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Running your own online business can be A TON of work.
You know what I’m talking about – every business owner has to deal with those little tasks that waste their time or they just straight up don’t like.
The good news is that you don’t have to do everything yourself; you can (and should!) outsource work to a virtual assistant (VA) when creating your digital product.
Our guest on the Rebel Boss Ladies Podcast episode 017 is Avani Miriyala. She runs a UX consulting business, sells digital products and she’s a freelancer, business coach, and podcaster.
With everything she has going on, Avani definitely needs to outsource her extra work to other people.
Today she’s going to talk about why it’s super important to outsource work and how to find the best VA or freelancer to help with your business.
Even if you’ve never considered hiring someone else to do work, or you feel like you’re not financially able to right now, this is a great episode to listen to. Avani shares her thoughts on why you definitely need a VA, even if you’ve never considered one before.
Avani got her start in the online world in the tech industry. Working as a user experience designer showed her what it means to build really good products.
Eventually, she decided that she needed more freedom and flexibility so she could have the creativity to do what she wanted to do. “At one point I realized that I wasn't learning or growing in my position anymore and I was just really hungry for a big challenge.”
She became a freelancer, and eventually an entrepreneur, by taking the work she did in her previous jobs and selling those services as a package or retainer. “For me that was just my door into entrepreneurship because ultimately I wanted to do a lot more than that.”
Within her first few months as a freelancer, Avani scaled to 6-figures. She decided to share her success with the world, and since then has been taking her business to new and exciting levels.
Between creating digital products, podcasting and running her consulting business, Avani had so much to do that she quickly realized she needed to hire out some of her work. “Because my time is limited, out of necessity I've had to outsource.”
The concept of outsourcing is pretty simple, “it's just getting someone else to do work that you have on your plate so that you don't have to do it. And it's simple but it is magical.”
Avani stresses that you have to go into hiring out work with the right mindset. Creators and business owners should always be working in their zone of genius, and not wasting time on simple tasks.
“We are creators. Our zone of genius is making things, we are really good at coming up with ideas, fleshing them out, putting together them together making them a reality and then coming up with another idea. I don't know about you but me as a creator I really don't like doing menial tasks.”
She emphasizes that it’s super important to focus on the things that really matters, which are the high-level tasks of your business. As the visionary for her business, she always wants to be doing the things that produce the most money.
The best tasks to outsource, according to Avani, are easy tasks that can be done quickly, or the tasks that drain you as a creator.
“These tasks that put me down or the task that I just hate or that I'm not good at. If my energy is being sucked away from those tasks I have less and less time to focus on my zone of genius.”
A lot of business owners feel like they’re not fiscally ready to hire a VA and they don’t want to pay someone for work they can do themselves.
Avani recommends thinking about the value of your time if you’re not sure you’re financially able to hire out some of your work.
She suggests thinking about how much you make per hour, and comparing it with how much you’d pay someone per hour to do a task that you could outsource.
Take vacuuming, for example. “If you're a content creator you are someone who makes hundreds of dollars an hour, you are working on a $20 an hour task right there. So when you are cleaning your house… if you're vacuuming your house you're losing $80 an hour right there.”
When it comes to your online business, consider outsourcing tasks that you actually lose money hourly when you do them.
For Avani, this means tasks “like creating email, designing email things or designing things. I'm a designer and I'm saying that I outsource design. Because designing can be a $50 an hour task or $40 an hour task or even a $15 an hour task depending on what you're talking about.”
Her main recommendation? Re-frame your mindset about what your zone of genius is, and how you can accomplish the highest value tasks.
“We are entrepreneurs. We're not here to be minions in our own business. We are here to create money making machines and a money making machine does not get created because you spent time posting something on WordPress and creating SEO stuff.”
Avani considers herself a perfectionist – as a designer, she used to obsess over every pixel of her creations.
She admits that outsourcing can be difficult if you’re someone who always wants everything to be perfect. But even if you think you can do it better or quicker, hiring someone to do little tasks can really help you in the long run.
Even if it takes a freelancer longer to do work than it would for you, they’re still giving you time that you can use for the more high-value parts of your business.
If you’re a perfectionist or have a vision for that particular work, Avani also highlights the importance of giving feedback to your virtual assistant. This means not just doing all of the work yourself when it isn’t done exactly how you pictured it..
Avani struggles with this sometimes. “I always have this urge… I could just do it and fix it in like two minutes and send it off to the world.”
But Avani says that doing the work yourself is both not productive and detrimental to you as a business owner. Constantly switching between tasks can be exhausting and is a waste of your energy.
“We only have a certain amount of energy per day, so every time you do that, every time that perfectionist kicks in inside of you and you and you succumb to it, you are losing that brainpower to work on that high value task for later on.”
Avani says that in order to be the manager of your business and not the technician, you need to implement good feedback systems with your outsourced workers. She uses Asana to let her VA and freelance designers know if anything needs to be changed.
Good feedback systems are also essential for building trust between you and your virtual assistant or hired freelancer.
“The moment you jump in and let your perfectionist mind take over you are actually hurting their ego and you're hurting their ability to want to keep working for you because I don't know about you, but I hate when people micromanage and take over the tasks that they gave me to do. It makes me feel like they don't trust me. It makes me feel like they don't value me.”
Avani also emphasizes that hiring a good VA and building a relationship with them is an investment for your business. “If you want that person to be with you from some time you have to let them make mistakes… and realize this is an investment for your business, investment in yourself and your energy because you have to protect your energy as a creator.”
Hiring a freelancer is important, not just to help you with lower-level tasks but also to fill a gap in your own knowledge. Freelancers can add a lot of value to your work in areas that you can’t do yourself.
Avani’s first freelance hire was a WordPress developer. Her freelancer was able to save her a lot of time and energy because she had limited knowledge in this area.
In the beginning, the results weren’t perfect. “When my developer implements things he doesn't see the things the way I see them in my design eye. So I'm always giving him feedback but it's still saving me time.”
Hiring a freelancer for something that you’re not good at can actually be a blessing in disguise, according to Avani. “It forces you to not take over and be like I can just do this really quick.”
Hiring out a freelancer to help you in an area you’re not good at ultimately helps your business. “I actually think that that tends to be the best type of business owner. Someone who has the ideas but not necessarily all the skills to execute, because then they can outsource everything and just focus on what they're really good at.”
Ultimately, hiring out work that you’re not good at can save you a lot of time, money and virtual blood sweat and tears. There’s someone out there who has knowledge of whatever skills you may lack, whether its Facebook Ads or WordPress design.
When deciding what tasks are worth it for you to hire out, Avani recommends tracking what tasks you work on and how much time you spend working on those tasks. The free app Toggl is a great way to keep track of your time.
“I want you to track every single activity you're doing in a day, literally down to the minute. If you took a five-minute break write it down in Toggl. If you spent five minutes on Instagram write it down, if you spent 20 minutes in Asana and 10 minutes in your email inbox, write it down in Toggl.”
After recording your activities for a week, take a look at where you’re spending most of your time. For each task, decide whether it’s a good use of your time or if it would be better to outsource that work.
“Figure out where the discrepancies are, like what do you think happened in reality but what actually happened. What did you think happened expectations versus reality and what are the things that surprised you.”
If you’re spending more time on low-value tasks than high-value tasks, Avani recommends thinking about outsourcing some of that work. She suggests organizing tasks either in a “continue” category or an “outsource” category to determine what you should or shouldn’t be doing for your business.
She also suggests thinking about tasks that you need to stop doing in your business, either because they drain too much energy or you just don’t like them.
“For me one of those things was blogging. Last year I cut out blogging completely for my business because I realized, first of all I don't like it that much… And I felt like I could produce higher ROI on other things.”
Avani emphasizes that you don’t have to follow through on these decisions to “continue, stop or outsource” tasks right away. “You might not be able to outsource everything you want to outsource right away, but you can start to prioritize that outsource list.”
She recommends prioritizing your list by either determining what you like the least, or by what is most cost-effective. Once you determine your priorities, you can use the list to start looking for VAs that have the skill sets you need to be able to outsource that work.
Avani gives a couple of suggestions for anyone interested in hiring a virtual assistant or a freelancer.
First, create the job description using the list of tasks that you’ve decided to outsource.
“It's important too for you to be able to know what this person needs to do for you and for them to be able to know what they should be doing for you.”
This contract can always grow and change, but Avani recommends being very clear in the beginning with your expectations and needs. This includes your expectations on what the freelancer needs to do, and your expectations about the time commitment.
After creating your job description, the next step is to find the perfect person. Avani recommends using Facebook groups to start your search and connect with potential VAs or freelancers.
Referrals are another great way to find VAs. “Asking people you admire in the way they run their businesses for recommendations, like ‘hey who do you work with? Who is your assistant? Do they have bandwidth? That's another great way to go.’”
After identifying potential candidates, take a look at their website or portfolio to get a feel for their work, and try to arrange a time to talk to them and ask them about their previous work.
If the VA or freelancer seems like a good fit, take some time to test them out. “I think that's the best way to go rather than putting it together like a two month or three month contract or whatever number month, test them out for a month. Test them out for a few weeks see if it's a good working relationship.”
You can also test your VA for a shorter period, like a week or even just for one project, to see how well you work together. “Test out so that way you're getting some valuable work done. You're giving them a little bit of money as this test opportunity but you're not committing for them to them too long until you see what they are like and how they work in your system.”
Avani stresses that it’s really important to hire someone who is best suited for the work that you need them to do.
She’s worked with both freelancers and VAs, and says that she hires people based on how their skill sets match what work she needs to outsource. VAs may be able to help with a variety of different tasks, but freelancers are often a good fit for specialist or technical work.
Avani hired a VA to help with her podcasting, outreach and blog post creation, but she hires designers for specific graphics work.
“For designers on my team I look for freelancers because I want someone who has expertise in designing and especially the type of designing that we do for my clients. It's really really important that they're top notch designers I need them to have worked in a tech company before, understand how engineering engineering works and all those pieces. So I'm definitely not going to hire a VA for that.”
Just like you can’t be an expert at everything yourself, don’t expect your VA or freelancer to be able to do everything. You may need to hire a few different people with different skill sets to outsource all of your tasks.
If you’re offering one-on-one services to clients and you’re constantly trying to figure out ways to get new clients, Avani has a great freebie for you. Her free Client Magnet Roadmap has a five-step framework, which she uses herself, to get a steady flow of clients in her business.
This framework is how Avani is able to maintain 5-figure months in her business as a service-based entrepreneur. She’s excited for you all to get your hands on that, so check it out at AvaniMiriyala.com/free.