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Be Your Own Boss ... Without Letting Your Business Become the Boss of You
By Daven Michaels
The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.Copyright © 2013Daven Michaels
All rights reserved.
THE OUTSOURCING PARADIGM
Most people either don't enjoy administrative tasks or don't have time to perform them well. What happens is one of two things: quality work is compromised when they tackle (or avoid) the work, or they pay exorbitant fees by schlepping their administrative projects to major retail office-support stores. In either case, profit is directly affected by expenses or lost customers.
Outsourcing to a competent virtual assistant (VA) will not only save time and money but also help to ensure you don't lose clients because of substandard administrative practices. A VA is an independent professional who remotely provides administrative support services for numerous clients in a multiplicity of industries. In addition to administrative services such as telephone support, e-mail management, organization, and so forth, they also serve clients in creative and technical capacities.
Obviously they don't work for free, so how does a virtual assistant save you money? I love this question. There are a few things you may be taking for granted in operating your business, expenses you really didn't think about. For instance, take office space and office equipment. If you have an administrative person on staff, at the very least you'll need to provide a desk, a chair, a computer, and a printer—and of course a place for them to sit and file their nails. Oh, and don't forget about the water cooler for wasted time spent chatting on breaks, and a phone for personal calls.
Have you priced office space lately? Depending on what part of the country you're in and what side of town, it can be pretty costly. How about computers and computer programs? Software and computer applications cost a small fortune, and once your business begins to grow, you can't afford not to invest in technology for your in-house employee(s). It's starting to come together now, isn't it?
A VA works from home or from another remote location, so other than software or applications specific to your business, you won't need to worry about providing any of these things. Price them out and then calculate the savings. The truth is, if you're outsourcing to a VA, you may not even need an Internet connection!
So, is the idea of outsourcing to a VA becoming more appealing? It gets better when you consider that your business could enjoy the benefits of highly skilled professionals performing tasks—some of which, if you were to do them yourself, would find you struggling to reach the level of mediocrity. Along with VAs who provide basic administrative support, there are those who specialize in specific areas. Skilled writers can produce expert newsletters, create documents, and contribute to other projects. A tech-savvy VA can design your blog or website, perform social media functions, and help with your Internet marketing. Once you find the right person to outsource your tasks to, the synergy between you will affect your business in positive ways. You'll be free to work on your business instead of in it, and your success potential can shoot right through the roof.
As business becomes more global, delegation is more important than ever. In such a mega-competitive environment, our first instinct is to dig in and hunker down, but survival depends on doing just the opposite: reaching out. Yes, the world is a smaller place, and we now have access as never before to brick and mortar businesses as well as online companies in many parts of the world. Our workload has also increased because of this. In order to excel, every entrepreneur must know what, why, when, and how to delegate—and that's exactly what this book is all about.
Today I know a few more things about business than I did when I stood in that empty store in Hollywood, but a couple of things haven't changed. I still want to make my dad proud (although now he's looking on from the Great Beyond), and I'm still confident that the most important business skill is knowing when and where to get help—that is, how to harness the power of delegation.
Daily Tasks versus Income-Generating Activities
Let's do an experiment. Take a blank sheet of paper and draw a line down the middle. In the left-hand column, list your "tasks," such as responding to e- mail. On the right-hand side, list "income-generating activities" (IGAs), those actions that result in immediate income to your business.
Look at your lists. If you're like most people, your tasks column includes activities such as returning phone calls, dealing with e-mail (including deleting spam), planning, research, Internet marketing, accounting, invoicing, paying bills, meetings, sales calls, writing copy, and bookkeeping.
Now, transfer from the tasks to the IGA column those daily tasks that, though simple, you might choose to do because you enjoy them or because you're convinced you can do them better, faster, and cheaper than anyone else.
If You Want Something Done Right—Delegate It!
Look at the items remaining in your tasks column. While these tasks may be necessary, are they really building your business? Here's another question: Could any of these tasks be delegated? Set aside for a moment your belief in the adage "If you want something done right, do it yourself," and put check marks beside those items on your list that could be performed by a competent individual with some training (and initial supervision) by you or a member of your staff. Most likely, you've checked nearly every one of your tasks.
But what about your IGAs? How many of those could be delegated? Some, most likely. Place check marks beside those items. Those items left unchecked comprise what you should be doing in a day. That list probably includes "big- ticket" items such as brainstorming new products or services or developing business relationships.
This is what Steven Covey meant when he distinguished between important versus urgent activities. How many of your income-generating activities are not getting done while you focus on urgent (but not important) daily tasks? How much more productive, profit-generating, and enjoyable would your day be if you focused only on your IGAs?
By the way, your desire to work less doesn't mean you're lazy. If you're wondering how worthiness and hard work became intertwined in the first place, it stems from an old concept called, "the Protestant work ethic," a belief that hard work and frugality were important qualities of the righteous. It was something people strove for, and when they believed they fell short, it affected their self-image and sense of worthiness. Along with various other antiquated concepts, it's been handed down through the generations, and a lot of people are subliminally influenced by it. Human culture rewards self-sacrifice. Suffering is revered. If you're not paying attention, you'll get caught up in this mind- set. It won't move you forward. All it will do is create inner conflict as you try to move away from it.
So, let's get this straight before we go any further: there's absolutely nothing wrong with your desire to work less, your desire to be rich, or your desire to shift responsibility to someone else. When you believe this at a core level, you'll free yourself to benefit fully from outsourcing and ultimately achieving boundless quality of life.
PRODUCTIVITY VERSUS BUSYNESS
A common misconception of those in the rat race is that when they're busy, they're being productive. Not true. Unless you're paying close attention to what you're doing, busyness can keep you from being productive. It all de
Excerpted from Outsource Smart by Daven Michaels. Copyright © 2013 by Daven Michaels. Excerpted by permission of The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc..
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