How Founders and Leaders Buy Time: Outsourcing, Virtual Assistants, Interns

You may not be able to buy happiness, but you can buy time, and in my book that is just a hop skip and a jump from happiness and freedom! As a Founder & CEO (heck, as a human!), time is really all I have. And what better way to invest your money than into a person who will help you get time back in your day, give them an opportunity for income and career growth, and help your team, business, and life thrive?

Not to mention – if we’re being honest – how many things are entrepreneurs and leaders really good at? Probably about three: creating and casting the vision, putting the right people in the right seats on the bus, and solving complex problems to keep the company on track. That’s it. The rest? Most founders are going to delegate those tasks out as quickly as possible or just not do them at all.

Enter the assistant. Now, we all know that assistants come in many different forms, skill sets, experience, levels, and titles. However, for the sake of this conversation, let’s assume you are not quite ready to hire a full-time, full-fledged Force Multiplier for you or your business. I get it. Funds are tight (especially if you’re bootstrapping and not raising venture capital or getting a business loan). And beyond that, you may not even have the workload to necessitate a full-time hire. When you’re first beginning to build your business, you may simply be looking to delegate a few tasks, not hire an executive business partner. As your company grows or your personal life changes, you may need more expertise in certain areas, more time back in your day, or someone else to carry the workload with you. Until then, you’ve got options! (If you are ready, but need more covincing on why you should finally hire an assistant, read this post.)

It’s time to invest! No, no. Not into another system for you to set up and manage, but into the best investment you can make for your business – people.

Delegate by Outsourcing

When you’re just getting started, here are a few ways you can get the assistance you need to keep growing your business, until such a time that it makes sense to hire a full-time Force Multiplier (which I highly encourage you to do!):

Outsourcing

Investopedia.com defines outsourcing as “…the business practice of hiring a party outside a company to perform services or create goods that were traditionally performed in-house by the company’s own employees and staff.” For Founders, a great place to start buying time back is through outsourcing. This could be bookkeeping, graphic design, social media management, scheduling, web design, or app development. I often think of outsourcing on more of a per-project basis (like web development) or tasks that don’t require the individual to be available for a full 8-hours a day (like with bookkeeping). This can be a great option to get started with delegation. It’s easy to dip your toe into giving up control of pieces of the business, and it’s relatively easy to take back if needed. Just note, that if you are relying on outsourcing for many functions of your business (without any other in-house staff) then you will be responsible for managing and holding accountable these various third-party services. It is still less time-intensive than doing it yourself, but not completely hands-off.

Interns

Interns are another viable option to gain more time back in your day as a Founder. These can either be virtual or in-person depending on the needs of your business. Interns will be able to help with some tasks and responsibilities, but be aware that internships are designed as educational opportunities for the intern, less so to fill a hole in your organization. I also want to note that you should check with your state laws about paid vs. unpaid internships. But don’t let that deter you! Hiring an intern is an excellent way for you to hone your leadership and management skills, provide on-the-job experience and training for the intern, build your network with local colleges and universities for future talent and opportunities, and potentially be training a future hire! If both parties are committed to a successful internship, it can really be a fantastic experience for the Founder and the intern.

Virtual Assistants

To me, virtual assistants are the next level of leverage for Founders and leaders. Let’s take a second to define virtual assistant. The basic definition is that a virtual assistant is an independent contractor who provides administrative services to clients while operating remotely. So many of us work virtually now, that the biggest distinction here is that they are independent contractors. If you choose to hire an independent contractor virtual assistant, make sure you are well aware of all of the labor laws associated with 1099 hires. If those parameters work for you, great! Virtual assistants can be a huge benefit to founders and can handle many aspects of the business. Where outsourcing, for me, is more segmented and project-based, virtual assistants have a broader skillset and are more adaptable to the needs of the Founder (within their contracted scope of service, of course). Many virtual assistants offer part-time or full-time options which makes it easier to increase the investment as your business grows. Just read the fine print. Make sure you are clear on what is covered and what is not with your virtual assistant. If you hire a part-time virtual assistant, they may be working with one or more additional clients and may not be available at any hour. In fact, they may likely have a set schedule where they are working with you, which may not always work with a Founder’s creative energy and flexible schedule. Check out this conversation with serial entrepreneur & angel investor, David Hauser, to hear how he works with a virtual assistant.

Find What Works for the Phase Your Business is in

As you can see, there are pros and cons to outsourcing, hiring interns, or working with a virtual assistant. But that is true even for a full-time W2 employee! Hiring and retaining talent is never easy. The above are all viable short-term solutions (though a virtual assistant/remote employee could fit the bill long-term depending on your needs and their skill set). The bottom-line here is that more often than not, entrepreneurs and leaders need someone to help them handle the 80% of their job that they are not good at – administration, system creation, scheduling, office management, event planning, bookkeeping, meeting prep, customer service, communication, and all the other miscellaneous minutia that is part of being the owner or leader of a business.

A great place to start is by outsourcing, hiring an intern, or working with a virtual assistant until you and your business are ready to graduate to a full-time hire, such as an Executive Assistant or Personal Assistant. You can also download our Force Multiplier job descriptions for free.

Do you have experience outsourcing or working with interns or virtual assistants? How does that compare to working with a full-time Force Multiplier?

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