Help! As I gear up to offer in-person workshops and webinars, it’s become clear: I need some help. But what kind of help? The tasks are myriad and sporadic. Then a friend mentioned, “Find a Virtual Assistant.”
After researching a bit, I concluded that a having Virtual Assistant (VA) would not only be a good idea for me, it also would be just the ticket for many of my friends who have ADHD—especially entrepreneurs. Then, a friend introduced me to a VA named Richard A. Green, who happens to specialize in working with clients who have ADHD. I asked him to write a brief explanatory piece, and he kindly agreed. Enjoy!
By Richard A. Green
Meet Marie. She’s a wiz in the kitchen! A few years ago, she even invented a new kitchen gadget and started a business to sell that along with her unique recipes.
As a person with ADHD, however, this solo entrepreneur struggles with:
- Getting organized
- Starting tasks
- Completing tasks
- Being on time
- Prioritizing tasks
For several months, Marie tried to run her entire business herself. In a short time she found herself always late shipping orders and responding to customer inquiries. As a result, she was losing orders and becoming increasingly overwhelmed. This stress served only to increase the severity of her ADHD symptoms—and make her wonder why she got into this mess in the first place! Her business was on the brink of bankruptcy when she hired a Virtual Assistant, or VA.
What Is A Virtual Assistant?
More than 50 percent of small businesses fail in the first five years. For entrepreneurs to be successful, they must pay close attention to their business. That means being organized, managing time well, and minding the details.
Yet, people with ADHD tend to struggle with activities they find uninteresting or repetitively monotonous. Consequently, they are tempted to place those tasks on the back burner.
To maximize their potential, it’s in the best interest of entrepreneurs with ADHD to focus on what they do best and leave the rest of the work to a support team. Yet, how do you have a team when you are a “solo-preneur”?
A Virtual Assistant (VA) can be an ideal resource to provide support to entrepreneurs. Simply defined, a virtual assistant is a person who works remotely from their own home office to provide professional administrative, technical, or creative assistance to clients.
Some of the things a VA can do include:
- Tasks the entrepreneur doesn’t like to perform (or doesn’t have the time!)
- Tasks entrepreneurs know they need to do but don’t seem to get around to
- Tasks that nonetheless need to be done in order to make their big ideas happen
A VA can also provide accountability for entrepreneurs—in whichever way they prefer—to ensure important deadlines are met. For example, one person might want daily check-ins via email. Another might want verbal reminders at the end of each day: “This is due tomorrow; how are you doing with it”? Another might want a daily To Do List reminder sent via email.
How a Virtual Assistant Helped Marie
To bring order to her chaos, Marie hired a Virtual Assistant to do the following tasks for her:
- Process and ship orders
- Respond to customer inquiries within 24 hours
- Purchase product components and related accessories
- Manage the offsite assembly team
- Manage company finances (using QuickBooks)
- Update her website as needed
- Create, edit, and schedule the monthly e-newsletter
- Manage her social media accounts
By taking the above tasks off her plate, Marie was able to:
- Restore order to her business
- Run her business efficiently
- Increase sales
- Have more time to focus on her true passion (creating recipes and experimenting with new kitchen gadgets)
- Have a better life—more time to spend with family and friends and more free time for herself
- Reduce stress
- Have peace of mind that her business was being run professionally
If it takes an entrepreneur with ADHD 3 hours to do a task, it may take a VA considerably less time (perhaps 45 minutes) to do the same task. Why? Because the entrepreneur might spend most of that time distracting herself from the task at hand, procrastinating, and so forth.
Marie makes more money by delegating to her VA the tasks she does not want to do and focusing on the activities that fueled her business. Even after the VA is paid, Marie is still ahead financially. Bonus: She doesn’t have to do the tasks she doesn’t want to do.
Other Benefits of Working With a VA
- No need to provide office supplies, equipment and space
- Virtual Assistants pay their own taxes and benefits
- No need for ongoing training of administration staff
- No need to advertise for and interview administration staff
- Fewer costs associated to projects – pay for time used only
- Fresh ideas and perspectives on management for your business
- Partnering with a professional whose success is based on your success
The Task of Delegation
It takes a bit of work to get to the point of effectively hiring a VA. It’s critical to understand exactly what you want to delegate and be able to communicate that clearly. That is a challenge for entrepreneurs in general. It is more so for many people with ADHD.
Here’s an easy way to determine which tasks you can delegate:
- Make a list of all of the tasks you perform in your business.
- From that list cross off all of the tasks only you can do—typically, those tasks related to income-producing activities and growing your business.
- What’s left on your list are the tasks you can delegate to a Virtual Assistant.
Virtual assistants are a great way to ease the workload of many busy professionals. They can help to keep things moving and reduce the stress of running a business while it grows. Freed-up time can be used in areas of the entrepreneur’s strengths.
If you’re an entrepreneur with ADHD, imagine how your personal life and business could be improved by hiring a VA. Wouldn’t it be a great relief not being bogged down with the tedious tasks that come with running a small business?
Are you ready to reap the benefits a Virtual Assistant can provide? If so, you can find plenty of sources online by searching for “virtual assistant”.
Richard Green brings 30 years of operations management experience to working with entrepreneurs and small business owners who have ADHD.
UPDATE: Richard tells me he has recently changed his work situation, and he is no longer offering his services as a VA. If you have resources that can help ADHD Roller Coaster readers identify a VA to help their business needs, please let me know. Thanks. Gina