So you’ve reached a place in your entrepreneurial journey where you have the financial reserves to begin outsourcing your ever-growing to-do list – congrats!
Many small business owners immediately come to the conclusion that the first hire should be some sort of virtual assistant since the role is contract, covers a wide range of responsibilities, and doesn’t require an too much oversight.
But don’t call the hiring agency just yet! A VA may very well be the answer you’ve been looking for, but take it from a seasoned entrepreneur – there are a few factors (and solutions!) you might want to consider so that six months down the road you’ll feel confident that you made the right choice.
So without further ado…
3 Things You Should Consider Before Hiring a VA
Check Your Priorities
Have you considered the possibility that the reason why your to-do list has grown so extensive is because your business could be out of alignment with your priorities?
In the early days of ADP, I had every intention of being a full-service marketing agency. Web design? Sure. Google ads? Why not. Social media strategy? I’ve got you.
I realized pretty quickly that the ability to offer anything and everything to my clients required time, energy, and resources I simply couldn’t sustain on my own. And when the time came to move forward with this plan by seeking out investors and hiring a whole marketing team, something in my gut kept telling me that it just wasn’t the right path.
I didn’t want to be anything to everyone. I wanted to be everything to the right ones. That meant drastically scaling back my services in order to niche down and become the most effective web designer and brand strategist I could be. I adjusted my prices to empower me to dedicate the time I knew my clients deserved, and just like that, my list of to-dos was cut in half, almost overnight.
It’s time to get honest with yourself, so here’s my application tip of the day.
Pour yourself a glass of rose, leave your phone on the charger, step outside to sit on your porch swing and take a long, hard look at the trajectory of your business. Is it going in the direction you want to go? If so, it’s time to hire! If, however, you realize that certain services, products, or clients you are saying “yes” to are forcing you to say “no” to the projects that make your heart sing, then it might be time to scale back, niche down, and see how that workload treats you for a bit before jumping into the hiring process.
You Are More than Just Your Job Title
One of the most beautiful headaches of being a business owner is that the role doesn’t exist within a vacuum.
If we had to rock name tags which listed the various titles we wear on any given day, I think a few things would happen:
- We’d all be a heck of a lot easier on ourselves… and
- We would consider a more holistic approach to our to-do lists.
All of the hats we have to wear as parents, siblings, friends, volunteers, homeowners, etc. are what uniquely qualify us to serve the customers we’ve been called to serve, while simultaneously fighting for our individualized attention.
I’m all too aware that I am not just the Founder and CEO of a brand and web design agency in northern Colorado. I’m also:
- A mom to a 7-year old boy who rarely slows down.
- A wife to the head of operations at a growing church.
- A friend and support to a number of fellow business owners.
- A woman with a chronic disease which often leaves me feeling depleted.
- A homeowner in a small house that gets messy and cluttered all too easily.
- A daughter and sister to a family which is scattered across the country.
- A multi-passionate entrepreneur who loves to try new things.
I’m betting your list of titles could easily exceed mine.
So in order to outsource effectively, we have to step outside of the linear or compartmentalized way of thinking in order to accept that time and energy saved in any one of these roles will positively impact or influence the rest.
Here’s an idea I recommend trying at least twice a year, if not every quarter.
Buy one of those $2 spiral bound journals next time you’re at Target and plan on carrying it around with you for 5-7 days as you complete an all-to-necessary inventory of your time.
6:30-7:00 Walk the dog. 7:00-8:00 Get ready for the day. 8:00-9:00 feed the kids and drive them to school. 9:00-9:45 laundry and dishes. 9:45-10:00 coffee and morning pages. 10:00 start the workday, etc.
It might feel tedious at first, but as a business owner, you deserve to know the value of every hour so that you can outsource in a way that will actually buy back your time.
How much time do you use doing laundry or cleaning? How about time spent in the carpool lane? Is meal prep cutting too far into your work day? How many hours a week do you spend walking your dog(s)?
What tasks, if outsourced, would buy back the greatest amount of time and mental or physical energy each week?
If you answer something like emails, task management, and client onboarding then yes, a VA is undoubtedly the right decision.
If, however, you find that the hours you spend cleaning your house, washing and folding laundry, prepping your meals, or walking the dog are the most time-consuming parts of your workday, then investing in a service that will remove some of these tasks from your plate would be the better choice.
Quick tangent alert: For some reason – especially for women – hiring an assistant feels like a momentous accomplishment while hiring a house cleaner or paying for a meal prep service feels like we’re failing somehow. Here’s an interesting article outlining this phenomenon.
I’m here to tell you, you simply can’t live this way. That lie is what has kept women from the workforce for generations and is not often a weight our male counterparts have to carry.
Okay. Rant over.
So before hiring an assistant, take a more holistic inventory of your life and invest in the services that will most effectively move the needle forward in your business.
Invest in Sales Funnels or a Custom Website
Let me ask you a question.
Which is the better investment?
10 months working with a VA who charges $500/month for her services, or a fully-automated, $5000 website complete with long-form sales pages and funnels which will operate as a full-time sales employee for years to come?
The cost is exactly the same, but as far as an investment is concerned, there’s just no competition.
That’s why I always encourage business owners to invest in a fully-custom website as soon as they are financially able to do so, and then once sales start to come in, make your first hire.
A well-made website can afford you the ability to offer superior services and reach a broader audience than you could imagine possible which could then afford you the opportunity to hire a VA to write for, grow, and maintain the website in order to increase your digital footprint and, therefore, profitability.
I hope these suggestions offer some much needed clarity as you consider the next steps for your business. I know the unimaginable exhaustion you feel after clawing your way to this stage and you deserve some respite.
My goal is not to hold you back from finding the help you need to launch, grow, or scale your business. My goal is to empower you to make a decision that will move the needle forward in your business.