We entrepreneurs are a special bunch.
We’re known for our passion, our vision, our grit and our can-do spirit. Yet those very same qualities that propel us and our organizations forward can also put a lid on our leadership and push our enterprises backward. Too many CEOs and leaders hold tight to their early days as task-oriented solo acts, without realizing that they are now the conductor for an orchestra.
We need help. And that’s why I believe that a virtual assistant is one of the fastest tickets to growth in 2017 and beyond. These capable, professional administrative specialists give us the discipline, structure and support to steady the entrepreneurial risk of randomness. After all, so many of us love having our hands in 87 different things at one time; we enjoy keeping those fun projects for ourselves or having our say about every little thing.
But as a founder, leader or member of the C-suite, we leaders must figure out the two or three things we should focus on most, and then delegate the rest. There are high-payoff activities that only we can do, and these things advance our business, like making strategic partner connections, weighing in on legal issues or moving on financial decisions. Then there are lower-payoff activities that, honestly, any other trained professional can pull off.
This is why a virtual executive assistant is a must-have differentiator for businesses and companies bent on competing where it counts.
Fostering communication as a conduit for growth
How many times has your email inbox or voicemail taken on a life of its own? Are employees in your ear about something they emailed you weeks ago? Do you recognize the tone set and potential negative business outcomes sparked by lulls in giving feedback, responding to messages or replying to emails?
Virtual assistants can serve as air traffic controllers over your outreach and correspondence. They can ensure that you are accountable for communicating transparently, professionally and timely. They run interference, fill in blanks, reduce ambiguity and keep the cycle of productivity and efficiency more continuous. This builds employee engagement, fuels operational performance and keeps actionable strategies alive.
Related: When Your Virtual Assistant Goes MIA
This is because a capable, entrusted virtual assistant serves as the CEO’s representative. And this has the incredible benefit of crystallizing organizational growth for business. For example, if an internal business development team is awaiting the blessing of the company president before proceeding with a sales proposal, then a delay could postpone or entirely put the brakes on the opportunity.
But, when a virtual assistant is empowered to block and tackle on your behalf -- whether internally or externally -- people know that they can count on you if you’re not around. And, better yet, the synergy will be so seamless that they won’t even know you’re away or otherwise encumbered at all.
Inspiring innovation and big-picture thinking
It can be hard not to think in a vacuum when consumed by a litany of lower-value tasks and to-do items. Leaders who find themselves stuck in the day-to-day details of running a business are essentially lost in the weeds of rigmarole. This "overgrowth" clouds their vision and blocks their view. And this can be detrimental to the long-term success of the organizations they lead.
Delegation can be a challenging nut to crack for leaders, but it’s a competency they must learn, even if it means breaking long-lasting habits about how work gets done. One reason leaders struggle to let certain action items out of their purview is not about power, but rather the feeling of completion.
That’s why some of us still do things like book travel or order stationery on our own. Leaders are big on wins, and checking off a basic item offers that feeling of closure that sustains us for the day. But, we know this is the lowest-hanging fruit in our lives; in the near term, most of what leaders really think about and work for doesn’t come to fruition until six to nine months later. So if we devote 30 minutes or an hour to administrative tasks each day, we are ourselves removing deposits from the big picture and main objective.
This is where virtual assistants can really move the needle. They help stubborn executives and ultra-autonomous company heads build in bandwidth so they can truly focus. Their expertise in organization, planning and communications enables them to shoulder leaders’ routine incidentals and daily must-dos, from producing standard reports to finessing operational functions.
Over time, this sustains the momentum that gives decision-makers the confidence and surrender they require to be optimally effective -- to think, plan and execute. Big-picture and long-range thinking are like manna to the entrepreneurial mind. And I’ve never met a leader who truly preferred parsing spreadsheet data to envisioning the next disruptive idea for their industry.
Easing professional -- and personal -- life
A virtual assistant also delivers value by freeing up life away from work. A VA can be just as indispensable as your smartphone when it comes to optimizing tools, tactics and tips that create windows of opportunity, expansion and replenishment in your personal sphere.
Think of how much actual time we spend, in addition to the psychic and mental load we carry, to manage routine, incidental tasks. For leaders, a day’s to-do list can include proofing sales proposals and signing off on the quarterly strategy to coordinating how they’ll pick up shirts at the cleaners before they close and drop off thirst quenchers for their kid’s ball practice in time.
Some mistakenly believe that virtual assistants only navigate that which pertains to work and the office, but that’s not true. Flexible, nimble and agile, they can quarterback personal demands, with professionalism. These can range from personal shopping and family arrangements to recreational travel and household repairs. Altogether, these efforts add more than work-life balance, but rather work-life enrichment.
Go next level in 2017 with a virtual assistant
If you try to do the math about the real value a virtual assistant can bring to you and your business in 2017, coming up with the right equation could be tough. While many of their deliverables are trackable and measurable, the results of their input are often amazing and priceless. Their value exceeds any appraisal or estimate that leaders like us are apt to try to quantify.
One of my company’s strategic partners, Michael Hyatt, is a super-star entrepreneur and best-selling author. Would you believe that a virtual assistant is one of the handiest resources in his back pocket? See what he had to say in “7 Reasons You Should Hire a Virtual Assistant.” In a nutshell, he readily proclaims, “I couldn’t survive without mine.”
Can you put to chance making the most of this year? Are you willing to risk looking back on 2017 and wishing that you’d had more help, greater support or more consistent communication?
I caution leaders not to let too much of this year go by before they begin looking in the rearview and wishing, hoping or thinking things could have been different . . . if only they’d engaged a virtual assistant.
Sure, you can make it without one, eke out another 365 days of survival and subsistence, and feign victory in the face of the money you saved (with increased stress, lost opportunities, ongoing inconvenience and compromised performance) as a result.But we’re entrepreneurs. For us, investing dollars and common sense, swallowing some pride and no longer going it alone are worth the big dreams that keep us up at night.