As a founder, delegation wasn’t something that came naturally to me. Despite the fact I was constantly busy, the thought of handing over tasks was terrifying, particularly when I was the only one who knew how to do them. As Pixc grew, I quickly figured out I had no choice, I had to build a team. Living in a small town with less than 10,000 people made it difficult to find people with a specific set of skills. Truth be told, it was almost impossible.

I decided to turn to online freelance marketplaces, and after lots of trial and error, I finally found Upwork. My biggest challenge was trying to find reliable and trustworthy people to do the tasks I had assigned, without having to keep an eye on them. I’ve since hired over 300 people on Upwork, for a wide variety of tasks. I get asked the same questions when I tell people I run a business using virtual assistants across 9 countries, ‘How do I know when it’s time to hire a virtual assistant, and what tasks should I be delegating?’

I’m going to share some of the lessons I’ve learned along the way, and help show you how you can hire and train virtual assistants for your eCommerce store.

Tasks You Can Outsource
It’s important to know what tasks you should outsource before you start building your team. Look for manual, time-consuming work that doesn’t deliver any measurable return on investment. Pinpoint tasks that don’t require your constant supervision, repeated work necessary to running a business but don’t result in growth. Fundamentally, if you want to scale your eCommerce business, you need to focus on automating as many daily administrative tasks as possible.

Most of these tasks you’ve likely done yourself, and know like the back of your hand. Rather than adopting the classic ‘it’s easier for me to do it’ approach, create a process document including a step by step guide, visuals and screen recording where necessary. Once you create process documents for your list of administrative tasks, you’ll get a clearer picture of what skills or experience you’re looking for in a virtual assistant. This will make the hiring process much more efficient.

Here are some daily tasks you should consider delegating:

Customer service
Order processing
Returns and exchanges
Inventory management
Site maintenance
Label management and package tracking
PPC ads management
Invoice management
Social media management
Content creation and keyword research
Personal tasks, such as travel arrangement
Drafting and scheduling newsletters
Being able to outsource routine tasks was a huge stress reliever for me, it gave much more time and energy to focus on growing my business. Rather than getting buried in emails, invoices and never ending To Do lists, I was finally able to tap into my creativity and start planning months ahead. After a while, I felt comfortable enough to go away for the weekend and spend quality time with the people I love. * link to medium post on taking breaks* Just having a couple of days to switch off and recharge my batteries made me much more efficient.

Especially during the busiest times of the year, it’s essential that you’re in the zone. And you can’t do that when you’re trying to juggle everything, eventually you’re going to drop the ball. Outsourcing to a virtual assistant is a great way to avoid inevitable mistakes. If you’re concerned about security, most apps and platforms allow you to set permission levels giving your VA access to certain tasks, without having access to all your data. As you start to build trust, you can delegate more complex tasks to your VA. Ultimately, the less you have on your plate, the more effective you will be in the tasks you’re focused on.

Post a Job
I’ve found Upwork to be one of the best places to find and manage VAs. Their intuitive platform is super easy to use, allowing you to quickly post a job, and manages the entire interview and hiring process from start to finish. Once you’ve chosen a candidate, you can manage payments and keep an eye on new hires using Upwork’s Time Tracker tool that takes screenshots of their work every 10–15 minutes. Other great platforms for finding remote workers are Zirtual, for US-based highly experienced executive assistants, and Fancy Hands, great for hiring VAs for one-off tasks.You can track time and progress using a platform like Toggl.

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