There are many reasons why people decide to become entrepreneurs and start their own businesses. For some, it's their passion for their product and the chance to turn their dream into a reality. Others crave the freedom that comes with being your own boss. While there are a whole host of advantages to being an entrepreneur, recent reports reveal a common issue that many business owners are facing.
Simply put, they are working too much.
According to surveys by The Alternative Board, business owners find themselves spending, on average, 18% more time at work than they believe they should. 66% of business owners work between 40-60 hours per week, with 19% racking up more than 60 hours per week! When asked how many hours they would like to be working instead, 72% would rather work between 30-49 hours per week to be able to spend more time with family and friends.
But what is causing this discrepancy? And how can we fix it?
The answer lies in our to-do lists. The truth is, the majority of tasks that we encounter every day can make us feel busy, but they do little to help us move closer to our goals or push our business forward.
Why entrepreneurs should delegate recurring tasks
Whether you want to reduce your excessive overtime or focus on growing your business, the more time you can reclaim, the better. But to get the highest return on your delegation-investment, you’ll need to be strategic.
When it comes to the biggest drains on our time, the most derailing distractions, and the biggest threats to our productivity, it’s death by a thousand cuts.
Given the choice between a one-off task that would take two hours to complete and a daily admin task that takes 20 minutes, the first option seems like an obvious choice. You can do much more with two hours than 20 minutes, right? But we need to remember two very important things.
Firstly, regardless of who you delegate to, you need to factor in the time it takes to actually delegate the task. Let’s say, for example, it takes 40 minutes to describe the task, provide instructions, share access or log-in details if necessary, and so on. Secondly, we need to be looking at the bigger picture and focusing on the benefits of time saved in the long term, rather than short-term wins.
So if we combine these two factors together, the amount of time you’d save by delegating the one-off task would equal 1 hour 20 minutes. Your total time saved at the end of the month, and even the year, would stay the same. However, by delegating the daily 20-minute task, your total time saved would be around 6 hours per month, and the equivalent of three full working days per year!
Just think of what you could achieve by having that extra time back in your schedule. And that’s just from delegating one task! On average, business owners spend 68% of their time working IN their business (day-to-day tasks, putting out fires, etc) and only 32% of their time working ON the business (strategic and revenue-generating activities that lead to increased profitability and growth). In order to truly maximize your success, you should be dedicating closer to 90% of your time to working ON your business. So with this in mind, it’s likely that there are plenty more opportunities for you to delegate that will help you reclaim even greater amounts of time.
If you’re unsure which of your regular responsibilities are the best use of your time and which should be delegated, enter them into our free to-do list optimizer to find out just how much (or how little!) of your workload actually needs to be done by you. Or, if you’re looking for a few ideas to help get you started, read on for some examples of simple tasks that will help you reclaim time every day by delegating them.
Emails and inbox management
Email has become such an integral part of our lives that it's difficult to imagine living without it. While it is certainly a necessary tool in today’s world, it’s all-too-common to get caught in email for much longer than expected. According to recent reports, the average person spends 28% of their workweek reading and responding to emails, yet only 38% of emails in the average inbox are important or relevant. So that's at least 13 hours every week, or over 81 full working days per year, spent on completely reactive, low-value work.
Use these examples to help take this top time-waster off your plate:
- Review and tidy my inbox
- Check my inbox and flag or forward any important emails
- Check my inbox and respond to emails
- Check my inbox and schedule or reschedule appointments
Be clear on the process you’d like your virtual assistant to follow. For example, which email and calendar tools do you use? What sort of emails should be left in your inbox? Do you have guidelines for emails your VA should respond to?
According to data analyzed by LucidMeetings, senior executives attend 12 meetings per week, on average. Based on this figure, it is thought that the time spent simply arranging or planning meetings (not attending them) can be as much as 6 hours per week or 15% of your workweek.
Of course, keeping your calendar up-to-date is crucial for staying organized, and meetings can often be time-sensitive. But whilst an important meeting might be a major stepping stone in your success journey, as the head of your business, there are far more valuable uses for that 15% of your workweek.
- Check my schedule and resolve conflicts
- Confirm tomorrow’s schedule with me
Establish how you would like your virtual assistant to confirm your schedule, for example, via email or phone call. If there is a conflict in your schedule, should your VA contact you for further instructions, or do you have guidelines they can follow to help prioritize and reschedule events?
Sales and customer support
It goes without saying that your business would be nothing without your clients and customers, so it is essential to keep revenue flowing. If either of these are neglected, your business will suffer. But with such a vast array of sales and support-related admin tasks that may need addressing at any given moment, it’s likely you’ll always be facing more tasks than you have time for. That’s when your overtime stacks up, and your work days get longer and longer as you try to keep up.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Preserve your time and energy by placing these tasks in the hands of an experienced virtual assistant:
- Check and respond to incoming customer contact
- Respond to queries from customers, potential customers, or third parties
- Check my ticket system and reply to any new tickets
- Check for messages and call back any new queries
- Check my customer service inbox and reply to any new messages
- Check for online reviews about my business and notify me of new ones
- Check the payment status of invoices
- Check for late payments and conduct email or phone reminders
- Check for new customers and onboard them
- Check for new orders and process them
- Check for new contracts or proposals that need to be created
- Input orders and create invoices
Provide clear instructions for the processes your virtual assistant should follow. It may also be helpful to give examples of possible scenarios they may be likely to encounter, and guidelines on how to deal with them.
Marketing and social media
The average time small business owners spend on their social media marketing is 6 hours per week, almost one full day of work. While maintaining an active presence and engaging with your community is vital for businesses of all sizes, these are prime examples of working IN your business rather than ON your business. Not only that, social media is one of the biggest culprits when it comes to distraction and procrastination.
If you want to avoid being sucked into social media wormholes and focus your efforts on the bigger picture, delegating these daily tasks is a good place to start:
- Check my social media channels for messages and send replies
- Check for social media mentions and notify me of any new ones
- Moderate my Facebook or LinkedIn group
- Check my blog for new comments and respond to them
Specify which social platforms your virtual assistant should check, and don’t forget to provide access or log-in details. What actions should your virtual assistant take for spam comments?
In both our professional and personal lives, there are so many things vying for our attention and demanding action that it's easy to get stuck in time-wasting activities without even realizing it. For example, did you know that the average time spent simply searching for documents is 4.5 hours per week?
As I mentioned earlier, the ultimate aim is to spend 90% of your time on the most high-impact tasks that will help you reach your goals. Think about the things you do every day, and think about what you want to achieve. If a task doesn’t directly add value or move you closer to your goals, and if it doesn’t need to be done by you, you should consider delegating it.
- Review my to-do list and identify tasks where you can assist
- Check my voicemail and email me any new messages
- Organize files in Dropbox or Google Drive
Explain any processes you would like your virtual assistant to follow. Share access or provide log-in details where necessary.
What’s The Bottom Line?
It may be tempting to prioritize offloading ad-hoc tasks that come up, especially if they seem more time-intensive at first glance. However, the true value of having a virtual assistant lies in recurring tasks. These tasks may seem harmless enough, but the truth is, every hour spent on these activities keeps our business small. Delegating just one recurring task today will go a long way in helping you achieve more.
If you’re ready to take back control of your time and focus more on what matters the most, look no further than our expert team at Time etc. Our mission is to help hardworking and ambitious entrepreneurs do more meaningful work by matching them with the best virtual assistant for their needs. We know your time is precious, which is why you won’t need to do any of the heavy lifting. To ensure that you have a great experience as well as great results, we have a rigorous 10-stage application process for VAs looking to join us, with only the top 2% of assistants making it through, on average. Not only that, we offer all our users a lifetime happiness guarantee.
Speak to our team to find out how we can help you today.