Entrepreneur lesson numbers 1, 2 and 3.
I thought that when I became self-employed I would have loads of time to do everything and that my life would just open up. I also thought that as a small business owner it is my duty to be prudent and not to spend ANY money on staff. I have heard other business owners talk about the importance of not trying to do everything yourself and thought, "If you're a small business, you need to do everything yourself."
This is very wrong, very very wrong!
Two months into my business, I have found that social networking is important to drive traffic to my websites but it takes tonnes and tonnes of time!! Geez, I have spent so much time posting links of blogs I have just written to various sites instead of spending that time either making phone calls, writing more great copy or coming up with new strategies. My time is not being well spent!
Secondly, nowadays you don't need to spend a fortune to have an assistant. You can actually pay a very decent fair wage to a virtual assistant to whom you assign all tasks that can be passed on. This is great! Why have I not been using this technology all along?! I'll tell you why: because I hadn't read the Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris yet so I didn't know that I could be making use of such a service. My assistant starts on Monday!
First things first, what is a virtual assistant?
An assistant that works remotely. She isn't in the same office as you. You could be in New York whilst she works from London. In my case, she's a pretty lady called Uneza in India. She is a university graduate.
So, how does one go about assigning tasks to such a person?
1. Decide what you are not good at doing:
I am not good at admin and other such repetitive tasks e.g. putting my receipts into a spreadsheet. I save all of them in a directory as PDFs easily enough but find it hard to make the extra effort to put them all neatly into Excel.
2. Decide what is not cost efficient for you to do:
Once I have decided on a social marketing strategy e.g. post links to "such-and-such" a new hot social network to be, I do not need to be doing this myself. It can be passed on.
I can respond to follow-on comments if they require specialist knowledge but other than that anyone can do that work. Social networks are a time vortex: you will always find something to distract you and if you want to have oversight, allocate an hour at the end of the day. Don't get lost in them.
3. Decide things you don't want to do:
See one and two - I don't want to be doing any of that. In addition, I frequently need to dig up emails or information on something - one does not have to do one's own websurfing.
4. Decide on repetitive tasks that can easily be passed on:
Most things are repetitive e.g. data exercises, formatting tasks or copy-and-paste jobs. These things are ripe for passing on to an assistant and anyone that looks closely at their to-do list will see there are many repeat tasks that can be done by anyone that has a computer.
I cannot wait for my VA to start. Feedback will follow.
1. Tempus fugit - time flies and it flies even faster if you are a business owner.
2. Value your time. You might make more money if you spend some effectively increasing the quantity of yourself available with an assistant.
3. Your assistant could be sat in another country entirely, they do not have to be present. In fact, more might be achieved if they are not present.
By Heather Katsonga-Woodward
I'm always thinking, debating, considering and revising my views - some of those deliberations will be shared right here.