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To Delegate or Not To Delegate

Written by: Audrey Fairbrother

What We’ve Learned From Working With Hundreds of Business Owners About What To Task and What To Take:

“The most successful entrepreneurs and leaders make a habit of delegating everything they can to their people — keeping the things that only they can do for themselves. In this way, employees become more engaged in their work, and leaders can focus on what they need to do to lead the organization to success.”  Peter Economy, INC. columnist, Author of Managing for Dummies

We talk a lot on this blog about the ways professional support from a virtual assistant can make a world of difference for your company.

With the right help behind you, you can delegate your most time-sucking, or least-favorite tasks, and spend more time creating, doing the work you really enjoy, and finding ways to scale your business and explore new ventures. All good stuff!

But can you really delegate everything?

Most virtual assistant companies will tell you that, yes – they can do it all, and that they will miraculously handle everything you throw their way. And while we definitely love to take the positive route, and aim to make our work so incredibly efficient and dynamic that our customers rave about our incredible versatility – we have learnt over the years that sometimes there are things that are more appropriate and time saving for our clients to handle themselves.

Mostly we have found that our ability to discern between what our team can honestly handle or not has made our client partnerships all the more productive and it has actually created trust, because when you start a partnership with someone who will have access to your most personal information, knowing that they will have the know-how and discrimination to let you know what they can and cannot do is the key to true collaboration, and might even save you from disastrous mishaps or from damaging your reputation.

Since the topic of delegation comes up in many of our prospect calls – we thought we would highlight a few of the things we know have worked out best when our clients didn’t delegate them to our team in the hopes that it’s useful to anyone looking to partner with a trusted virtual assistant for the long term.

Private Medical, Legal, and Financial Tasks

Due to the immense amount of privacy laws surrounding healthcare, it can often be very difficult for anyone other than the patient to handle medical tasks, past just scheduling simple appointments. Things such as transferring medical records, accessing medical history or requesting prescriptions are best handled by the patient in an effort to avoid red tape hang-ups and save time and frustration on both ends!

And similar to medical information, having your VA obtain or adjust your personal financial or legal information can be a tricky grey area. For most financial companies or banks, any information on your accounts or changes made need to be given or done personally by the account holder. If you need your VA to do tasks related to this, be sure they are actually listed on your accounts, and have access to all the personal information on you that they may need to get through security protocols of the companies. The same goes with filling out / signing legal contracts.

If it will take you more time to relay the personal/confidential information to your VA than it would to fill the contract out yourself, better to just tackle that particular form. Do note though, if it’s information that your VA can keep on file and reuse in the future, giving the information once and having them keep it in a safe location can save you time on future forms! And with financial business accounts, it’s much easier to delegate permissions!

Tasks That Involve Strict International Laws 

Our team is lucky enough to work with clients in several different parts of the world. And while this keeps things very exciting, it also means extra diligence  when it comes to International Laws. For example, one of our UK clients once asked his UK-based virtual assistant to organize for a parcel to be shipped from New York to Atlanta in the US. However, US Homeland Security has very strict shipping rules in place within the United States, which meant that domestic shipping can only be done when paid with a US-based method of payment. As it turns out this UK company also has a subsidiary in the US, so they were able to pay, but what if they hadn’t?

The same goes for shipping items to and from different countries, in assuring the items you are sending don’t break any customs rules of the country sending or receiving it. It’s sometimes best to handle these tasks yourself so that you can be the point of contact or representative in the case the items end up in customs limbo!

Overall Strategy Or Positioning, vs. Implementation

It’s important to be mindful of exactly what type of service you need for the particular stage of your project. For example, discern whether you actually need an overall strategy and plan made, or just help implementing a plan that’s already in place, whether that’s for marketing, finances, project management, etc. If you don’t have that strategy created yet, it’s best to consult a full-service agency or consulting firm specializing in your particular area of focus to get one in place. Once you have that plan, hire a virtual assistant to help you implement those different parts. If you bring your VA in at the wrong time, you both may be spinning your wheels on exactly where to start and what the overall vision for the outcome should be.

But obviously, there is so much you can delegate! Our most favorite list of items you absolutely should be delegating to your VA:

  • Marketing tasks (social media, newsletters, blog writing, etc.) 
  • Email management
  • Project management
  • Travel arrangements
  • Event planning details
  • Proofreading
  • Social media scheduling
  • Gift purchasing
  • Scheduling meetings
  • And if you have a premium virtual assistant, much much more!

Curious to learn more about delegating the items on your list?

Considering hiring a virtual assistant, but need help knowing exactly how to onboard them, so they can work to help you build your business — instead of just tackling tasks? Check out our Scale Your Small Business Guide, and find out how a virtual assistant can change the course of your company.

December 2022 Update: Times have changed, and Virtual Assistants with this level of expertise are now typically called Remote Executive Assistants.

Updated on December 12th, 2022

About the author: Audrey Fairbrother is the Marketing Manager here at Boldly, when she's not spreading information about the benefits and joys of a premium remote team, she enjoys drinking a good coffee or going for a run in her hometown of Denver, CO.