When I first left my corporate role and started my business I felt this tremendous pressure to handle everything myself. Having just jumped ship from a series of high-profile corporate jobs with major companies, I felt like the pressure (and eyes) were on me to prove myself as a successful entrepreneur.
I loved the freedom of creating my own schedule and choosing my own projects, and I was getting to travel the world like I had only dreamed about. But I was getting bogged down in the details of making sure my business actually kept running, and it was getting to me.
Contracts, invoices, scheduling, background research, website updates and other logistical details weighed me down, stressed me out and took valuable time away from both my clients and the quality work that I wanted to be doing.
I'm a creator at heart, and the need to create good work with good people is what drove me to start my own business in the first place. Suddenly I found myself spending entire days, sometimes more, on paperwork and planning; I didn't feel productive. My frustration with these tasks and, the subsequent drop in happiness that came with, made me doubt if I was cut out for this whole "entrepreneurship" thing after all...
Now don't get me wrong, it's not as if I was unwilling to "do the work." I didn't expect running a business to be easy, and I appreciate the importance of knowing what makes your business tick, and understanding the intricacies of your own contracts and finances. But my business is based on my experience and the value I bring to a room; time is money, and these logistics no longer felt like the best use of my time. It was time to make a change.
I thought about getting an assistant or an admin who could help with the details, but I worried I wouldn't have enough work to keep someone truly busy. On top of that, the logistics of figuring out how to legally and properly add a real employee to my business-of-one felt like more work than just continuing to do things myself.
I looked into virtual assistants---someone remote who could be my go-to person, as needed, when things came up. But I wasn't sure I had the time to properly train them and ensure quality help remotely. I was stressed (probably too much) about the challenges of potential time changes and language barriers, and of letting some stranger have access to, well, everything.
I worried I'd done all that research only to end up in the same place, overwhelmed nd frustrated. But after talking to a few fellow entrepreneurs, I began to discovered that there were tools for outsourcing specific tasks, ad hoc, that could be helpful and less of a lift to implement. While the idea of several solutions might seem less efficient than a single one, it also made committing to them easier, allowing me to take baby steps toward outsourcing and opening up my schedule.
After a bit of trial and error, I think I've finally discovered a suite of tools that help me keep balanced:
I signed up for FancyHands to take care of small admin-like tasks, like making reservations, scheduling appointments, finding travel options and digging up contact information; since you pay per-task for a pre-vetted helper to jump in, it was easier than having to interview and hire an assistant myself.
For more complex or deeper information-based assistance, I got on board with AskWonder, which lets you purchase two hours of research at a time to help find answers to questions. When I need background information for an upcoming meeting, need some research on a topic, or want to compile a list of relevant examples for an upcoming presentation, a knowledgeable researcher is there to dig up some details.
A few other niche tools were added to the mix, too. I got on board with MeetEdgar for social optimization, so I wasn't manually filling my social queue every day. I signed up for FreshBooks to automate the creation of invoices and track my expenses. I also experimented with using x.ai to assist with calendar management.
All of these tools let me relinquish control of the more tedious tasks of my business without having to make a tremendous investment of time and effort to train someone. But more importantly, they gave me back valuable hours that can now be spent doing what I do best: leveraging my experience and knowledge to help my clients achieve better outcomes.