I get it. Your startup is your baby and you’re used to doing everything on your own.
As your team grows, you naturally continue to feel like you need to have your hand in everything, from making UX decisions to paying electricity bills. But this is where the long line of startup delegation mistakes begins.
While it may feel natural for an entrepreneur, being a control freak is one of the worst things you can do for your product and your team.
Let’s be frank — delegating tasks can be scary, especially when you’re new at it. If you are the one in the position to do the delegating, then you’re the one who will bear the responsibility if things go wrong. If you’re a manager in a large company and a subordinate fails at an important task you delegated, upper management will demand an explanation from you. If you’re the business owner, the loss and liability of the subordinate’s mistakes will ultimately be yours.
Those concerns freeze many potential leaders. They don’t trust anyone else to do the task as well as they can and doubt their own ability to teach someone how to do it. This is a career and business dead end. There’s a limit to how much one person, no matter how energetic and productive, can get done.
Online Tools You Can Use to Delegate Tasks
- Fancy Hands connects you with US-based virtual assistants who can help you complete personal or business tasks, from booking travel to paying bills. Their lowest plan is $29.99, and you can get five requests per month (typically up to 20 minutes of work per request). They also have options if you need a dedicated virtual assistant.
- Magic offers personal assistants for 50 cents per minute and business assistants for 59 cents per minute. Send a message through their app, and Magic will assign someone from their team of assistants to complete your request.
- Zirtual has a team of US-based assistants that can complete personal and business tasks such as email management, social media scheduling, and vacation research. Plans start at $449/month for 12 hours of task work.
- Design Pickle might be a good fit for you if you’re looking to outsource graphic design tasks. This website will pair you with a dedicated graphic designer to do the skilled work for you. Plans start at $399/month for unlimited requests and unlimited revisions
Tasks to Consider Delegating to a VA
To decide which tasks to delegate, consider your own strengths and weaknesses, what takes up most of your time, and what you dislike doing. There are several tasks that most small business owners will want to delegate to a VA.
Keeping your schedule in order may sound simple, but you’ll keep gaining more responsibilities as your business grows. Moving items around on your calendar and rescheduling appointments — all while making sure you never miss a deadline — can pose a challenge. A virtual assistant can take care of your calendar for you, even sending you notifications before a meeting or when you need to complete an important to-do.
Email has a way of taking up all our time — and yet we still manage to forget to respond to urgent messages. Your virtual assistant can sort your inbox for you: deleting spam, notifying you of messages you need to see immediately, and storing other messages that can wait until later. Your VA can even respond to some of the emails for you.
It’s common for founders of new businesses to conduct a great deal of research. You may need to find out what your competitors are doing and other key information about the market, learn more about potential clients and investors, and search for new opportunities.
If you’ve ever done any online research, you’ll know how easily the hours slip away — particularly if you’re unsure where to look or you keep getting sidetracked. A virtual assistant who’s experienced at research will know where to go to find the information you need and will focus just on the task at hand.
Other Admin Tasks
Other admin work you may consider outsourcing to a VA include:
- Data entry
- Travel arrangements
- Making online purchases
- Shipping packages
- Sending handwritten notes
- Managing your CRM
An advantage of outsourcing these tasks is that you can find a general virtual assistant who charges a low rate. This means you’ll free up your schedule by eliminating some of your dullest tasks for only a small investment. If a task is a waste of your time, it makes no sense not to delegate it.
Data can be hugely useful for a startup — but if you know how to use it. From website and social media analytics to raw data like information on business cards, a VA can turn data into a meaningful report or insights.
Whether you have a team of virtual workers or you’re collaborating with another business, you need someone to manage the project. When there are many moving parts, you may need to be constantly monitoring progress, communicating with team members, setting deadlines for each new task, and checking everyone is meeting their objectives. It could be better to delegate all this to a virtual assistant with experience in project management than to try and handle it yourself.
All the numbers entrepreneurs need to deal with are enough to give anyone a headache. A virtual assistant can keep your accounts up to date. Tasks to delegate could include invoicing, managing expenses, payroll, and other bookkeeping tasks.
To gain greater awareness and stay connected with customers, you need to be active on social media. The problem is that creating content, responding to comments, and strategizing all takes up a lot of time. You can benefit from social media without taking time away from other work by delegating some (or even all) of your social media-related tasks to a virtual assistant.
A simple exercise so you can start delegating today
- Step 1: Write down 10 things you need to get done that you don’t want to do or shouldn’t be doing yourself.
- Step 2: Think of the six levels of delegation and notice that as you move through the levels, you move from outsourcing (“do as I say”) down to true delegation (which is “just get it done”). Ultimately, you want to get to level six, “just get it done.”
- Step 3: Take those 10 things and see which of the six levels they might fall under, and that will clue you in to where your issues are and which providers you may need to hire to get these things done.