Is your business running you instead of you running the business? According to research from business consulting firm The Alternative Board (TAB)
Entrepreneurs spend 68 percent of their time tackling day-to-day administrative tasks, putting out fires, etc.
- That only leaves 32 percent of a business leader's time for long-term goals and strategic planning
- 33 percent of these entrepreneurs cited email as the biggest drag on their productivity
- Administrative tasks took second place as 24 percent cited admin tasks as their greatest distraction
- 73 percent of entrepreneurs would prefer to work on "strategic initiatives that lead to growth, improved profitability, and increase morale" rather than the above admin work
Let’s get this straight. 73 percent of entrepreneurs would rather not do admin work, they spend 68 percent of their time doing just that?
What’s wrong with this picture?
Administrative Services Work is "In" the Business
Administrative tasks are what TAB calls working “in” the business—keeping the ship afloat; while growth and strategy initiatives are consider working “on” the business to chart the course and power the ship further, and faster.
Global employment agency Robert Half International defines an administrator as a role that "provides office support to either an individual or team and is vital for the smooth running of a business."
If admin work is supposed to support you, why are you doing it yourself?
What Should You Be Doing?
Often leaders think that they are saving money by doing admin work. Or they want to maintain control of all aspects of their business. “There’s an old cliché that a business owner proudly “wears all the hats” in the organization,” said Allison Maslan, author of the book “Scale or Fail.” “This idea is absurd and unsustainable.” It’s a reason she says 51 percent of businesses last more than five years.
Here’s what Maslan says CEOs and business spend time on:
- Who–hiring and firing
- What–creating and sharing your big-picture vision
- Where–establishing the future direction of the business
- Why–giving your team purpose as they support your big-picture vision.
What’s missing from this list, she said, is the “how.” The “how” should be delegated.
Virtual Assistants for Administrative Services
“Virtual assistants can help you get more done because they work on the administrative tasks on your to-do list while you work on the high-value tasks that only you can do,” said Brandon Turner, host of the Bigger Pockets podcast. "A virtual assistant can change your life, giving you back your day so you can work on the tasks that will take your business to incredible new places.”
It’s not a magic formula. "If you think you can simply hire any ol' virtual assistant and improve your business, you are naive,” Turner said. "Treat your virtual assistant role like it's the most important role in your company because it just might be."
How to Hire the Right Virtual Assistant
How do you get hiring a virtual assistant right? It is important to know what skills and tasks an assistant will need to have. As the list grows, it can be challenging to find someone experienced with multiple disciplines and tools. Is someone who is a QuickBooks wiz going to be able to make calls and follow up on sales leads? Vetting and validating that someone can do what their resume promises can also be tricky.
Here are some questions to ask when considering a virtual assistant:
- What specific tasks do I expect this person to complete?
- What skills does that mean they need to have?
- How long do I expect these tasks to take?
- What's required on my part to get my new hire up to speed?
- What will a successful assistant look like in this role?
If you have a long list, prioritize which characteristics are most important to you so it's easier to compare options.
Where to Look for a Virtual Assistant
There are multiple ways to find and hire virtual assistants, from Craigslist to online marketplaces to full-service firms that offer both the client and the assistants accountability and support. Some firms offer higher-level skills and support, with experienced assistants that get to know your business and priorities when scheduling meetings and sorting through your emails, as well as serving as CRM administrators and digital marketing pros.
"She called in sick her first day, was late on her second, and by the third she had to be fired," Turner says of his first hire. "Not exactly what I expected after hearing all the wonderful things about working with virtual assistants." Finally, Turner found his "Rockstar” assistant, who has become one of his team's most valuable members.
A good virtual assistant can help you reclaim that 68 percent of your time spent working “in” the business and treading water; and can free you up to work “on” the business to move it forward. For more information about how to find your rockstar virtual assistant, contact us to schedule a discovery call.
About the Author: Bill is Prialto's senior content marketing manager and writes about the future of work and how businesses can be more productive and successful. His work has appeared in the World Economic Forum Agenda blog and CIO magazine.