learn to let go.
Let go of the minutiae. Let go of the micro-managing. Let go of the procrastination and perfectionism that’s holding you back. If you want to grow, hiring a team of virtual assistants is the only way to go.