When I hired my first virtual assistant, I was nervous.
I didn’t know if I would consistently make enough money to keep her around, and I didn’t know how to delegate things to her. I didn’t have a clear vision for my business or the ability to make promises about the future, either.
I made a lot of mistakes in the early months of us working together. I can’t look back and say “my revenue increased by X% because she was here” or “I became a CEO within six months because I had a VA.”
But I can say one thing for sure – it was worth it.
I learned a ton, I expanded my vision, I started saying ‘we’ when talking about A Squared, and I began the long journey toward becoming a leader.
I’ve never gone back to living without a team.
I’ve seen the power of bringing people into my business, I’ve been a virtual assistant myself, and my team and I have hired many VAs for our clients. I believe in the power of this kind of support. So I love that Phase Three on the journey to entrepreneurial freedom is all about this – lightening the load.
Once you’ve walked through Phase One and Two – you’ve found solid ground and begun to take clear and focused action in your business – a great next step is to start removing things from your own plate. If you want to own a business that can grow beyond you, that can continue to thrive while you’re away, or that you could even sell in the future, you need a team.
When our clients start to tentatively step into Phase Three, we often share two tips to help them prepare for this kind of transition:
Strategy One: Discover the Cost of Your Own Time
Most of us start our businesses with the notion that our own time is free. When we should start delegating, we can end up with a common objection in our minds: “why pay someone else to do this when I could do it myself for free?” Here’s the thing – your time has a very real monetary cost.
If you got a job today, what do you think your salary would be? I want you to take that number, add 25% to it to adjust for benefits and lower taxes, and then divide it by 2080 (this is what will give you an hourly rate).
So, a $60,000 job becomes about $36 an hour.
Even if you never write yourself a single check from your business, that’s how much you’re paying for your own time. It’s your opportunity cost – money you’re not making because you’re doing this instead.
If you’re doing anything you wouldn’t pay someone else $36 per hour to do, then you’re overpaying for that task.
This exercise isn’t meant to make you feel badly about your work – it’s just meant to reframe the question. It’s not “why pay you when I could do it for free?” Now it’s “Is it worth paying you $25 for something that’s costing me $36 to do?”
Strategy Two: Think Long-Term
A lot of people try to hire a VA, find out in a month or two that the person can’t magically clear their plates, and give up.
Maybe they struggled to delegate well, or the VA wasn’t very proactive, or communication wasn’t up to snuff. For some reason, the relationship doesn’t work out, and the entrepreneur swears off hiring forever. “It’s easier to do it myself – it took longer to try to give it to them” is a common experience.
I completely understand. For a variety of reasons, I’ve had hires who didn’t work out. I’ve made mistakes, and I’ve had projects take longer or fall short because I delegated them. But every month, I got a little better. I learned something. I implemented a system that helped. I communicated more clearly. I built confidence.
Meanwhile, my team mastered new elements of their work. They stuck with me, built their own relationships with our clients, and began to lead.
Now, three and a half years after I hired my first team member, I’m about to take a two-month maternity leave. Our group program will keep going at full speed. My team will keep marketing and building relationships. The business will continue to make money. And I am deeply grateful.
There’s extra responsibility, sure. But having a team has made me a better person and entrepreneur. It’s built stability into my business, and it has lightened my load significantly. I also can’t quantify how amazing it is to not be on this journey alone.
It took a while for me, and it might take a while for you, too. But that doesn’t mean you should quit.
If you’re considering taking on the challenge of Phase 3 and hiring someone to support you in your business, I’d love to hear from you…what are your questions? What do you need to take the next step forward?