Let your Assistant Assist!

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This is the first in a three part series about letting go, delegation, building trust and some tools to help when working with an assistant.

You’re an entrepreneur, you’re passionate about your business, after all, that’s why you started it. You love what you do and have the skills and experience and a passion for the product or service and market.

As your business grows, so too do the demands on you, and not only in the core aspects of your business that you love to work on but all the other “stuff”. Keeping track of your customers, finding new ones, updating your website and social media, responding to emails, keeping business records, managing your expenses plus a whole seemingly endless list of other tasks. You begin to feel overwhelmed. If you’re like I was, then you recognise that these other tasks need to be done, but not just yet, you think, “I’ll just get this next thing done and then I’ll tackle the backlog”. Then something else comes along and soon the “stuff” that’s been put off has multiplied and you’re forced to pay attention to it. So you put in a massive effort, clear the backlog and at the same time tell yourself that this is not going to happen again. But it soon overwhelm strikes again and you finally accept that help is needed. Help to handle the day to day, to enable you to focus on the main part of the business.

Accepting help
Realising that help is needed is a great first step, and a big step, but relatively straight forward – at least it appears that way at first. Deciding whether a full time employee, contractor, or VA is needed is another big decision, but there’s another issue which is often not recognised until it is too late and significant time and money is wasted. I’ll explain.

Most entrepreneurs are used to doing things themselves, wearing many hats, juggling all the balls, use whichever analogy you want. It’s your business and you know how it needs to be run, but there comes a time when you just need to accept that help is needed. You’re not ready for a full time employee so you reach out to a Virtual Assistant (VA) or go onto a site like Fiver or Upwork and find someone with the skills that you need right now, maybe generating a report, or getting your CRM system up and running or in shape, whatever is needed.

Working with your hired help
At first you are relieved, you’ve found someone to help. Then they start to work and you give them the basic information that they need to get going. First results are OK, not quite how you would have done it but they are new, you give them some slack. You make the changes yourself to make it just how you want it. Then the next task, same result. Hm, what to do? You may explain that what they did was fine, but you really like it to be done slightly differently. This works for the current task but then another comes along, same issue. Really, what’s wrong with these people, why can’t they do this my way? So, you’ll have to have a word with them. You explain what you asked for, and they tell you that that is exactly what they did. Does what they did meet the need, is it fit for purpose? Well, yes you say, but I would have done it this way…. you see where this is going. One of the hardest things for an entrepreneur to do is to “let go” and delegate effectively.

The results of not letting go and poor delegation are not only wasting money and not making good use of your hired help, but also duplicating work, taking time away from your core business and there’s a good chance that your hired help will not stick around. Good assistants take pride in their work and like to feel that they are making a difference as well as earning an hourly rate.

In the next article in this series we will be looking at some practical steps to take to help you “let go” and avoid overwhelm and then some tools to help you to build on your new way of working whilst maintaining control as your business grows.

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