Dedicating the time to grow a small business is the often the greatest of challenges. As a small business owner you can easily find yourself wearing so many hats and managing all aspects of operations, often to the detriment of the income generating aspects.
So how do you find time where it doesn’t seemingly exist?
Simon Cyrus, of Locum Blueprint, is a great example of an entrepreneurial individual looking at growth opportunities within his area of expertise but struggling to find the time to dedicate to the growth he wanted.
As a qualified pharmacist, who has worked in the industry for over 10 years, he locums (freelances) for several different contractors. But on top of this regular work he wanted to launch his own service helping locum pharmacists source work as well as raising awareness of training opportunities and how to diversify their skill base. Simon also works with a pharmaceutical wholesaler as a business development consultant and needed help developing and growing this side of his work.
Employing someone directly comes with a host of extra responsibilities and employing people directly does not necessarily allow you to scale at your own speed. A full-time employee is also a huge investment of time, up front. You may not need a full-timer or half-time employee to start and the growth of your business may require a more subtle scaling of human resources in the early stages.
The answer to Simon’s “growth dilemma” was to look to the services of a virtual assistant. Below Simon answers a few questions on how he has used a VA to grow his business and enable him to focus on more than one front as well as giving some tips on getting the most from this kind of flexible outsourcing solution.
1. What is the toughest aspect of running a small business?
I find the repetitive but important tasks can be very time consuming.
2. Do you employ anyone directly at the moment?
No direct employees for the moment. I have clients and associates that I deal with on a day-to-day basis.
3. So what made you look for a virtual assistant?
I needed to free a portion of time so that I could work on income generating or growth tasks. Since working with my VA I have been able to launch my website and I utilise my VA to search and list prospects for the wholesale business.
4. What sort of tasks do you delegate to your virtual assistant?
My VA does a wide range of tasks for me; from entering expenses and invoices using my accounting tool to researching online tools for my websites, producing documents and prospecting for wholesale clients.
5. Have these types of tasks changed over the course of time?
Yes, at first I was apprehensive; however trust was built and my VA is very smart so I am confident I can train her to do many more tasks as I continue to expand my businesses.
6. What are some of the core qualities you would look for in a VA?
• Great communication skills
• The flexibility to do multiple tasks
• The flexibility to communicate on different platforms
• Intuitive with a pleasant personality
7. Have you found it easy to delegate work to your VA?
Yes, I have, but communicating is the most important aspect of this to ensure everything is clear.
8. So how do you communicate with your VA?
I communicate using a few different channels for best results; email, Asana (task management platform), WhatsApp and on the phone.
9. Time is key, so do you optimise the explanation of a task?
I tend to message via WhatsApp, trying to be as clear as possible. I also send links, images and examples of what I expect. I also request confirmation that it is all understandable.