Organization & Culture

Do you really need to hire a VA?

When we start out in business we often start off with a dream. The dream might be as simple as ridding local dogs of fleas, or as grand and wide-ranging as solving world hunger by building a leftover-food sharing app. It doesn’t matter what we do. We have a message that we want to share with the world and we can’t wait to get it out there. But does hiring a VA appear the list of things we think about when we start a business?

Typically a business will go through a few cycles before it settles into a recognizable pattern. Your strategy may change over time. However one thing is true of nearly all business owners and that is we usually only do something, or spend money, when we really have to – especially in the early days. We don’t start off with a dream to build a business and then decide firstly to investigate the perfect invoicing and payments system before we’ve even get a single customer. We find customers first and then worry about how we get paid. Yes we might have set up a bank account but that’s usually as far as we get.

Ok, so imagine you’re a year or so down the line from launching your business and so far, so good. You’re making a living but you find yourself increasingly doing more busy work ensuring that you get paid, more work comes at you from your accountants to get them information about your expenses and payments, more work on the marketing to grow your business further (because we could do with doing better right?) and suddenly you’re working 60 hours a week. How did that happen and more importantly, what can you do about it?

You decide that you’re going to hire a VA (Virtual Assistant) to help you out of this administrative hole. You decide that you’re making enough more to afford the expense and this will let you focus more on your business in the longer term. So you search about and get a recommendation on a great guy to help you out.

You start out Day 1 with your new VA and what do you do with them? You spend the whole of the first day explaining your systems to him and it goes pretty well but you realise that you barely scratched the surface. So you spend most of the second day handing over some more – this is fine though because you’re anticipating that there will need to be a bit of pain with this handover before you’re see the benefit, already you can feel the tension leaving you and your brain is switching on to new directions in your business.

On Day 3 you realise you’ve forgotten to handover some other tasks so you try to go through though but them realise that your VA is already overloaded anyway and you only booked him in for 2.5 days this week. It will have to wait until next week and until then you’ll need to pick up the slack yourself.

What strikes you over the rest of the week is all the stuff you’ve said to your VA over the last few days. By simply going through the task of handing over stuff you’ve realised how inefficiently you’ve been doing it all this time. There are simple things you could already have done to make your life easier and in fact you even implement a few of these. By the time he comes back the next week you have to revise some of the things you already told them.

Do you recognise any of this behaviour? You’re not having a unique experience in this handover – in fact your experience is pretty typical unless you have amazingly well constructed systems and processes. The true horror of it all reaches you a few weeks later when your VA decides that the can’t keep you as a client because your systems are too insane, or they get a better gig, or get sick and you have to train a replacement. Sure you’ll get better at training replacements but only because you’re improving your systems and processes as you go.

So let’s go back to the question at the top of the page. Do you really need to hire that VA or are you ready to take on process analysis and automation for yourself? Well you can get started with a few of my resources and if you still have any questions then feel free to get in touch!

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