Written By: Steve Wagner (CEO, Evergreen Strategic Systems)
November 5, 2019 | 3:03pm
I am now in the 7th year of my business. I can remember the stages I went through.
When I first started, it was the COOLEST thing. I was achieving my dream of being an entrepreneur! I was self employed! I didn’t play by the rules everyone else did! And with every victory, my excitement grew! Every new lead was invigorating. Every added customer was AMAZING! Each time I would get a check, I would be out of my mind with joy and couldn’t believe I was doing it!
I remember my 3rd year, where slowly, tasks started to become overwhelming. I would have to spend 8 hours in the office finishing small tasks, emailing clients, taking calls, and following leads, and then having to execute the delivery of our product. The greatest feeling in the world, and the ecstasy that came with really "crushing it” began to fade.
I remember one period in particular when I was cranking out 5 hours every morning at my desk, and then 7 hours with clients (meaning I was with them and had to be “on” every minute) for 32 consecutive days, weekends included.
I remember feeling BEYOND burned out. Way, way beyond burned out. To a point where I wanted to stop.
BUT, like so many entrepreneurs who are superpeople and have no quit in them, I could not stop. (I now know that, without knowing it then I was building a job, not a business...I was so mistaken!).
Thankfully, I was able to take a 2 week vacation following that busy period, and, at the suggestion of a mentor, I decided I needed to hire help.
The issue was, I could NOT afford help. No way.
First, I was in a specialty service field and my customers trusted me. I couldn’t just hand business over to somebody new—that would take time.
And, although I could hand over my office duties to someone (emailing clients, CRM data input, back and forth time scheduling, invoicing, etc) I could NOT afford a full time assistant. The time it took to hire someone, the risk, not to mention full time wage and benefits. And if I was going to hire someone part time I would have to find them a place to work, find the time to meet with them, make sure they were screened and trained…
Then, I found out about VA’s. I first read about them in Tim Ferris’ four hour work week (if you haven’t read it, you should!). And then I heard about them from a kind business owner I met while I was traveling abroad.
It was appealing, but I was skeptical. Trusting someone you only communicate with online to take a critical role in your business? My business was unique, and we had unique problems to solve. How could a virtual assistant possibly work out? I was afraid that if I put my trust in someone else I would lose my business, my livelihood. Tentatively, I decided to test one out for one week.
Within the first three days, I saw a dramatic change in my quality of life. All of a sudden, the work started clearing up. Small tasks here and there were being taken off my plate; following up on leads, invoicing clients, updating my website with a new reviews, all these little things that were cluttering up my schedule just began disappearing. I didn’t have to constantly monitor what my VA was doing, she was just taking care of everything behind the scenes! It felt like after a year of being underwater, I could finally breathe again. And most importantly, my passion for my business came back as well! Being able to focus ONLY on doing what you love while thinking of new ways to grow what you’ve built, is what makes entrepreneurship such an exciting prospect in the first place!
Finally, I was able to get back to that to that ideal vision I had when I first struck out on my own as a business owner. In the end, all it took was a little help!