A question I hear often when talking with potential clients is, “A Virtual Assistant sounds great! But exactly what do I outsource to her?” Some things are better delegated than others, and here is a “quick and dirty” guide of what to outsource, what to keep, and why:
Categories of Things NOT to Outsource:
- Revenue generating activity – your core business
- Things you love to do
Categories of Things YOU SHOULD OUTSOURCE:
- (Don’t have skill) Things you don’t know how to do well and need an expert
- (Don’t have patience) Tasks you dread doing
- (Don’t have time) Assignments adjacent to your business that you simply do not have capacity for
Let’s say that you run a boutique video editing firm for personal (wedding videos, etc.) and promotional (marketing clips, infomercials, webinars) video clips. You love editing video, you’re good at it, and that’s why you made it your business.
What you do not love: accounting and marketing.
Doesn’t it make sense to hire an accountant and marketer, while continuing to edit video, the reason you got into this business in the first place? Just because you love teaching yourself new tools to do your job faster and more precisely does NOT mean you know anything about social media, blogging or self promotion. Just as you would hire a lawyer to represent you in a legal matter, you would be smart to hire someone well versed in marketing to promote you. This is the first category – find a Virtual Assistant who is good at things you are not.
Your professional To Do list is permanently growing – you’re supposed to research and identify the best vendor for your new business cards, letterhead and promotional materials. You have your logo ready, but you hate research. While you’re researching that, you may as well sit on the phone with Verizon to find out why they’re overcharging you, but you cannot bear the thought of having to deal with them, nor can you handle identifying an alternate phone provider – what’s the best deal out there for you, what makes the most sense based on your requirements, and what is the hassle involved in switching? THIS you outsource. It has to get done, it’s annoying, and you don’t want to do it, so it just sets up camp on your To Do list. Believe it or not, there are people who love performing comparison research – these people are Virtual Assistants as a career choice.
In the best case scenario, you are so busy that there are things you simply cannot get to. The smartest thing to do is to keep all of your sales development activity in a CRM solution – in fact, your brother-in-law recommended and installed one for you. You have never updated it – you are too busy signing contracts and doing the work to document any of it. This is the perfect opportunity to outsource a responsibility – it’s not that updating the CRM with all of your contacts, potential business and relationship building is torturous or difficult – you simply do not have the time to attend to it. THIS you outsource!
I walk potential clients through these three categories of outsourcing and they are often amazed –not because I’m a genius, but because these hard and fast rules seem simple and easy to follow; it just didn’t occur to them. That’s why we’re here!
For example, I don’t like booking airplane tickets, but I only fly 3 times per year, so it’s not the best task for me to outsource to my assistant because it’s not frequent enough. (However, an executive who flies twice per week should definitely outsource this task.)
Scheduling client calls, which happen a few times a week and involve several moving parts, is a perfect task to outsource to my Virtual Assistant. She knows the time of day I prefer to schedule my calls (mid-afternoon EST, please!) and that I like to receive a reminder email and calendar invite. She even emails all participants one hour before the call to ensure that there are no last-minute cancellations. All I need to do is pick up the phone to speak to clients (something I LOVE to do), as my Virtual Assistant has done all the organizational work!