Being self-employed and running a business always involves tons of busywork.  You have paperwork to do, information to find, and plenty of emails to take care of.  All the time you spend on this busywork to keep your business running smoothly is time that could be spent on more productive things.  So how can you eliminate busywork?  It’s simple: pay someone to do it for you.

Virtual AssistantOutsourcing has a bad reputation, at least in America, because no one wants American jobs to be shipped overseas.  But outsourcing doesn’t have to imply Americans losing their jobs, and it’s much more common than you generally think.  What do you do with your trash?  Do you load it up in your car and take it to the dump?  No.  Most people outsource that task to garbage men.  You pay the garbage men to take your trash because you don’t want to spend your time doing that tedious, undesirable work.  The same thing applies to fixing a leak under the kitchen sink or doing yard work.  You could do these things yourself, but if you outsource them you can use your time to work on your business and make more money.  Outsourcing makes a lot of sense in these situations.

Outsourcing makes sense for other forms of busywork, too: creating brochures or other advertising for your business, shipping products to customers, researching topics on the Internet, making travel arrangements, answering customer service calls, writing content for and maintaining your website, and even handling your email inbox.  All these tasks can be done by virtual assistants to save you time to work on more important business matters.  Virtual assistants (VAs) are assistants that you can hire and interface with online.  Everything can be handled over the Internet.

In addition to saving time, here are a few other reasons that outsourcing makes sense:

  • Save money. Obviously you are going to have to pay for an assistant, but in the long run you will actually save money because with your extra time you can focus on higher-impact tasks, growing your business, and making more money.
  • Achieve higher quality. Depending on the task, you may want to outsource to a professional to get higher-quality results.  For example, I always hire a graphic designer when I need graphics or images for a website because I know the quality will be much better than if I had tried to make the graphics myself.
  • Learn new skills. Outsourcing has helped me learn several new business skills, such as managing assistants, delegating multiple tasks, writing instructions that are clear enough for others to follow, being stern with my expectations, and negotiating prices.

If you’re just starting out and getting your business going, you may not have enough money or even enough work yet to hire a virtual assistant.  As your business grows, though, you will spend more and more time on busywork.  Eventually you’ll have the money and the desire to hire an assistant so you can do the more important tasks for your business.

Here are a couple sites where you can hire virtual assistants:

For more information and advice about outsourcing, I recommend reading The 4-Hour Workweek and visiting Tyrone Shum’s blog at