In the last year there have been quite a few magazine articles and blog posts about Power Poses. The idea is certain poses make us feel more powerful and therefore we present ourselves and act in ways that yield higher success rates. After sitting or standing in power poses for just two minutes, studies show that we have higher levels of testosterone and lower levels of cortisol. What that means is we are more willing to take risks and we will perform better in stressful situations.
The options seem endless when thinking about what you can delegate to a virtual assistant. But what are the items that will help you reach your business goals the fastest?
Identify where you spend your time.
Often we are so busy being busy that we don’t really know where our days go. For a week, document where you spend your time.
Example: 1 hour returning emails about general FAQs on your product/service, 5 hours networking, 2 hours sending follow up emails and phone calls up from networking, 45 minutes entering new contacts
into database, 4 hours doing research projects, 2.5 hours writing articles, 30 minutes uploading new blog posts to wordpress, etc.
Add to the list things you’d like to accomplish.
These are items that are always on your To Do list or are looming projects that don’t get done. Maybe you don’t have time, interest, or ability to complete them. Add them to the list.
Example: start or update your blog, social media updates, reach out personally to each of your clients, create a new product to sell, upgrade your website, enter info from all the business cards you have been collecting into a database, etc.
Congratulations! You have identified the important items that must get done in your business. The next step is to determine what specifically makes most sense for you to delegate.
Prioritize what to delegate first… What do you HATE to do?
Identify the things you really dislike doing. Delegating these items will ensure they will be complete in a timely manner, you won’t feel guilty about putting them off, and you won’t feel frustrated when you have to do them.
Example: These items are different for everyone. Common tasks we have heard are bookkeeping, writing, research, event coordination, database management, following up on late invoices
What is possible for someone else do?
Mark the items that YOU do not need to do. Usually 80% of your list falls into this category. You are not committing to delegating these items, but you are identifying things that could be given to someone else. Remember, just because you are used to doing something yourself does not mean you are the only person who can do it.
Example: scheduling your appointments, research projects, placing phone calls on your behalf, sending follow up emails, project management, client communication, bookkeeping
Find recurring items that are time sucks
What responsibilities that take up a lot of your time? These are essential details but they keep you from spending time on the most important parts of your business. They are things that must be done daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly.
Example: posting blog articles, sending emails, research projects, scheduling appointments, formatting documents, data entry, replying to email inquiries, updating spreadsheets
Identify things that will let you generate income the fastest.
What needs to be done in order to increase income the fastest and most consistently for you? Identify these areas and focus on them! You can either have a virtual assistant take on the responsibilities or you can delegate the timesucking duties you have been doing that have kept you from the income producing activities.
Example: product development, customer service, follow up on leads, sending invoices, set up online store, marketing help
Start small but strategically.
By this point you have identified many items that can be delegated to someone. Prioritize this list and come up with the few duties that you will ask a virtual assistant to do first. Start with just a few items so you can provide feedback and be sure things are going smoothly. Select the responsibilities that will make the biggest impact for you – the ones that will help you increase income, give you the most time back in your day, or help you regain balance and sanity.
Virtual assistance is a term used to cover anything support related these days. Virtual assistants each have their own specific skill set and services they offer. In general they can take care of just about any of the business details companies have on an ongoing, seasonal, or project basis.
“The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good people to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.”
The most successful people have a talented team supporting them. Think of any entrepreneur who is growing their business, making a healthy profit, and has any sort of balance outside of work. That individual has at least one person assisting them.
We are all told to delegate, but most people fail in this area. It may not be a miserable, walls come crashing down sort of fail, but a fail none the less. Maybe the items you delegated are not coming back the way you want them so you end up spending time revising work you thought you got rid of. Perhaps the person who is supposed to be helping you doesn’t get things done as quickly as you would like or to the level you hoped.
All common challenges with busy professionals, and all fixable. Assuming the person is qualified to do the work, one of the top missteps people make when delegating work to someone is in the request.
Make me a sandwich…
For instance, if you were to tell someone to make a sandwich, how many end results could you have?! PB&J on white bread, turkey and swiss with lettuce and tomato on a french roll, tuna salad with pickles on rye … this list could go on and on. If you really don’t care what sort of sandwich you get, there is no problem with this, but if you hate mustard or have a vision of what you want the end result to be, you must communicate that.
I have seen clients ask a virtual assistant to create a template for their email newsletters. They say something like “use green and blue, and make it look clean”. More often than not, a person who makes this request really does have an idea in their mind of how the template should look, and when the template comes back different than that idea, they get frustrated.
So how can you fix this?
Be specific in describing your desired outcome.
The same client could have said:
- Match the blue and green tones that are one my website.
- Here are two examples of email templates that look “clean” to me – I like the curved edges and the two column formats. I also like that there is an image for each section and article.
- Here is an example of what I do not like and here are the reasons why…”
Next time you delegate, take a few minutes to prepare and then follow these 5 steps.
- Communicate your desired outcome as clearly as possible
- Give specific instructions, details, examples or resources the person needs to succeed
- Check for understanding from the other person and/or allow her to ask clarifying questions
- If time is an issues, provide your requested due date or ask how much time the person thinks it will take to complete the project
- If possible, start with small projects and give feedback so that you become more comfortable communicating clearly and your support person gets accustomed to your style and requests.
Follow those five steps and chances are the added detail in your request will save you from frustration and revisions in the future. Delegating gets easier with practice, and can become quite effortless and fun!
Do you perform any of these when you could be doing revenue producing activities instead?
These are some of the things most commonly delegated to a virtual assistant.
Organization and Maintenance
- Schedule appointments and manage calendars
- Enter/scan business card information into contacts database
- Data entry
- Create and manage online storage/collaboration space
- Scan documents for electronic filing
- Create and manage spreadsheets
- Set up and manage databases
- Create forms
- Format documents
- Organize email folders
- Track expenses
- Track inventory
- Update rosters
- Organize receipts
- Set up and sync online calendars
- Maintain process and procedure manuals
- Conduct online research projects
- Project coordination and management
- Meeting/event planning and logistics
- Trade show coordination
- Coordination of printing and ordering materials
- Coordination of speaking engagement details
- Schedule appointments
- Handle complaints or billing disputes
Marketing and Growth
- Create email marketing template
- Create autoresponders
- Website updates
- Create and distribute e-newsletters or print newsletters
- Create and distribute press releases
- Create and revise PowerPoint presentations
- Compile charts and graphs for reports
- Online article publishing
- Create or revise marketing materials
- Create and manage social media accounts (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, etc.)
- Update blog
- Identify other blogs on which to comment
- Proofread, edit and write articles
- Implement online marketing plans
- Identify potential partners, events, speaking engagements, etc.
Customer Service and Relationship Building
- Draft/send email or print correspondence
- Address, hand-write, and send cards (holiday, birthday, thank you)
- Place phone calls on your behalf
- Send gifts
- Create and send email newsletters
- Address all incoming requests and questions for the company
- Request and provide information to customers and partners
- Conduct client satisfaction surveys
- Connect with people via social media accounts
- Send materials to sales prospects
- Schedule appointments and follow up calls
- Enter contacts and record meeting notes in CRM
- Format, send, and track proposals
- Format, send, and track contracts
- Research leads and competitors
- Call companies to identify the appropriate contact
- Create, send, and track invoices
- Process payments
- Coordinate shipping logistics for products
- Travel research and reservations
- Online research
- Shop/reserve products online
- Research products and services
- Make dinner reservations
- Purchase gifts and cards
- Online grocery shopping
- Coordinate carpool duties
To be as productive as possible, identify items you are currently doing that are not the best use of your time, and delegate them to the appropriate people.