Outsourcing: Developing a Virtual Staff

Can you manage other people? Many are not acclimated to giving orders yet very used to taking them. When it comes to business, it’s imperative to develop leadership...

Can you manage other people?

Many are not acclimated to giving orders yet very used to taking them. When it comes to business, it’s imperative to develop leadership & management skills. How? Trial by fire is what comes to mind.

I recently hired a virtual assistant (1000 miles away) to manage tactical aspects of my business. This can seem daunting at first. But, once you find the right person, you will wonder why you didn’t take the leap sooner.

Flying solo is common at the onset of your business, but you’ll soon realize that it’s easy to get lost in the details. Hiring a virtual assistant (VA) can help you pay closer attention to detail, improve project management skills & develop organizational structure. First, decide the business functions that can benefit from a VA.

For example, admin tasks, marketing, public relations and bookkeeping are often outsourced to experienced VA’s.  Next, begin your hunt for talent via Craiglist or Elance. Once you identify the right person, start by delegating small tasks.

I’m sure you’re familiar with the adage, “If you want it done right, do it yourself.” I hate to burst your idealistic bubble, but this type of thinking will ultimately keep your business in diapers and impede growth. People are key to the long-term growth of your business.  Whether you decide to bring on staffers or hired guns (contractors), as an entrepreneur, you’ll soon realize the importance of surrounding yourself with others that possess strengths to counter your weaknesses.

If I can do it better than an assistant, why should I pay them at all? Because the goal is to free your time to focus on bigger and better things. –
Timothy Ferris, Author of “The 4-Hour Work Week”

Here’s an example of my virtual life in action:

I woke up this morning, checked my email and started a game plan for my day. Meanwhile, my assistant had confirmed meetings with prospective clients, finalized paperwork, driven to the post office & expedited paperwork to me. The beauty of this — I was able to focus on activities that would make my day efficient, effective and productive.


Getting Started with your Virtual Staff

1. Decide what your business need is (e.g. accounting, email marketing, web design, etc)
2. Write a succinct, simple and well-defined project description (e.g. Step 1, Step 2…)
3. Compensate fairly; by fee or hourly
4. Post your project for maximum exposure via (e.g. Elance, Craigslist)
5. Select the appropriate candidate and manage the project at each step with pre-identified checkpoints and status updates
6. Set an aggressive deadline & rank the priority of each assignment
7. Communicate clearly and in writing
8. Empower your new VA to succeed in the small things as you prepare him or her for larger projects

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