How a virtual assistant can help you become a Delegation Ninja!
When I first met Heather Kernahan at a breakfast talk I gave for women entrepreneurs, she was the only woman in the room with her hand in the air. I had just asked how many women used a virtual assistant. Heather, the President of Eastwick, a digital media company that helps businesses tell their stories online, was full of enthusiastic praise for hers:
“I thought I couldn’t afford it, but as soon as I did, all of this work started coming off my plate. I stopped working 16 hour days and was still more productive than I’d ever been. I was able to devote time to getting new clients and higher level work that really needed my attention. I love my VA!”
Why we struggle with delegation
Seeing all the women who didn’t raise their hands reminded me just how much we struggle to delegate. I think it comes down to the fact that women are very good doers. We know full well we can tackle any task. We want to do it ourselves. We want things to be perfect and we’re willing to work hard —that’s why we started our own businesses, after all.
So we take on more and more, believing we can do it all. When issues come up, we take those on too and then we scramble! But that’s an easy way to burn out (like I almost did), which is why I’m such a big believer in working smarter, not harder.
Work ON the business, not in it
One of the best ways to build your delegating skills is to hire a VA, even if it’s only for a few hours a week. If you’re concerned about the cost, remember that when you hand off some of the lesser important tasks that are taking your time, you’ll have that much more time to work ON the business (not in the business), increase your productivity, get new clients and scale up.
In my book Million Dollar Women, one of the key take-aways (spoiler alert) was that you are your most valuable asset. So instead of doing the tasks an assistant can easily take on, you could hand off that work and invest in the personal and professional development that will help you take your business big.
Spending the money may just force you to confront and prepare for a reality that you’ll eventually have to face: No woman entrepreneur has made it to a million doing it all herself. There is a reason that “To go big, don’t go solo” is one of the 10 Million Dollar Women Mantras.
Are you handling bookkeeping, data entry, appointment making and other tasks that could be easily delegated to someone else?
If you’re shaking your head right now, thinking, “Yes, but I’m the only one who can do the job correctly,” I have a sneaking suspicion that you might be an octopreneur—picture an entrepreneur with eight arms trying to do everything herself!
I encourage all octopreneurs to use my Delegate Your Way to the Top worksheet (which can also be downloaded as an Excel file), which will help you determine the 5 percent of things you do every day that you’re really, really good at, that you enjoy doing and that only you can do.
Anything that doesn’t fall into that 5 percent can be outsourced or delegated, which will eliminate those 8-armed tactics that are wearing you down.
It’s okay to start small
Have your VA start scheduling appointments, checking emails, typing up business cards, managing your social media, and inputting sales data — whatever tasks you know you don’t need to be doing. Don’t expect the tasks to be done 100% right initially. If it’s done 80% right, that is success. Then help your VA learn how to do it better for the next time, and you’ll become a better manager in the process.
An alternative to a VA if you want to start with just getting help with your appointments is x.ai. This artificial intelligence bot is able to schedule meetings for you and is less costly than a VA. However, it’s important to note that x.ai is not yet fully reliable, and according to entrepreneurs I know who are using it, only 80% accurate.
How I learned to flex my delegating muscle with a virtual assistant
There was a time when I was approaching the burn-out stage—I was CEO and Head of Sales, had two nonprofit board commitments and was still trying to be the best mom to my two boys. Hiring a VA was one of the best things I ever did for myself, not only because it got work off my plate, it also taught me to delegate, which became a necessary muscle to tone as Little Pim grew.
Here is a sample of things that I delegate:
- Making travel plans.
- First drafts of PowerPoint presentations.
- Scheduling meetings.
Even delegating some personal tasks, like house cleaning and food shopping, frees up time (six hours per month thanks to my house cleaner and three hours per week thanks to Fresh Direct and my babysitter).
The concept of a VA is so critical that I devote a whole chapter to it in my book, Million Dollar Women, but here’s the quick and dirtly:
Once you start outsourcing tasks to a VA, you can celebrate these three wins:
1. You never have to do that task again! Even if you lightly oversee things, the amount of time and effort you spend on that task will be significantly less.
2. Your company won’t fall apart without you! If you’re ever not available, someone else will know how to handle things.
3. Your delegating muscle gets worked out! Now that you know how to manage people and tasks, you’ll be able to onboard new employees without much effort.
Just like anything else in business and in life, once you see positive results, you’ll want to continue doing it. And the rewards will be exponentially beneficial to your business and your personal life.
For more time-saving tips and tools, check out my last blog that shows you how to go from overwhelmed to super productive.
Until next time,
P.S. Follow Heather Kernahan on Twitter at @hkernahan and see the cool things she is doing to get her clients get noticed at Eastwick.com.