Do you have a need to always be in control?
Some business owners enjoy being busy fools. Well, I say ‘enjoy’…they actually just suffer the situation rather than ask for help, delegate to their staff or outsource tasks to third parties.
It’s not that they don’t recognise that they’re worked off their feet. It’s not that they wouldn’t appreciate a lighter workload and a more palatable pace of life—they just fear losing control.
People fearful of outsourcing believe that they’re the only person who can do their work to their high standards. Outsourcing work, in their eyes, represents a loss of control; they may lose customers or their authority may be undermined.
The thing is, once you experience the benefits that come from outsourcing, you’ll likely wonder what took you so long to come round to the idea.
Fear can hold you and your business back from achieving growth. It’s actually a mindset issue…the outsourced work will be done to the same standard by the third party whether you worry about it or not. If you choose a reputable professional with plenty of good reviews, and if you are clear enough in your brief/explanation of the work that needs to be done, there’s really very little that can go wrong. Unless you’re a rocket scientist (and even they will have people to outsource to within their sector, no doubt), or a master craftsman with years and years of specialist training under your belt, the work you’re planning to outsource will be easy enough for others to pick up.
If you are nervous or fearful of delegating work to others, how can you overcome these feelings?
1. Be clear on what it is you want someone else to do
If you’re not clear on the work you intend to pass on, there’s every chance it won’t be up to your exacting standards. After all, I may be an accomplished and experienced VA, but I am not a mind-reader. Don’t assume I’ll know anything and everything about your work, your business and the task you’re offloading…I mean, I probably will, but let neither of us take that chance. It’s better to give me too much information than too little. Don’t worry that you’ll offend me by giving me instructions a five-year-old could follow; I want to nail the task and the quality of the work I’m completing on your behalf just as much as you do.
Written instructions are better than verbal ones, if this can be arranged—and I’ll ask questions concerning any aspect I don’t understand, don’t worry. It may seem that, by creating a detailed brief, it would be quicker to simply do the task yourself but look at it as short-term pain for long-term gain. You’ll only need to tell me once, and after that, you can offload this/these tasks to me again and again, which will free up your time and focus and reduce your stress levels.
2. Thoroughly research who you plan to outsource work to
It won’t upset me, nor any other professional, if you ask for references, examples of past work, or spend time looking me up on the world wide web. I want you to feel comfortable about any outsourcing arrangement and I’m always happy to answer any questions you may have. Should it make the process easier, I’m also happy to give you regular updates as I carry out your work—whatever reassurance you need to overcome your reservations.
3. Remember that I’m not you
This is an important point. Of course I’ll follow your instructions, and of course I will strive to achieve the end result you expect. However, I may have different working practices; I may keep different hours in my business. I may approach the task slightly differently…I just may not do things how you do them if I think there’s a better/easier way. Your expectations, therefore, need to be fluid rather than rigid in this respect…a new working relationship may take time to get used to, and a little give and take may be necessary on both sides. Recognise that you’re choosing a professional VA, not creating a clone. That’s not to say the experience will end in disaster, far from it…if I hadn’t fulfilled my previous clients’ briefs to a quality they expected I wouldn’t have remained in work to even have a conversation with you. Exercise a little trust that things will turn out okay.
4. Remember that I have other clients
In the same vein, whilst I’m carrying out your work, I’ll also be dealing with my other clients. Being a professional VA, I’m used to juggling tasks whilst not compromising on the focus or attention each one needs. I know I said earlier that I’m happy to have regular check-ins with you, but I also have boundaries (I have to, or I’d never get any work done!); though it may allay your fears to phone me every half-hour, this will have a knock-on effect on the quality of the work I produce for you, and that of the other people I’m servicing during that period. At the outset, we will agree a timescale and the frequency of any updates, and we both need to respect this.
5. Remember why you’re doing this
The first few times you entrust your clients’ work to someone else, it may seem terrifying—after all, it’s your hard-won reputation on the line. I will never send work directly to your clients unless instructed to do so—take heart that you will be able to fully review what your customers will receive.
If you view outsourcing as a loss of control, begin with tasks that only impact you/the back end of your business—such as book-keeping, social media content, your policies and procedures, your business admin, management of your CRM system, creating your marketing literature. Outsourcing not only frees you up for tasks that will move your business on, the professional you bring into your business could also act as an effective, confidential sounding board.
Remember, you can’t grow your business if you don’t learn to let go—physically and emotionally. Outsourcing is the first step towards scaling your business, and it really does get easier the more you do it.
You’re absolutely right that no one will carry out your tasks exactly how you do, but there’s usually more than one way to skin a cat. It’s short-sighted, and incorrect, to assume no one can do your work as good as you…and if you never give anyone the chance, how can you know this for sure anyway?
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you’re proved wrong? Think of all the things you could focus on that are bigger and better than the tasks you could outsource…things that could have a real impact on your company and, ultimately, your future.
Your time is finite. Don’t apply this same restriction to the growth of your business.