There are already 101 posts about “101 things a virtual assistant can do for you.” This won’t be another one of those. This is about how to specifically find out what a VA can do for YOU.
Your Personal Ceiling
Every sole proprietor reaches a ceiling, where it’s impossible to do more business without additional help. For some people, that’s fine and they’re happy working up to that ceiling.
But if you’re reading this, I’m guessing you’re not happy with that ceiling and want to do something about it.
The first secret to successfully working with a virtual assistant is to know yourself. Specifically:
- What are you good at?
- What are you not-so-good at?
- What do you enjoy doing?
- What tasks drive you crazy?
- What do you need to do to grow your business?
- What would you do if you only had more time?
Take the time to answer these questions. Understanding your own strengths and weaknesses is an important step before you hire a VA. I would create a list:
Love: Writing content, talking to clients, making videos
Hate: Accounting, database maintenance, research
Your answers will probably look a little different from mine, but you should really write them down because nothing’s official until the pen hits the paper.
Now that you’ve analyzed what you like to, what you’re good at, and what you need to do, it’s time to figure out how to unload everything else. I mean why spend your precious time doing the stuff you hate and are terrible at?
It’s cliché but life’s too short for that.
Track Your Time
For me it was valuable to spend a week tracking how I spent my time. Like what Peter Drucker said, “What gets measured gets managed.”
I wrote down each activity and the amount of time I spent on it. Try it for a week; you might be surprised with the results. Or just try it for a day. It will be enlightening. Here’s a sample list:
- Reading and responding to personal email – 45 minutes
- Reading and responding to customer email – 1 hour
- Research for blog post – 1 hour
- Writing blog post – 1 hour
- Updating Twitter and Facebook – 5 minutes … and then I got sucked in for 30 minutes…
- Going to the gym – 1 hour
- Design new ad banner – 30 minutes
- Doing daily website maintenance – 1.5 hours
- Doing keyword research – 30 minutes
- Phone call with prospective client – 45 minutes
- Bookkeeping – 15 minutes
What to Outsource The next step is to determine which of these tasks you can outsource. In the most extreme cases, I’ve seen people outsource everything on that list aside from going to the gym. (And I’m sure some people wish they could outsource that too!)
It might be tempting to try and go big and aim for the promised land of the 4-Hour Work Week right out of the gate, but I would caution against that. It’s all about baby steps. If this is going to be your first time working with a VA, let’s start small.
From that list, choose a handful of tasks you’d like your VA to get off your plate. For example, maybe you start with:
- Blog research – 1 hour
- Blog writing – 1 hour
- Daily website maintenance – 1.5 hours
- Keyword research – 30 minutes
And just like that, you opened up 4 hours in one day!
Give it a try. I know your tasks will look different from mine but it’s a worthwhile exercise in determining how you are spending your time vs. how you could be spending your time. My bet is you’ll find similar results and end up happier, more productive, and more profitable because of it.