Ready, Set… Delegate!
As a small business owner myself, I really do “get it” that your business is your baby. You founded and built something to be proud of – with dedication and perspiration – yourself.
It is cause for celebration that you have expanded enough to require qualified support – you know you can no longer handle each and every task independently.
Enter the Virtual Assistant.
To most efficiently utilize your newly-hired helping hand, however, you will need to delegate tasks that had previously been yours, alone. Of course, this is entirely the point – but learning to let go of some of the tasks is a process involving both psychological and logistical preparation. For some of us (control freaks!) it can be difficult to separate from being as intimately involved as you have been up until this point.
From one business owner to another, I’ve put together some handy exercises to prepare you to Let. Go.
Ready, set… delegate!
Keep a delegation list. Prior to beginning with a Virtual Assistant, give yourself a week with an ongoing list (yes, an actual list – not just a list in your head) next to you at all times. Actively think through each task you perform. Is this something you would feel comfortable delegating? Do you really need to handle all of your correspondence, travel arrangements, social media posts, research, and all those nagging phone calls – personally? Wouldn’t it be great to get rid of that stuff? Examine each task for its delegation potential. When you find one you consider eligible, write it down, even while it’s still just theoretical.
Ask your sounding board. Turn to someone you trust – your spouse/partner, confidante, coach or advisory board – what aren’t you good at? Really, nobody can be the best at everything. Maybe you’re taking care of things that someone else could do better or more efficiently right off the bat. Possible items that would fall in to this category might be blogging, seeking out potential speaking or networking engagements, identifying the best priced vendors, determining which social media channels are most appropriate for reaching your target audience, or secret shopping your competitors.
Document outreach guidelines. How many points of contact (correspondence, newsletters) do you want for your clients and suppliers each month? Do you prefer your social media presence to be predominantly material that is original (your published blogs or articles) or passed on from others in your field? Start writing these things down so your VA can hit the ground running with minimal formal instruction. When you come across content you feel your audience would appreciate, throw it into a “social media” file to give your incoming VA examples of articles, websites or blogs you favor.
Visualize the results. Not everyone’s the touchy-feely type, but give it a try. Imagine what you could get done with the nitty-gritty stuff out of the way. Surely, you would be able to do more of what you do best, which is why you run your business in the first place. Additionally, the dreams of reaching a point where you’re not being eaten by logistical tasks can become a reality by just letting go a bit. Even better – you’ll earn the possibility of enjoying some free time. Nice picture, right? Remember that vision.
Enter the interview process with a clear vision and expectations. When selecting a Virtual Assistant, you will be presented with a number of qualified, suitable candidates. Make the most of your interview with each applicant. Succinctly summarize not only what your business does, but what you envision your VAs role to include. At Virtual Assistant Israel, we expect that your business will expand, and as such, we know your initial needs may change throughout this expansion. And that’s okay. Even given those upcoming changes, you’ll feel more confident (as will your VA) with clear-cut expectations in place at the outset, even if they’re somewhat skeletal.
Avoid being overly concerned that your lists and files are currently disorganized. VAs are organizational wizards and can absolutely deal with that – scary, but it’s kind of what Virtual Assistants live for.
While many articles on delegating in small business instruct the business owner to lower her standards when outsourcing in order to find success – with a competent VA at your disposal, I do not believe you need to compromise. While there is always a learning curve involved, and your VA can never be you, perhaps she can perform some of your tasks even better than you can.
Loosening the reins in order to allow your small business to grow is not only liberating, it’s one of the greatest investments you can make in your company. Empower yourself by preparing to delegate, and your business will soar.
About the author: Aviela is a Virtual Assistant at Virtual Assistant Israel, a leading boutique Virtual Assistant firm based in Israel and serving clients throughout Europe and the United States. VAI employs American professionals who specialize in marketing, writing, administration and social media. Each VA has a U.S. phone line and works U.S. hours. Visit the VAI website to learn more and schedule your free consultation.