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Productivity / Outsourcing

Outsourcing to virtual assistants

I recently started thinking about ‘what I shouldn’t be doing’ in my business and my new perspective changed my outlook completely. Give it a try! You might find outsourcing to virtual assistants a good option for you.

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It was a conversation with a business mentor that got me contemplating things from this angle. Rather than thinking about what I could outsource, I started to look at what I wasn’t naturally inclined to do well.

My work with small business and career development clients focuses a lot on personal strengths. Using a couple of simple strengths tests (a good one to try is the Character Strengths test at http://www.authentichappiness.org/) we identify areas of innate talent so clients can build on them.

Now it was my turn to apply this practice to myself, albeit in a slightly different way.

I went back to the office and put a fresh piece of paper on my desk with the heading ‘Things I shouldn’t be doing’.

Over the next two weeks, whenever I found myself doing something that drained me or didn’t come naturally, I wrote it on the list.

"Like most small business owners, when I started my business I tried to wear as many hats as possible to keep costs down."

What I discovered at the end of that week wasn’t really a revelation, but it certainly was a helpful reminder that detail work just isn’t my thing.

Booking appointments, following up, entering transactions into MYOB and updating the database are the activities that I am most likely to do poorly because they don’t fit with my strengths.

I’m much better at creative activities like developing a new marketing plan, designing a brochure or writing a newsletter. I’m more comfortable networking, building relationships and working directly with clients.

Want more articles like this? Check out the outsourcing section.

And as it so happens, these are also the things that I enjoy doing most and the activities that are aligned with my top strengths.

Armed with this information I hired a virtual assistant (VA) and started handing over the tasks that I ‘shouldn’t be doing’.

Like most small business owners, when I started my business I tried to wear as many hats as possible to keep costs down. And because those things were just part of what I did every day, I hadn’t questioned whether they were most competently carried out by me.

On reflection, I realised it is false economy to use my time on tasks I’m not suited to. When I freed up my time to do what I do best, I became much more productive and more efficient.

Outsourcing to virtual assistants these days is completely flexible. I began by engaging my VA for three hours a week to see how that went. I wasn’t sure I’d have enough work to give her to fill those hours but as time has gone on, I’ve been able to hand more and more over to her.

Be prepared

The process of outsourcing to virtual assistants isn’t completely stress free. In the early days you’ll need to put in extra hours to finetune your systems and processes before handing them over to someone else. You’ll find some great tips to help you get started in this article on working with virtual assistants.

If you’re anything like me and lack attention to detail, you’ll soon see where the cracks are in your systems, and that gives you the opportunity to tighten things up.

But in the long run it’s well worth it. Your business will not only look more professional to the outside world but it will be more profitable as you focus on doing what you do best.

Hiring a VA has changed my life and my business. What impact has outsourcing to virtual assistants  had on yours?

Kate James

runs coaching programs for creative startup businesses and she facilitates mindfulness workshops retreats in Melbourne, Bali and Byron Bay. Kate is the author of Believe in Yourself & Do What You Love and Be Mindful & Simplify Your Life.

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