While you are focusing on growing the business and setting up speaking gigs, outsourcing a virtual assistant is just what you need so you can focus on the less important tasks. For instance:
- Email handling
- Providing aid to costumers
- Data entry
- Following up on leads
- Managing schedules
- Social Media postings
You may have already tried outsourcing, and quickly discovered it was a disaster for you. This is usually due to one or more of five common outsourcing mistakes.
- Not knowing in advance exactly and specifically what you want your contractor to do
Most importantly, don’t expect your contractor to run your business for you or teach you how to run it. She’s there to perform a specific, specialized function. Know what that function is, before you hire her to perform it! Before you interview her, write a list of tasks or business functions you are hoping she will perform, and do your best to find a contractor who specifically lists those tasks or areas as her specialty. Don’t confuse your contractor! Be specific and write stuff down (or do a Loom video) so there’s no confusion!
- Not creating an outsourcing plan
You can just as easily overspend your budget on outsourcing as on taking too many courses! Start with outsourcing your most energy-draining tasks—the ones that sap your confidence and mess with your mindset; or with outsourcing the undone tasks that are actually stopping you from making money right now. (For example, setting up a shopping cart for products you’ve already created, which are just sitting on your hard drive.)
- Not setting up clear protocols for communication or delivery
You need to specify and discuss deadlines, lead time (how long your contractor thinks a task should take plus when you need it done by), and how you will communicate and check in with each other. (By telephone? Email? Facebook messaging? Google Docs or other project software?)
You also need to decide and clarify whether or not your contractor reports directly to you or to another team member (such as a project manager, or to your VA). Make sure they get directions from one person…. and don’t confuse them.
- Not matching your outsourcing to your budget and growth
This happens when you don’t plan. You read that outsourcing makes money, and rush to outsource everything at once. Take your time. Get someone to do your email set up, then find someone to write them later when you’re really busy. Don’t do them both at the same time – do what you can with what you have.
- Not finding a contractor who is a good fit for where you are now with your business
Just as you wouldn’t go out and hire an executive level Personal Assistant whose last job was as assistant to the CEO of a massive corporation, neither will you want to hire contractors who specialize in working in top-level environments; for example, planning an international conference in Dallas, when you really just need someone to set up your webinar software and help you test it.
Really look at the wording of any contractor’s website before contacting her. Does she drop names that are far ahead of the level you are now? Does she talk about running teams of sixty people? Then she’s not right for you.
- Not checking references and properly interviewing your contractor
This is one of the most common outsourcing mistakes, and you are playing Russian roulette if you chicken out and don’t complete these two simple steps.
Find a way you are comfortable interviewing—for example, sending her a list of questions via email instead of Skyping for a video phone chat, if you are a phone-o-phobe or video-phobe. And at least visit the websites quoted in her testimonials to see if they are valid to your business (and actually live!). I recommend All Things Business Centers for VA services.
They handle things for our company and many of our clients social media accounts.
They even do websites and video editing for our speakers. They are our community manager for The Ready Set Go Speak program too.
- Not properly estimating your outsourcing needs
Start by journaling how much time it takes you to perform tasks that don’t directly make you money (example: Uploading emails to your autoresponder or formatting your Kindle book). This is especially important with repetitive tasks you do every month.
Another bonus to outsourcing these types of routine tasks: Your outsource specialist will likely perform these tasks far more quickly than you do. Click To Tweet
If outsourcing sounds intimidating, remember to start small—perhaps just by hiring a bookkeeper or a VA to help you with a specific task every month.
Remember, you can make it fit your budget by selecting a package that gives you a specific chunk of time at a fixed rate. Some folks use Fivver… I personally like using someone that is more like a partner – than a contractor. It’s up to you. Fivver and Upwork is fine but ATB Centers is my go to.
You will learn a lot about effective outsourcing just by dealing with your first contractor on a regular basis.
And remember that All Things Business Centers is a great resource for learning all about outsourcing: One step at a time.
Having systems in place and the right people to help you seamlessly run your business will not only allow you operate at maximum efficiency, you will no longer feel as if you’re all over the place with tasks and functions.
You’ll develop a routine and a budget, and quickly see where paying someone to do things for you actually leaves you free to make MORE money … doing the things you really love.
Taking care of business essential such as tracking, budgeting, banking and outsourcing will give you confidence and allow you to really let go of money stress.