12 Mar

Got The Small Business Blues? Get Some Help For Goodness Sake!

Virtual assistant helping counselor run her business.

It’s not as hard or as expensive as you think…

As a coach for small businesses and entrepreneurs, one of the biggest drains on progress is the never-ending feeling of being overwhelmed. There’s too much to do, not enough hours in the day, and certainly not enough creativity to make it all happen.

On one hand, you can get mired down with those thoughts. It can slow your growth even when you’re not actively thinking about it because you don’t have a plan to fix it. Or, you can change your circumstances. What you can’t do is escape the requirement of doing it all.

If you want to be successful, it’s not an option to lay down and cry uncle, unless of course, you’re ready to change your goals or reduce your demands on your progress.

As a trained therapist, with clinical training + 20 years in the business space working for healers, I know the pain you feel is in direct proportion to the pressure you put on yourself to succeed.

Demanding that you make more happen with your precious hours in the day is an exercise in futility. Can you benefit from some time management, reducing your chronic multitasking, and decluttering? Sure you can. But once all of those exercises are done and you’re still left with a lengthy to-do list, that too can feel overwhelming.

So how can you get it all done? Get some help.

If you want to stop feeling bad, you have two choices: change your expectations or change how you operate your business so you can realistically strive for more.

When you have big goals, whether they’re financial goals, change-your-life goals, expanding your practice goals or even legacy goals, you have to have a plan. Rarely do people stumble on success. Success is a mindset + actions plan.

To get where you want to go, you need to change your thinking.

Perhaps not all that surprising is the reality that when you have help in your corner, your mind opens up to different possibilities. When you give yourself increased time to think and ideate, often that’s all that’s required to see the pathway forward. Suddenly goals that seemed insurmountable come into focus.

It’s undeniable that the world needs healers. The question is, will you do the work to make yourself accessible to those people who need your help?

What kind of help is available?

The two most common sources of assistance available online are virtual assistants and interns. Interns and VA’s have very different roles and each comes with their own set of perks.

Virtual Assistants

VA’s (virtual assistants) are hired by you and either paid an hourly rate or paid as a salaried employee. If they’re paid an hourly rate, usually they are a 1099 employee (we’re not accountants or lawyers, best to follow the tax guidelines in your state). The work is often open-ended and can evolve as your needs open up.

VA’s can also be hired to work on a project basis if you have a clear or singular project for which you need assistance. Often, in this case, they do not refer to themselves as VA’s but with the title of the project. Someone like a ghostwriter comes to mind in this scenario.


Interns, on the other hand, may or may not be paid. But, they always require learning a skill that was paid to them in exchange for their time on the project. Often, interns are time limited and most are either in college or returning to the workforce after some time off and want to add something specific to their resume.

Interns always have a specific reason or need for working with you that goes beyond simply being paid. Part of your commitment to an intern will be to train/teach them whatever that is so when their internship is over, they can walk away with a new skill they learned from their time with you.

Let’s start with who you can hire to help you.

Here there are many options, maybe even more than you have considered before. Some common areas small business owners get help with include the following:

  • Social media marketing
  • General research
  • Respond to your emails
  • Schedule appointments
  • Transcriptions
  • Powerpoint or other presentation materials
  • Post blog posts
  • Create and send out your newsletter
  • Guest blogging opportunities on other websites
  • Ghostwriting which can include: articles, webinars, books, e-books, newsletters, marketing flyers/copy, web copy, and more.
  • Google analytics and other online tools
  • Paid ad campaigns on sites like Facebook, Instagram, Amazon, Bing or Google
  • Book you at events, on podcasts, radio appearances
  • SEO (search engine optimization) for your webpages and your content/articles
  • Bookkeeping/QuickBooks

This list is quite lengthy and there are talented people to be found online who can help with all of these tasks. The question you have to ask yourself is what do you need help or support with the most?

When I work with clients, often we discover there are a handful of areas in their business that they alone must manage. Usually, those are ones that you can’t get your head around how to train or share your ideas/beliefs with someone to act on your behalf. Writing often falls in this bucket, as does anything where you have to be the expert in the room.

Almost everything else can be delegated provided you take the time to train the person to support you as you want them to.

How to decide who to hire or contract with for help

As you consider the list of options, ask yourself this question: what do you want your VA/intern to do? If you start with a basic list in mind, you can begin to isolate who is a good match for your business. Rarely is this a completely independent project, so in your considerations, think about the time you will spend managing your VA or intern.

Very likely you will end up spending time preparing so your helper can be productive with the time you’re paying them for. Here an ounce of prevention IS worth a pound of cure. The better prepared you are with the basics, the more you will get done and the happier you will be.

Write out the list of tasks

Before you formally begin with your VA or intern, write out what you want them to do. Keep it brief but clear so you know the tasks in front of them. If you have examples of people whose work you like, show that to them. The clearer you are with your request, the better the chance someone has of making you happy.

This exercise will cause you to consider the amount of time each task will take so you can move into the next part, budgeting.

What’s your budget?

Budget is more than money, it’s also your time. VA’s and interns require management. Rarely can you give someone a project and expect that they will execute on it to your standards without some oversight. The more you have written out for project requirements, the better, but it will still require check-ins and review.

How do you want to be communicated with, how often, and in what way?

Ideally, you want a relationship with your helper where there is mutual trust and agreement. That doesn’t happen overnight. To build it, you need to think clearly about communication and what you personally require to feel (notice I didn’t say believe or think) like you can trust the person to do this work?

Consider things like reporting, deliverables, invoicing, and any other communication you need to feel like you have a handle on their work and what you’re paying for in terms of their time.

Generally speaking, figuring out what you require in order to trust someone isn’t an easy question to answer. Trust is built on a track record and everyone, including you, has their own history with trusting strangers to do what is being asked.

Perhaps you have very little experience here. In that case, just know that your job is to manage your VA or intern so that nothing publishes online or in the real world with your name or brand on it that you do not agree with.

  • You may want to see and review everything before it goes live.
  • You may want to review everything before it sends or goes in the mail.
  • You may want to read everything before it’s released or printed on a flyer.
  • Whatever you need is ok. You just need to communicate it.

And if you’re not new to work like this, you may have hired many people in the past who let you down. Set your new VA or intern up for success by teaching them what you need to see or read and at what frequency so you have less to worry about and so they can earn your trust.

It’s in everyone’s best interest to spend some time working on trust building in the beginning so as you loosen the reins, they can do more and you can rest assured they are doing it to your satisfaction.

Just don’t take your eye off the ball. Even the most trusted VA, intern, or employee needs management. It’s your reputation that is on the line. Attending to this weekly is important.

What to do when it’s not working

Most VA’s and interns are receptive to communication about falling short of expectations and missed goals or deliverables. They work at your behest and if you find that it absolutely isn’t working, it’s important that you share your frustration in a constructive and clear manner. If your intent is to end the relationship and move on to someone new, tell them.

In that discussion (which can be done in writing to document your decision and plans) be sure to clarify whatever you need from them for final closure. That may include the return of certain things before you can send a final payment, like keys for example.

Pay final invoices on time and allow that person to move on.

Once your decision is made it is also wise to change all passwords or access that person has to sensitive material like your social media or website logins. Eliminate your own worries by taking care of all vulnerable areas right away so you’re not at risk for something nefarious down the road.

Ready to look? Where can you find people?

There are many places to look online, here are a few we have reviewed and worked with previously.

  • NOTE- Elance is now upwork.com
  • Upwork.com– offers VA’s at project/hourly basis
  • Glassdoor.com– offers salary based VA’s + internships
  • Linkedin.com– offers salary and project/hourly + internships
  • Taskseveryday.com– U.S., India and Philippines and offers VA’s at project/hourly basis
  • Guru.com– offers VA’s at project/hourly basis
  • Internships.com– internships only
  • Wayup.com – entry-level salary based + internships

What do they cost?

There’s a lot of room here. And often, the best VA’s go for a premium. But keep in mind that premium packages often come with great experience. Here’s a running list of what we saw online for fees and also from contractors we have relationships with currently.

  • VA in the US- $20-50 per hour for general tasks
  • Internships – 3-4 months of work, generally 20-25 hours a week for a stipend or class credit (talk to the internship site or university/college for preference and specific requirements)
  • Ghostwriting articles – $100-$400 per piece (doesn’t include SEO usually)
  • Ghostwriting book proposal – $4k-6K
  • Ghostwriting book/manuscript – $25K +

As you work on growing your business, it’s important to consider your mental health and getting help is often on this list. There are many tasks you need to do that don’t have to fall squarely on your plate to accomplish. Delegating work takes a fraction of the time it would take to actually do the job yourself.

As a small business coach for almost 20 years, all of my clients who are super accomplished do it with help. The team is what makes growth possible.

Need support finding someone to help you or simply need to clear out the cobwebs of having too much to do without a clear direction? We can help. Request a free consultation from our team today or email me privately at melanie@yourtango.com to set a time to talk.