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Startup leaders wear lots of hats in the early stages. Sometimes, those extra hats end up taking away from their ability to do their actual jobs. That was Katie Gorsky’s story before she began working with a virtual assistant from Delegated. Katie is the COO of Somatic Training Network, an online platform that brings nervous system training to the world through on-demand and live classes.
The organization has a global team with everyone in growth mode right now. Katie had one virtual assistant already contracted but found herself struggling to focus her attention on big picture items. She knew that this was taking a toll on her work and company performance as a whole.
“The number one thing when building any business is knowing where your unique abilities are and focusing on them because that is how you can actually grow,” she says. “If you are the one doing all the little tasks, then you are not going to grow. End of story.” Instead of moving these tasks to someone else, Katie had to cover them, which took her away from the job she was hired to do, the job that utilized her unique abilities as an operations leader.
The number one thing when building any business is knowing where your unique abilities are and focusing on them because that is how you can actually grow. If you are the one doing all the little tasks, then you are not going to grow. End of story.
Anxiety piled up as she replied to customer support tickets and managed her calendar. It felt like her phone was constantly going off and she couldn’t get a break. She knew she needed help and began looking for an additional VA to bring on to the team. Though she struggled to find the right fit in the beginning, she eventually found what she needed by partnering with Delegated.
Katie began her search on Upwork, a site where companies hire freelance employees to do part-time, contract work. In the past, Katie says the company had “some awesome home runs on Upwork,” but when it came to virtual assistants, they mostly just struck out. A big part of the issue came down to what Katie calls the “flake factor.” She would hire a new employee, train them, and get them onboarded only to have them disappear shortly after. She would never hear anything from them again.
The process frustrated Katie. Becoming a part-time virtual assistant herself was not going to help her do her job better. “It was not an effective use of my time or energy, and then it just reinforced that I should do everything myself, which obviously is not a good plan.”
The struggle with Upwork pushed Katie to look elsewhere, which is how she discovered Delegated and hired her current VA, Dwana Key. Delegated offered a more professional alternative. She appreciated that the company stakes its reputation on client/VA pairings. They had to find someone who would work well with Katie. And that someone who couldn’t bail after a short period of time.
It didn’t take long for Katie to realize she found her match with Dwana. The two describe their initial kickoff call as a blind date. Katie felt nervous going into the meeting. She didn’t know what to expect since she usually went through a more traditional interview process where she selected the candidate and typically had some sort of connection with them. But her nerves soon lifted when the call began:
“It was like within the first two minutes,” she says. “We really just hit it off. I feel like we communicated pretty well… It was like work love at first sight.” Dwana agrees: “It really was like a blind date, but one when you had a lot of relief afterward,” she says. “We pretty much clicked right away.”
It was like within the first two minutes. We really just hit it off. I feel like we communicated pretty well… It was like work love at first sight.
It really was like a blind date, but one when you had a lot of relief afterward. We pretty much clicked right away.
What started strong grew stronger over time. They had very few bumps in the beginning, aside from the normal challenges of adapting to a new environment and new technology. Dwana had to educate herself on systems she had little or no experience with. “I’m all for trying to learn new platforms,” she says, noting that Delegated supports this ongoing education by providing their VAs access to an online training portal.
Katie appreciates Dwana’s independence and professionalism. She didn’t have to constantly train her or repeat herself like she’d had to with VAs she hired in the past. Their first call made it clear that Dwana “had enough baseline experience in many of the systems that we’re working with that it was going to be a short on-ramp.” Her ability to learn fast has helped the company utilize her in various roles and departments, even handling customer support items that Katie once handled on her own.
“It’s just been a wonderful experience to have that and just keep building and building on what she can take off of my desk. And now I don’t have to think twice about handing it off.” That level of trust has helped free Katie’s time while also accomplishing a key part of their business.
It’s just been a wonderful experience to have that and just keep building and building on what she can take off of my desk. And now I don’t have to think twice about handing it off.
“One of our core goals is to make sure that all of our customers and potential customers are heard and responded to in a very short order, which meant I was doing that on my phone, which meant I was doing it all of the time,” explains Katie. After finding Dwana, Katie had the ability to move that off of her own plate. “That’s a huge trust issue for me–to make sure that those fragile relationships are taken such good care of, and to know that she’s got a handle on that just eases my anxiety so much.”
Katie recognizes that this anxiety release has improved her work-life balance. Since bringing on Dwana, she has started implementing a weekly practice she calls “iPad only days,” where she forces herself to unplug from the little tasks, hand them to Dwana, and focus on more important matters. “It’s a good exercise for me as well as probably for a lot of other people who are compulsive do-it-yourself people who may not be great at delegating,” she explains. Dwana’s reliability has made it easy for her to trust her with the items she hands off.
That kind of partnership is at the heart of what Delegated does. If Katie and Dwana’s kickoff call was the blind date, Delegated functioned as the matchmaker. Katie appreciated the thoroughness of their pre-interview process, which made the initial call much easier to handle.
“They definitely have their systems down,” she says. “They asked the right questions to know who would be a good fit.” She remembers having one meeting and filling out a form about working styles and what tasks needed to come off her plate. “It was a very efficient system that didn’t seem like it was really lengthy and overwhelming. It was very useful and on point.”
These systems exist to make things as seamless as possible for both the VA and the client. This way, the team can start smoothly and clients can realize positive results as soon as possible. For Katie and the rest of the Somatic lab team, that means more opportunities to focus on growth and excel at the work they were hired to do.