You start the week with the best of intentions. ‘I’m going to smash through my to-do list’, is your mantra. Until a few emails or a new project comes in, there’s an issue you need to attend or something simply takes longer than initially planned.
So, you find yourself operating in catch up mode, week-after-week, month on month, sometimes working on weekends. Sound familiar? If your one wish would be to have more time in the day, outsourcing could be your saviour.
Now, you’re probably wondering where to start. Like how you go about finding reliable support and what tasks you can outsource. You like things done a certain way and don’t have room for mistakes with your time-poor schedule.
Start shifting your mindset
It’s really quite simple. Overcome the mental barriers and you’ll open yourself to the opportunities. Get in the habit of thinking about outsourcing first. ‘Can I get my VA, PA or freelancer to do this?’
There are things that you do every day, every week. These repetitive tasks are a good place to start when thinking about outsourcing. For example:
- Action research
- Database creation
- Article writing
- Email management
- Website design and SEO
- Report writing
- Data analysis
- Marketing activities and materials
- Graphic design
This list will be different for every business. Brainstorm all the tasks that you can easily outsource, as well as the bigger projects and ad-hoc support (like website projects, app design, events and paid advertising).
Think about all the actions you take regularly to keep your business running, your customers happy and communication flowing. You’ve probably always handled these tasks, because they’re second nature to you now. But, they’re time-consuming and keep you chained to working IN your business instead of ON it.
All the things you do, outside of your genius zone
Let’s say you run a coaching business, helping ‘women entrepreneurs’ thrive both personally and professionally. You could hire a VA to create a database of female-led start-up companies in your state, so you can connect with them on LinkedIn and start building online, networking relationships.
If you launch an online course, your VA could help, setting up videos, updating the website, and replying to enquiries. Spending too much time on social media or always racking your brain for content ideas? Your VA could set up Google Alerts to trigger industry or topic-related content to you to check and then share with social media posts scheduled by them in advance.
The biggest advantage of hiring a VA is freeing you up to work on the projects that play to your strengths and serve your vision. What are the income-generating activities that would propel your business forward?
Of course, there are tasks that might require more hand holding, such as email management. If you’re resisting handing over control, instead of having a VA manage your inbox, you can create a better system for it. Leverage the folders, colour coding, and urgency functions to compartmentalise the beast that is your Inbox.
Remember, you decide the depth at which you work with virtual assistants. Start small and work your way up.
Experiment with Upwork or Fiverr
You might hear you inner-accountant whining, ‘why hire someone when I can do this myself’. Make this an opportunity to discern how much you’re willing to spend. What is the right balance for you? Your billable hourly rate versus your quoted out-sourcing rate? It’s worth observing all the things you do in a week and identifying the tasks that are below your skill (and bill) level.
Again, you can decide how much you want to start with to manage the possible risks. Once you’re clear on the tasks you’d like to outsource, develop a job brief that walks them through exactly what you want from them. Leverage the job boards like Upwork and Fiverr, as well as your own freelance and consultant networks.
Don’t be afraid to ask for examples of their work, as well as references (or check the star rating on the platform). Ask your network for referrals. Consider working with a few people to get a feel for who you prefer. This is also a smart risk mitigating strategy. Always be clear about your expectations, especially if there’s communication or cultural barriers. Equally importantly, keep an open mind.
Be patient, finding good people takes time
While outsourcing can be daunting and more of a hassle when you’re busy, finding the right VA (or team you can reply on) is so worth it. Be conscious of the risks, keep your sensitive information private, and be as definitive and descriptive as you can. Leverage task management tools and practice cultural awareness. Start with a small trial or task and work your way up from there.
Outsourcing, done well, can free you up from deflating, menial daily tasks… so you can do more, think bigger, and actually enjoy the ride. And it doesn’t only relate to business tasks – consider what you could outsource in your personal time too. #1 priority might be cleaning, the decluttering, gardening, washing and ironing, pool cleaning and maintenance jobs around the house. When you are working so hard to build your business you need some switch off time too!
Need extra help overcoming fears about outsourcing? Book a free one-on-one coaching and mentoring session with the Australian Government funded Entrepreneurship Facilitator Service.