What Should I Delegate?
Once you have your time management skills sorted, you’re ready to move to the next step: delegating those tasks you no longer need to do yourself.
Let’s start with a definition of delegation. Dictionary.com explains delegating this way:
to commit (powers, functions, etc.) to another as agent or deputy.
In other words, delegation is the act of appointing someone else to assume the agency over an activity. In the context of civics, delegating means sending a representative to vote in your interests. In the context of business, it’s remarkably similar: you’re allowing someone to take over something you previously handled.
This Article is Part of Our Resource Guide to Productivity & Virtual Assistants:
- Time Management Skills
- What Should I Delegate (you are here)
- Do I Need a Virtual Assistant
- Virtual Assistant Cost Calculator
- Getting Started with Your Virtual Assistant
What Are Some Ways to Determine What I Should Delegate?
If you’re already convinced that delegation is a great way to free up your time and grow your business, the question is simple: what do you delegate? Here are some tips that should help:
- Delegate to a virtual assistant, according to the VA’s skills. Working with Delegated, you’ll be able to peruse the skills and experience of a virtual assistant. That’s important. You hired them for a reason, after all: if they’re great with bookkeeping, assign them to your bookkeeping software and have them handle your monthly expense reports.
- Give yourself a daily to-do list. Try to sort this to-do list, starting with the most important tasks first. Then give yourself a time limit. Try delegating anything that remains incomplete to a VA and see how well they perform.
- Get in sync. Use a tool like TripIt to sync your travel arrangements with a VA. This will help you delegate your booking while remaining fully in the loop. You can also add them as a user to your calendar software and scheduling software to delegate those activities as soon as possible.
What Are the Signs of Effective Delegation, and What’s My Target Outcome?
How do you know if it’s working correctly? For starters, you’ll see results. A VA who takes on a new responsibility and delivers work with minimal fuss is showing that they can handle the additional responsibility. But let’s look at some other signs of effective delegation:
- Better results from assisted activities. Are you a freelancer who hired a virtual assistant for help with writing an article? If the quality of your articles goes up because of their research, that’s a sign you’re delegating effectively.
- More free time. Let’s say you got used to working past 5:00 p.m. every day to keep up with expenses, bookkeeping, accounting, and basic data entry. When you outsource that--even with as little as an hour or two per day--you should notice that your time is more flexible. If you get to 4:30 p.m. and notice that you don’t have anything to do, it’s a sign of success, not laziness.
- Increased ROI. Some people outsource marketing efforts like client outreach and managing the sales funnel. Or they might outsource their email campaigns, If you track your ROI from these investments, watch what happens when you delegate that work to a VA. Do you get more conversions from email? More leads in the pipeline? If so, it’s hard to justify not delegating.
What Are My Options to Delegate?
There are multiple styles of delegation available to you as well. Here are some of the ways you can start your own delegation strategy:
- Continuing your business as-is. Need to get VAs running your business so you’re more “hands-off”? You can outsource some of the tasks you already do so that you’re no longer a cog in your own machine.
- Introducing a VA to your team. Already have a marketing team handling CRM duties? An experienced VA can step in and assist or even manage this team with ease.
- Growing. Maybe you don’t have enough time to deal with customers are you build your business, but you notice your inbox filling up. Use a VA to step in and take on these tasks and expand the capacity of your business.
That leaves just one question: what are the specific activities you can delegate?
Why Hire a Virtual Assistant?
If you’ve read our Why Hire a Virtual Assistant article, you know some of the most relevant reasons to delegate: saving time and money, growing your business, and reducing the amount of stress in your life.
But these are just three of the key reasons. You may find that your business has specific needs to address. Whether that means expanding your business without increasing office expenses or making new investments in the growth of one particular area of your business (such as social media or marketing), a virtual assistant expands your capacity for more. More growth, more hours in the day, and more eyes on the ball.
What Should I Delegate to a VA?
What’s it like to have a virtual assistant? There’s no single answer. For someone in marketing and social media, it can mean one thing. To someone who requires an executive assistant for general office and scheduling work, it means something different. That’s why it’s so important to get to the heart of this central point: what should you delegate to a VA, and why?
In this resource, we’ll look at these precise questions with specific answers. We’ll dig deep into what your specific needs are, what a virtual assistant can provide, and ultimately formulate a list of the most realistic requests you can make from a VA.
Specific Tasks You Can Delegate to Virtual Assistant
It’s great to talk about what a virtual assistant can do, but let’s break it down into specifics. Here are some of the most common tasks people assign to virtual assistants:
- Office management. Ordering new supplies, keeping track of what’s going on in the office, and more. A virtual assistant can handle much of the daily work of office management even if they’re not physically present.
- Project management. Let’s say you have a team of remote workers who stay connected via an app like Slack. A virtual assistant with experience in this regard can not only keep your team up to date, but ensure that they follow up with what’s going on so you’re never out of the loop yourself.
- Travel arrangements. Need to book airfare and lodging before an important business conference? Tell your virtual assistant to handle the details while you get back to work. You’ll find yourself with reservations and a roundtrip flight booked without having to work out the particulars yourself.
- Data entry. Handling routine tasks that require inputting data, such as populating contact management software, is highly redundant for many business owners. But for a virtual assistant, it’s all in a day’s work.
- Scheduling. It’s something any business owner, entrepreneur, or C-level executive has to deal with: a busy schedule. Outsourcing these tasks to a VA is an important way to cut yourself out of the machine so you’re free to focus on important work. But you can also have your VA manage your schedule so that you’re never overwhelmed.
- Transcription. Let’s say you have a phone recording that has lots of information you need in a Word document. If you don’t have anyone to help, it can seem to take eons to get it all down into word processing software. Outsource the task to a VA, however, and you’ll have it ready in no time.
- Meeting minutes. By inviting your VA to a meeting virtually—where they can hear every detail of what goes on—you can have properly-done meeting minutes available to anyone who requests them after not being able to attend.
- Phone calls. Taking phone calls is a great way to separate your phone system from yourself, giving you an added layer that protects you from distractions. That is—as long as you outsource those phone calls to a virtual assistant. You can also have your virtual assistant place phone calls on your behalf.
- Making appointments. Need to make an important appointment, but not interrupt the flow of your workday? Have a virtual assistant call ahead to find the best times for you, schedule the appointment, and fit it into your work calendar. Since they may already be managing your calendar, this can be the smoothest way of ensuring that your workweek doesn’t get too hectic.
- Email inbox management. Want to achieve “inbox zero”? It’s hard when you have an inbox full of important requests from clients, customers, and business partners. VAs can help you sort through this mess and inform you what needs to be followed up upon and what can be deleted. You can also have a VA help you with data entry so that you don’t lose vital information that’s otherwise solely stored in your inbox.
- Research. Need to find out which office supplies are the most affordable? Need to find out which is the best place to take a vacation when you schedule yours? Need to find out…anything? Hand over researching duties to your VA and let them know that you want them to present you with their top findings. You’ll still have the power of choice—but you won’t have to spend so much time making that choice happen.
Taxes and Bookkeeping
- Bookkeeping. Your bookkeeping may not be your favorite task every day, but it’s an essential aspect when it comes to doing business the right way. Outsourcing it to a virtual assistant is a great way to delegate the work so you’re free to focus on your company’s work.
- Managing expenses. Are you sick of looking at expenses? Logging them? Approving them? Rejecting expense requests? Get a virtual assistant to do it by telling them what you need and training them to manage expenses the way you’ve done it.
- Tax issues. Need someone to stay on top of issues like paying self-employment taxes, or filing quarterly taxes? Your virtual assistant—especially one with a background in accounting—can do a lot to make sure that you stay on top of your tax bills.
- Handling follow-ups. Did you just have a major sales meeting and you want to make sure that you stay on top of that lead by reaching out later? You can have a virtual assistant automatically schedule reminders for you to follow up. You can also have them handle the follow up, either by phone or email.
Marketing, Customers, and Digital
- Social media management. Sick of responding to individual clients and customers on social media? Not sure how to come up with interesting posts to generate interest? A VA with experience in social media management should be able to take on these duties, giving you the freedom to get off the phone and back to work.
- Scheduling social media posts. Your social media deserves a calendar in and of itself. If you’ve been handling it before, you know just how much time it can take. You handle hashtag research. Thinking up content. Designing posts. Coming up with original thoughts and ideas. If you’re being honest, it’s a bit much. But it’s not too much for a VA who is glad to take on this task as part of their regular duties.
- Customer relationship management. One of the most important tasks you have in a business is to ensure that your clients/customers are happy. That means not only reaching out to them, but being available when they come calling. If you already have CRM software that helps you understand the specific issues of each client—as well as how to follow up with them—it’s important that you make sure to hire a VA who’s experienced with this software.
- Customer support. Those customers who inevitably reach out to you via social media deserve to have their voices heard. The problem? You shouldn’t always have to be there to answer. A VA can step into this funnel and respond to customer support requests via social media, directing customers to the appropriate forms or even helping them with their issues.
- Content management and generation. Let’s say that you have an active blog at your site, but you’re not always able to stay on top of it. You can outsource your content management to a VA, having them schedule the content calendar. They can coordinate with freelance writers or, in some cases, handle the content themselves. They can also serve as a blog editor so that your content keeps churning out even when you’re not focused on it.
- Keyword research. Keyword research is a topic that deserves its own skillset, experience, and even its own post. But there are VAs who understand that, and can deliver on great keyword research to help you with your marketing efforts.
- SEO. If you don’t want to spend time optimizing your site, you can always outsource those tasks to a virtual assistant with a background in SEO. They’ll be able to conduct tasks like optimizing your descriptions, your headers, or even run your old content through Clearscope and update it to better reflect your goals.
- Blog and community updates. If you have a website that has an active community of commenters on its blog—which may extend to your social media profiles as well—then it helps to keep your toes in the water. A VA can look through these comments and moderate them easily. They can also reply on behalf of your company and encourage people to stay involved.
- Replying to customer support tickets. Let’s say you use a service like Zendesk to ensure that your customers are always well taken care of. How do you address their concerns without letting the latest customer tickets interfere with your team’s work? Outsource the ticket support to a VA.
Technical Work and Administration
- File management. Organizing your files is important. It will not only help you stay organized, but will help you keep appraised of your current file management needs. Have your VA regularly organize your files and update you with any needs that your business has to address if it’s going to maintain a properly backed up data management system.
- Cloud software management. What software do you use, and is it serving you? Are you properly backing up your files, as mentioned above? Are your files easy to access? If your office were to suddenly burn down, would you have everything you need stored digitally so you can get back up and running again as soon as possible? If not, make sure that you have your VA address these issues.
- Backing up files. Backing up files isn’t something you should have to do. If you want to make sure you have total file security, make sure that you ask your VA to make it a part of their regular routine to back up your most important folders on separate hard drives or cloud-based file storage.
- Business security. Is it easy to access the files you have? The passwords? If so, then a VA with experience in boosting data security will do a lot to help ensure you have everything you need to keep your business under wraps. You should also make sure to invest in password management software—and have your VA help with the data entry if you find that’s too difficult to set up yourself.
- Password management. Speaking of password management, how’s yours? Your VA can help keep you up-to-date, testing passwords, handling data entry, and generally building your files up to a place of reliable security.
Limitations When Working With a VA
One browse through all of the tasks listed above should give you a broad base from which to build a relationship with your VA. But what about the limitations?
You’d be surprised. Someone working on a remote basis is not limited by technology these days. They can answer phones as if they were at your desk. They can respond to texts, given the technology. They can handle customers like they’re physically at your business, even if they aren’t.
But there are some limitations we should mention:
- Independence. Keep in mind that VAs are independent people. They’re often freelancers, or work on a near-freelance basis, which means that they value flexibility of time. You’ll want to work with your VA specifically to let them know what you need and what kinds of expectations you have about your time. When you work with a company like Delegated, we can help you manage this relationship so you don’t end up hiring someone who has a completely different set of expectations.
- Physical location. Try as we might, there are no “Star Trek” transporters available that make it possible for your VA to show up at your office in a blink. That means that they will indeed be limited to their physical location. This isn’t something you should worry about, but it’s something to be aware of as you consider hiring a VA. In many cases, most of the tasks you’d have a personal assistant handle in real life are the same tasks that can be extended a VA’s way.
What Would It Cost You to Delegate to a Virtual Assistant?
If you’ve reviewed our blog post on VA costs before, you know that you can expect to pay up to $50 per hour in the United States if you’re delegating to a VA.
There’s a lot of good news associated with this cost. For starters, the cost is predictable. You know what you’re paying and you don’t have to worry about associated, hidden costs such as a new computer or paying for benefits.
But you’ll also notice that once you delegate to a virtual assistant, you’ll enjoy more time and less stress. Imagine not having to work well into the evening hours when you need a project done. Imagine waking up and finding out that a VA has completed a task while you slept. Imagine getting away from the phone for entire weekends and all vacation long.
That’s what it’s like when you know how to delegate.
Once you know that you can delegate--and how to do it--it’s time to tell if a virtual assistant is right for you. We can help. In our next resource, you’ll learn more. Or, if you’re already convinced, we recommend that you sign up with Delegated to work with a customer success manager who can help you find the VAs who will match with your specific needs. By matching their background to your most common business tasks, you’ll have a better idea of what you can (and should) delegate to a VA.