The concept of online businesses and running virtual teams is still hard for some people to wrap their head around. It makes me so happy that thought leaders are trying to change this by building awareness about this world.
That’s why I was so excited when Chris Ducker released his new book Virtual Freedom. I had the pleasure of attending the book launch party in Portland during World Domination Summit where I picked up my copy. Chris is a well-known virtual CEO and has been an advocate of outsourcing and virtual teams for a long time. The book dives into his own story of working tiring hours as a CEO with no freedom (afflicted with “Superhero Syndrome), and the strategies he’s learned about outsourcing and working with virtual teams.
I highly recommend the book for anyone that runs an online business (whether you are ready to outsource or not). Chris breaks down the different Virtual Assistants or VA’s (the overarching term for any virtual team member you bring on your team) that a business owner will work with and the strategies for how one works with each. He debunks myths and addresses common concerns amongst business owners for outsourcing.
You will need to read the whole book to get all of his juicy tips. In the meantime, I’ve summarized my key takeaways from the book.
There is no Super-VA.
I repeat: there is no Super-VA. When business owners start outsourcing, they sometimes make the mistake of expecting one VA to take care of every area of the business.
Instead, Chris suggests that business owners should hire a General Virtual Assistant that can take care of a variety of general tasks for the business. They are the closest thing you will find to a Super VA, but as your business grows, you will find that additional team members are necessary, like content writers, video editors, graphic designers, etc. If you realize from the beginning that there is no Super VA, it will save you headaches down the road.
VA’s are not mind-readers
A common challenge that business owners experience is when VA’s don’t execute tasks the way they would have hoped. They expect the VA to be a mind-reader and do the task they had envisioned in their head. Unless, you explain EXACTLY how you want something accomplished, there’s a good chance that it won’t happen.
A business owner can do this by showing their VA examples with screenshots, screencasts and clear instructions. If the business owner makes the VA feel comfortable asking questions about the task, that will also help to clarify expectations. Benchmarks and checkpoints are also extremely helpful to ensure that the VA is on the right track.
VA’s are people
A virtual team may be spread out all over the world and live in a different country than the business owner, but they deserve consideration just like they would if they worked at the same office. When team members are treated with respect and courtesy it is more likely that they will stay loyal to the business for the long=term. VA’s should also be paid what they are worth. There are different pay scales, depending on what role you are hiring for that Chris goes into depth about.
A Virtual Project Manager will be the next step in maintaining your freedom
As a virtual team grows, the business owner will naturally fall in the role of the project manager. Pretty soon, managing the team will start to take up time from the business owner that could be better spent on big-picture, business-building activities.
The next step in the process is to bring on a Virtual Project Manager or VPM. The VPM will become the primary contact for the business owner to receive updates about tasks and will be responsible for moving projects forward with the other team members.
I love that Chris touched on this point because as an Online Business Manager, project managing is something we handle so I know the value that this can bring to a business owner!
The book is chock full of case studies with other virtual CEO’s, guidelines and checklists that will help you on your outsourcing journey. Chris provides links to his website with templates that you can access and download to help delegate tasks. Make sure you order your own copy to get all the goodness!
I hope Chris’ book helps make your outsourcing process a little bit easier (and less scary). What concerns do you have about outsourcing? Let me know in the comments or shoot me an email!