Let me hazard a guess. You're exhausted, right?
You've just about got enough energy left on a Friday night to drag yourself onto the sofa like a zombie, and sit there watching All of Us Are Dead, thinking you could star in it?
Well, here's a phrase that can help. In fact, you should get it tattooed on your forehead, but in reverse writing, so it makes sense when you look in the mirror:
You should only do what only you can do.
Just cast your mind back to when you started your MSP. You had no choice but to do most of - if not all - the jobs; cook, chief bottle washer, front of house, bookkeeper, handyman. They were all your priorities.
Fast-forward to today, and your new priority should be to stop doing any jobs that, in reality, could be done by someone else.
And yes, that means the technical jobs. But what about the admin jobs, or even... the marketing jobs?
What you could really do with is someone who can do all your 'stuff'. The stuff that keeps you working IN the business, rather than ON the business.
What you need is a Rebecca, aka a virtual assistant (VA).
Now, far off in the distance, I can faintly hear some of you protesting (it's my version of Spidey-Sense. But it only works with marketing emergencies, sadly). Let me allay those fears.
1. But Paul, no one else can do things quite as well as I can
Of course, I get that. I'm a business owner too! So I appreciate that one of the very reasons we start our own businesses is to achieve total control.
We want to be able to do things exactly the way we want them to be done, when we want them done.
And that's still perfectly legitimate when it comes to the big things. But for the small things, your job now is to lay out exactly how stuff should be done... and then get other people to do it for you.
2. But Paul, I don't have the spare cash to take on more staff
Here's a little exercise you can do to understand just how cheap VAs are:
- Write down how much you charge out your personal time per hour. Let's say £100
- Write down the cost of a VA per hour. Let's say £20
- Do the obvious sum: £100 - £20 = £80
- So, hiring someone to do stuff so you don't have to gives you the earning potential of £80 per hour.
I realise that you probably won't invest the hours saved into "billable" time. But you still come out ahead, so long as you invest the time into working on the business, not just caught up working in it with other tasks.
The other beauty of VAs is that they scale up with you. You can hire someone for a couple of hours a week or month to start off with, and increase their hours as you have more work for them to do.
3. But Paul, I'm not sure about hiring a remote worker off the internet
One of the advantages of the pandemic is the flood of talented virtual assistants to the marketplace (because not everyone wanted to go back to the office).
Highly-motivated and skilled people, with great mindsets, are suddenly available to work for you, for as little as a couple of hours a week.
And post-Covid, we've got all the tech set up to effectively communicate and collaborate with colleagues without having to sit next to each other (Zoom, Basecamp, Monday, Slack - the list is endless).
Being a virtual assistant is no longer unusual. It's become a valid career choice for people who want flexibility, working from home. And that's something you can use to your advantage.
What can you use a Rebecca for?
Even basic first line tickets can be done by a VA for you. As long as you train and coach them to do it.
If you were to take on an apprentice tomorrow, you'd train them how to set up a new user, change a password, etc. It's a case of writing up a Standard Operating Procedure and making sure they can follow it, right?
Which means that any task you can break down into a SOP, you can get a VA to do for you.
Wouldn't it be amazing if you no longer had to;
- Faff with invoices?
- Deal with first line tickets?
- Answer emails?
- Schedule social media?
- Or handle any basic, repeatable task?
Here's a list of what my VA does for me (with the caveat that I run an MSP Marketing Consultancy, not an MSP. But I bet you'd benefit from someone doing very similar, if not the same, tasks for you);
- Reads my email, deals with what she can, and prioritises the rest so I can whizz through it at speed, twice a day.
- Retrieves invoices and sends them to Xero. Makes sure I pay the few manual payment invoices on time.
- Checks out people who want to join my MSP Marketing Facebook group, to make sure vendors and non-IT people don't sneak in
- Acts as first line moderator for that group
- Checks out people who've requested a free copy of my book to ensure they're an MSP
Granted, I handed over these tasks slowly - one thing at a time. And I waited until I was sure they understood and were happy with that task before introducing something else. But now, they're a superstar of my organisation, so the effort was well and truly worth it.
Where to find a Rebecca (other random names are available)
There are 2 options;
- Hire a freelancer: Typically this is a one-person band who has set themselves up as a VA. My experience of these kind of VAs is that they're either utterly brilliant or the other end of the scale. Check out Fiverr or Upwork to find freelancers (also good places to look for people who can do other, more specialist tasks for you. For example, I have John in the US who does video voiceovers for me (Fiverr), and Ray in the Phillipines who converts InDesign files into Publisher files for me (Upwork).
- Hire through an agency: The downside of an agency is that you pay more. The bigger upside is that they have done all the hiring, vetting and training for you. And when someone doesn't work out, they do the dirty job of "firing", so you don't have to. The first couple of VAs I got through them just weren't right. But I had a brilliant account manager, and we worked closely together to get the right people on board.
Like me, you might go through two, three, even four VAs before you find the right one. But believe me, when you find your Rebecca, VAs are awesome.