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A Smarter Way to Work: Let the VA Do It

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For the past five years, I’ve been experimenting with using virtual assistants (or VAs) for a wide range of things I want to delegate but don’t have people immediately around me to delegate to. Being a firm believer that I should stay focused on the tasks I do well on and delegate the rest, but also not having a huge organization around me, I find virtual assistants provide a lot of leverage.

I’ve had some really good ones, and some really terrible ones where I’ve wasted a bit of money.

But the really good ones have provided an incredible amount of work. Take this newsletter, for example. I have three VAs who work on executing this, making sure it gets in your inbox as it should. My team has clearly defined roles and they work together to make it happen. I’m moving into my third year of producing this newsletter, and I’ll admit it took a good year to figure it out.

My budget this year is $32,000 for VAs, and they do everything from distributing this newsletter to creating reports for clients. Here is a sampling of last weeks VA tasks:

  • Find two tickets to Hamilton in New York for Leslie and me on Wednesday night.
  • Assemble 108 SouthEnd and Uptown Charlotte land comps from a mess of my .pdf and .xls files, search online public records for missing tax IDs, populate the information into one Excel document that is color coded indicating product types, and add hyperlinks to GoogleEarth. This took the VA 2.43 hours and was turned around in less than 24 hours over a weekend.
  • Take my scan of 19 business cards that I collected at last week’s SIOR conference, add them to my CRM, tag them and follow-up with an email stating it was a pleasure to meet them and ask if they would like to receive a newsletter with handy tips and insights.

I’ve loved turning to VAs for these types of tasks because it lets me stay focused on the things the good Lord put me on this planet to do in my quest for global domination. I’ve also discovered a strategic byproduct of using virtual assistance: I stopped procrastinating on my larger, complex projects.

Procrastination occurs when you are working on something you aren’t fully committed to. Those who know me, know that I have many novel ideas, most of which deserve to vetted before committing my resources. I’ve learned that the most incredible byproduct of working with VAs is that when you sit down and start, just the act of delegating something to someone gives you clarity for what needs to be done or not done. Magic happens when you start to think through the steps needed in the delegation process and the result is often clarity on the desired outcome.

Sometimes simply getting someone to do an hour of research on a subject will help you flesh out whether it’s an idea you want to be committed to or not. I use a site, askwonder.com, which for less than $40 you get a ton of information that can get you rolling. Only one out of every 10 times do I actually employ the research they find. Often it helps me decide it’s not something I want to pursue. There’s value in that knowledge.

As for the bad experiences, I’ve found they often happen because I didn’t delegate properly or give the right instructions, or I didn’t find the right person for the task.

Interested? Here are some of my favorite resources to get you started:

  • GetLeverage.com
    Run by Ari Meisel, Lessdoing.com provides a platform for VAs whom he’s trained. He’s a really cool cat. I went to a workshop of his in New York and spent three days with him. I now have a team of eight VAs who all know me, and I know their strengths and weaknesses.
  • Askwonder.com
    This site provides a team of researchers who can answer your questions and provide extensive research within 24 hours.
  • 99designs.com
    This is the world’s largest online graphic designer marketplace. Find talented freelance graphic designers from around the globe who can help on projects.
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