You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience.

How Tech Founders Scale (Without Working 18+ Hour Days) With Virtual Executive Assistants

Written by: Sandra Lewis

Growth can either be planned or unplanned, but it’s the second one that can actually hurt your business.

Just because your business continues to grow doesn’t mean you’re ready for it. This is a question of scaling, because while you can grow without scaling, it won’t be pretty and it won’t last long.

Growth without scaling looks like all kinds of customer demand with no ability to deliver what you’ve promised within budget or a manageable workload. It might start with incredible word of mouth popularity, followed by seriously unhappy customers, and an extremely tired you. Mostly, you’ll feel like you’re always a bit behind the curve, trying to catch up to runaway demand.

You need more of you. But unfortunately, you can’t clone yourself. 

What you can do is get a virtual executive assistant. For some founders the thought of giving up control of even their email inbox is terrifying. If you are feeling that way, you need to understand why there’s a problem in the first place.

The Challenge Of Scaling

The founders of CorgiBytes could tell you about scaling. 

Their code refurbishing startup was experiencing strong growth to the point where Andrea Goulet, the CEO, took to Twitter wondering if working 18 hour days was what she could expect from here on out.

You probably identify with her. When you started your business, the main thing was getting the idea started. It’s easy to forget that once you have the ball rolling, you need to start planning for growth. That rolling ball is going to go somewhere, and determining its course is what scaling is all about.

Scaling properly comes with several challenges:

  1. Jumping the gun. In your eagerness to be ready to scale, you get the process going too early. It’s good to have the plan, but you kick it into gear before you have to, discovering that there’s no real momentum to carry you through. In other words, you’re not growing enough yet, and are still in the starting phases.
  2. Building the wrong team. Whether it’s team members or vendors, you’ve relied on people who won’t scale well. If they can’t handle a sudden fluctuation in work and demand, your best plan will break at that weakest link. Or, perhaps you’ve set up a team structure that is self-limiting, and can’t be agile when times demand it.
  3. Confusing short-term and long term. Flashy marketing and clever ideas deliver instant gratification, but they don’t necessarily sustain growth. It’s a kind of temporary growth that can fool you into scaling for what isn’t really there yet. This can be a waste of time and resources.
  4. Missing warning signs. Whether it’s internal issues that are developing, or external warnings from competitors or customers, it’s easy to narrow your focus on other things and miss the signs of a problem until it’s too late.
  5. Misunderstanding what growth is. Is growth determined by upward sales? Or by outward expansion of a team? There are lots of factors and indicators that tell you something is growing, but it’s not always easy to determine if growth is naturally occurring and you’re responding to it, or if you’re forcing the appearance of growth unawares.
  6. Confusing scaling with growth. The two are correlated, but they aren’t the same. Scaling is about planning and equipping your business to handle all of the things that come along with growth, like flexibility and agility. It’s about adapting to changes and speed bumps that you didn’t foresee. It’s about being able to meet demands on your time and your team without either crumbling under pressure.
  7. Becoming exponentially overwhelmed. When real growth starts, it can happen at an almost exponential rate. If you don’t have the plan or team ready to help handle it, you’ll end up wearing yourself out trying to keep up.

The tricky piece when it comes to understanding how growth and scaling work together is that there is clearly a need for extreme flexibility. Even the best plan can’t account for what you don’t see. You have to plan for agility instead of trying to plan for every contingency.

If only there was a viable solution to help you deal with all this ambiguity, to reduce your workload so you could step back and figure out what’s going on.

Fortunately for you, there is!

Scale Your Business With Virtual Executive Assistants

Virtual executive assistants can help you scale your business by allowing you to offload work you shouldn’t be doing. You’ll increase efficiency while still being consistent with what you deliver to customers.

Remember Andrea, of CorgiBytes, and those extreme 18 hour work days? 

“I just thought that’s what entrepreneurs did,” she explained, but she also knew it wasn’t sustainable for long. She was the first to take the leap to using a virtual executive assistant and saw results within a week. “I was blown away. All of a sudden, I was working normal hours.”

How could a virtual executive assistant possibly help you keep your business growing, while helping you go from 18 hours a day to 8? 

  1. They help you focus on the main thing. Spending time in your email inbox, or scheduling meetings, is a waste of your time. There are more important things you should be doing, and the little tasks are keeping you from being effective and preventing you from visionary planning. Your time has value; wasting it is expensive.
  2. They give you peace of mind. Getting your life back while knowing that work is getting done is priceless. As Andrea quickly learned, an excessively heavy workload can make continued future growth seem dreadful. While it’s tough for some founders to trust others to do the work they’ve always done, the right virtual executive assistant is one you can trust.
  3. They simplify hiring. If things are moving quickly, you might not have the time or money in place to hire in that moment. A virtual executive assistant can be up and running in days, giving you some wiggle room to hire in the future. One thing CorgiBytes discovered is that their experience with virtual assistants helped them better understand who they wanted to hire when the time came to build their team.
  4. They fill in all gaps. A top-shelf virtual executive assistant can pretty much do everything you need. Administrative tasks, marketing, social media, copywriting, bookkeeping, project management, customer service—all of the things that come with growth but hold you back from continued development can easily be handled by a quality virtual executive assistant.

The improvement a VA brings doesn’t go unnoticed.

CorgiBytes co-founder Scott saw how much of a difference Andrea’s virtual executive assistant was making in her workload. “She was getting help with her email, help writing blog posts—all kinds of tasks.” He decided to get his own VA, despite some scepticism and trouble letting go of tasks he was used to doing. “But everything I tossed her way got done, and it got done really well.”

Why We Take Matching Personalities Seriously  

Not every virtual assistant service operates the same way. Some will assign you someone next in the pool, while others assign your projects and work to a different person each time. Not every agency provides the Fortune-500 experienced virtual assistants we do.

But our experience has taught us that it goes beyond even that. Getting a virtual executive assistant as a true solution relies on three points:

  • Good matching
  • Trust
  • Flexibility

We take matching seriously, because an executive virtual assistant is a high-trust position. They’re in your banking, your email, and talking to customers. No matter how skilled they are, if you can’t trust them, you’ll never let them do the work you need them to do. You’ll simply be their task manager. 

When it comes to matching you, we make sure the personality and work style for both you and your VA are a good fit. If it is, you’ll end up with a genuine relationship that leads to trust. As Andrea noted, their executive virtual assistantss became bonafide team members. “I loved how it was a long term relationship. She wasn’t a task manager. This was a team member.”

Because the fit was so good, both Andrea and Scott were able to use the experience to define their startup’s culture going forward, one that became about delivering on time, and absolute trust. Their virtual assistants had modeled the kind of employees they wanted to hire. 

The last piece of the puzzle is flexibility. 

We know that part of the challenge of scaling is not always knowing what you’ll need. Instead of locking you into a contract and forcing you to guess at how many hours you’ll need, we use the subscription model. 

You can adjust the hours for your executive virtual assistant as your needs evolve. You’re not in danger of blowing the budget, nor do you have to be afraid of not having access to more hours than you thought you’d need.

“They helped us build the confidence to grow as a company,” Andrea said. Would you like a dose of that confidence?

As a tech founder, you’re building your business in a highly fluid landscape. Each day is one of fluctuation in competition and expectation. While you might not know exactly what tomorrow brings, you can get a virtual executive assistant today and be ready for whatever it might be. We would love to talk to you today.

Topic: Remote Executive Assistant

Updated on December 8th, 2022

About the author: Sandra Lewis is the Founder and CEO of Boldly. She's passionate about helping Businesses, Organizations and Executives increase productivity and move their work forward with the right skills and resources. Setting an example of the efficiencies gained working remotely, she’s been leading her entire team on a virtual basis for the past decade.