Originally published in Entrepreneur by Ruth Agbaji, December 14, 2020
Let me just start by saying that I am a really hard worker. Not as a brag or anything but as a fact. I am a mom of two, a CEO, a franchisor, a black woman in STEM, and an immigrant. There’s a lot that comes with all those identities. I am no stranger to hard work and the do-it-yourself attitude. But do you know what else is true about me? I am an awful graphic designer and an even worse bookkeeper!
When I started building my business, Code Wiz, I was determined to be resourceful and do as much as possible on my own. I hear lots of new franchisors say the same things. Most of us are self-funded and we all want so badly to avoid wasting resources on tasks that feel like we can “just do ourselves”. After all, how hard can some spreadsheets and social media posts be, really? “It’ll take just an hour”, we say. 4 hours later, we’re still tweaking because we’re also perfectionists.
I think you may know where this is going. I ended up having some awful, sleepless nights working on half-baked projects and some truly ‘meh’ graphics. I wanted to create a strong Orange Theory-like brand and solid business strategies but I just didn’t have the budget for a fancy marketing agency.
Then. I discovered the world of Virtual Assistants.
The Magic of a Virtual Army
It started with those pesky graphics. I really thought I wasn’t that bad at graphic design until I hired my virtual graphics assistant. When I looked at what they could create I was floored! Why had I spent so much of my time and energy on this task when I could hire someone who could do twice as good a job in less than half the time?
I was hooked. I formed a ‘virtual army’ of virtual assistants and freelance experts who support my business in social media, data entry, website design, SEO, video editing, copywriting, and more. I honestly can’t imagine running my business without this incredible group of people.
Once this amazing team of virtual experts was onboarded and a part of my daily life I realized that I had been overextending myself. Doing too much and producing too little. I had been using my valuable time on tasks that were not in my skillset when I could have been innovating and growing my business. Not the best feeling. But I am grateful I realized my mistake and now value the professionalism of my brand and the importance of my time.
Outsourcing Can Save Your Sanity
I am now obsessed with outsourcing. I think it’s because I really value my hours in the day and what that time is worth. I have begun outsourcing personal tasks as well. Especially for those of you emerging franchisors who are balancing work with family life. Outsourcing tasks like grocery shopping, cooking, and cleaning can be incredibly helpful as it leaves you more time for moments with your family and the hours to grow your business.
Instead of trying to wear 20,000 hats (sometimes in one day) you can actually focus on your superpowers and let other experts – like professional website developers and home cleaning services – use their distinct superpowers. What ends up happening is a collection of hyper-focused individuals working towards a common goal – and that is a beautiful thing.
3 Ways Outsourcing Can Skyrocket Your Emerging Franchise
The overall productivity of your business will increase as you spend more of your valuable time on the tasks that will really move the needle in your business Plus, if you hire virtual assistants from across the globe, work will still be getting done even while you’re sleeping!
Decreased Operational Costs
When you take away the need to hire a full-time employee for a small job (and there are plenty of small jobs when you are in your emerging phase) you reduce your operational costs. Especially if you can hire inexpensive talent. For example, if you outsource from places where the value of a dollar goes far.
You obviously want your business to stand out. One of the very best ways to do that is to have an expert create your content, branding, website, etc. Not only does this leave you more time to create connections and sales to actually grow your brand, but the quality of your business will be elevated as well.
This approach is not without its challenges. You could hire the wrong person that derails an entire project but with all things, you get better the more you do it. I like to turn to places like Upwork where you can find talent that has been pre-vetted on someone else’s dime and has a system in place to ensure quality work is done for your company.
Next time you have 20,000 things on your to-do list, ask yourself, is this something that really needs to be done by me? Can I afford to put someone else on this task for a few hours? If yes, go find yourself a virtual general for your army!