Don't Think You Need an Assistant? Think Again

If you're ever curious about whether or not delegation works just take a look inside the offices of the most successful executives in the world. Past the heavy doors, luxurious furnishings and expensive espresso machines you'll see assistants hurrying around, shouldering up to 80 percent of a busy executive's day and ensuring everything runs like clockwork.

The assistant's role answering phones, scheduling appointments, booking travel arrangements and organizing research projects, may not always seem critical to a high paid executive's success. The assistants are not the ones in the conference room wheeling and dealing, signing multi-million dollar contracts, but writing off the vital importance a good assistant plays in an executive's life would be foolhardy. Any CEO worth her salt will tell you how much she depends on her administrative team.

Equally foolhardy, would be for a start-up entrepreneur or new business owner to dismiss the having an assistants as a luxury. As scrappy entrepreneurs, we often look at corporate big wigs as our polar opposites, when we should be taking notes on the things successful CEO's do if we ever want to grow into those positions in our own start-ups.

You Need Some Assistance
Whether you're a newbie or veteran entrepreneur, bringing an assistant on board will force you to delegate small tasks and focus your efforts on the "big picture" -- a scary but incredibly helpful proposition.

You're the one who started this business, you should be the domain expert who drives it. Don't let hours of your day get sucked up by things like tracking down where that shipment went or booking the cheapest flight you can find to your next conference. Delegate and put your energy into working on your business and creating great value.

See it in Black-and-White
Get started by doing this simple exercise. For the next few days make notes of everything you do (big and small) in and around your business. This could include researching for a new blog post, following up on sales leads or making tweaks to your website. It could also include sending flowers to your mother, filing receipts or searching the web for the best deal on a hotel room.

Everything you write down will fall into one of two categories:

  1. Stuff only you can do (i.e. hug your kids, seal a sales deal, wire frame how you want your website to look)
  2. Stuff other people can do (i.e. keyword research, compile a report, create a power point, manage social networks)

You'll notice that the majority of things on your list are things that don't need to be done by you -- you've just always done them yourself. Imagine what would happen to your productivity if you delegated all of those tasks to an assistant. Imagine maximizing the "stuff only you can do" segment and having that be your only focus each day.

Start Small
You don't need to run out and hire an executive assistant for 40-hours a week at $45k a year to get started. Instead, decide what tasks require your attention the least, calculate the hours they'll take someone else to do and start delegating to a part time assistant at first.

A good way to figure out what you should start delegating first is asking:

  1. What do you hate to do the most?
  2. What takes the most of your time?
  3. What saps your energy the most?

Anything that falls under one of these three groups and can be delegated to someone else, should be delegated to someone else. There is no reason for you to spend three hours tweaking power point slides, when your assistant could do it. Instead, those three hours could be put to good use perfecting the pitch and presentation before your big meeting.

Go Virtual: Save Money and Standing Room
Now that you realize you need some assistance (even if it's just a few hours a week) you need to figure out what kind of assistant is right for you. It's important for entrepreneurs to find assistants who won't cost them an arm and a leg, are flexible when it comes to hours, and understand the needs of small-business owners.

Enter the virtual assistant. My absolute favorite kind of assistant because of the beautiful freedom, affordability and flexibility they allow you. A virtual assistant can be based anywhere in the world. And because they work remotely, their hours are far more flexible. You also don't have to worry about providing them with a desk.

An offshore virtual assistant are often less expensive than traditional assistants because they’re from countries where dollars go much farther than our own. In-country assistants who commute virtually will often demand a higher hourly rate but are usually highly trained executive assistants who have years of experience with C-level professionals.

Some of the pros of hiring an offshore virtual assistant are their cost effective nature and the fact that often they’ll be working while you sleep. However, communicating by phone could be challenging, especially if your virtual assistant speaks a different language. On the other hand, working with a domestic virtual assistant -- or one in the same country as you -- will have every benefit of having an in-house assistant or administrator. The only real drawback that that he will be commuting virtually, so and can’t pick up your dry cleaning or bring you a cup of Joe.

Follow the Leaders
If you want to become a great entrepreneur you must do what great entrepreneurs do. Learn from industry leaders and start delegating early on, it will be uncomfortable at first (since we naturally crave control) but the more you delegate the more you'll see your productivity peak and your success soar.

Try delegating to a virtual assistant for just a few weeks, if you don't see a complete difference in the way you work and the way you run your business you're only out a few bucks and some time -- but if delegation changes your life like it's changed mine you'll never work the same and your business will thank you for years to come.

Maren Kate runs a startup that finds virtual assistants for entrepreneurs, she also blogs about her journey to become self made.

The Young Entrepreneur Council (Y.E.C.)The Young Entrepreneur Council (Y.E.C.) provides its members with access to tools, mentoring, community and educational resources that support each stage of their business’s development and growth. Our organization promotes entrepreneurship as a solution to youth unemployment and underemployment.

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