If you’re here reading this, you’ve either officially launched your career as an entrepreneur, or you’re seriously considering it. No matter which it is, it’s definitely safe to say that you’re looking for ways to get more done every day.
I remember my first days as a business owner…and one of the things that resonates with me the most is how busy I always was. Not just busy as in “there’s always something to do and I can fill my days with pleasant activities” busy, but the other kind. The not-so-good kind. The “frazzled, flustered, ready to pull your hair out because you don’t have time to breathe” busy.
One of the biggest mistakes I made as a rookie entrepreneur was overloading myself with tasks, jobs, activities, and commitments. I tried to do everything myself, because I either didn’t trust anyone else to handle some of the responsibilities, or I thought I didn’t have the money to pay people to help me do them. To put it in the simplest of terms…
I didn’t value my time…and my time is my most valuable asset.
One of the cardinal rules of business is that if you don’t protect your time, your business won’t be able to grow. You need to conserve your time and energy for the elements of your business that require your special skills or personal touch.
Running a business requires that you wear a lot of hats, and one of the hardest things to do is to take off a hat and hand it off to someone else to wear. However, when you learn to let go of certain tasks, you free up your valuable time to work harder on the things that matter most.
Let’s look at some examples:
- You're not particularly good with numbers, but you do own books.
- You aren't a whiz with social media, but you struggle to keep up with Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
- You're easily bored with administrative tasks, so your schedule is always a mess, your voicemail is always full and you're late returning replies to routine emails.
Think about how much time you spend on these tasks that don’t interest you, don’t inspire you, and in the long run, aren’t maximizing your income. Now imagine handing these tasks off to someone else. Someone who likes doing them and wants to help you succeed in business…your Virtual Assistant.
Now, hold up, you say.
What’s a virtual assistant? How do I get one? How much do they cost? What can one do to help me?
The answers are simple:
- A virtual assistant, or “VA”, is anyone who can help you achieve your business and personal dreams without sitting next to you in your office.
- You can get one through various sources, but some of the best and most efficient assistants are easy to find online. Sites such as ivaa.org, upwork.com (formerly Odesk/Elance), and fiverr.com can be really helpful. Give them a look-see – they’re full of information and great candidates.
- You can get a great VA for $2.50 per hour. Seriously. This isn’t a scam or illegal. It’s a great value for your business. The world of business today is a global business. There are awesome VAs who can work remotely from the Philippines or India and are eager for an opportunity. In their countries, an hourly wage of two and a half American dollars per hour is more than acceptable. This is a good-paying job in these cultures. Personally, I prefer working with VAs in the Philippines, because their educational system mirrors our own, while the education system in India mirrors the British system. Most of the VAs I meet online speak great English and have an awesome work ethic. And don’t forget that because they’re on the other side of the world, they’re working while you’re sleeping. This allows your company to be productive around the clock! Check out virtual-assistant.ph for more information.
- And there are endless ways that they can help you. This is limited only by your own creativity.
Some other key facts about VA’s:
- They can work full-time, part-time or as needed.
- They can be in any location.
- Their main function is to free up your valuable time, so that your life is easier and you can make more money.
Here are five great ways to use a VA to grow your business and make more money:
1. The Agency Model
In this scenario, you hire and manage a loyal group of VAs to complete a full range of tasks and projects. You source and sell the projects, and hire VAs to actually complete the work. You mark up their hourly wage, which results in profit for you.
2. Lead Generation, Marketing and Sales
You can use VA’s to contribute in many ways to these essential functions:
- They can make preliminary sales-oriented phone calls
- They can fill events for you by working your contact lists through email, phone calls, sending invitations or in-person visits
- They can find creative ways to drive traffic to your website
- They can tackle "nurture marketing" tasks - supporting your current client base by handling requests, publicizing new products, programs or offers and troubleshooting basic problems
- They can manage your social media
3. Provide Customer Service and Conquer Repeatable Tasks
Remember…when you’re good, you grow! Your VA will help you stay organized. She (or he) will also make you more accountable because they’re looking to you for direction. Customers always want to work with great leaders who take responsibility for their success – or for their shortcomings.
4. Manage Your Money - Accounting, Collections and Expenses
Make sure you get a weekly report of all the funds going in and out of your account. Knowing is growing, so it’s really important to know where you stand financially at all times. They can also:
- Help with taxes
- Track expenses
- Follow up on unpaid invoices
5. Buy Back Your Time
- Do “busy work” that doesn’t make you money when you do it. Assign a value to each hour of your time by deciding how much money you want to make this year. Divide this amount by the number of hours you plan on working this year, and you’ll know how much an hour of your time is worth. If an activity doesn’t meet or exceed this minimum “dollar per hour” rate, it’s time to hand it off to your VA.
- Manage your website and technology.
- Do research, so you know what your competitors are doing.
- Do personal tasks such as booking travel, arranging speaking engagements, making reservations, and handling personal and business errands.
This may seem like a lot to take in at first. Bringing a VA on board is a big, big step – many entrepreneurs are terrified when it comes to relinquishing control of part of their business. But remember…
You’ll never feel completely ready to face this important task, so the best thing to do is simply take a deep breath and make it happen.
However, once you’ve trained your VA and she knows what you need from her, you’ll wonder how you ever got along without her - I promise. And you’ll probably bring in some specialists too…graphic designers, writers, tax experts…maybe even an IT guru. VA’s are like chocolate – having them can become addictive. Once you experience the freedom and flexibility that a VA brings to your work and personal life, you’ll be hooked.
If you have any questions or need more great resources on locating the ideal VA for your Dream Team, just drop me a line. I’ll be happy to chat a bit with you about leveraging the skills and talents of a VA to benefit your business.