EP 006: When Valuing Yourself as a Solopreneur Means Hiring Help

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Author, speaker, entrepreneur, and thought leader Nilofer Merchant is passionate about the benefits that hiring a virtual assistant can provide to solopreneurs. For Nilofer, it’s about more than knowing your flight itinerary is correct and a car will be waiting for you at the airport. It’s bigger than waking up to a tidy inbox with only the emails you want to see. Yes, those are some of the tangible benefits of hiring a virtual assistant, but Nilofer sees even deeper value.

Like many solopreneurs, Nilofer faced a chaotic inbox each day before hiring a virtual assistant.  She often found herself struggling to book meetings across time zones and felt defeated by her lack of interest in sweating the fiddly details. She knew those details mattered, but she also knew she wasn’t the person best suited to handle them.

Nilofer recalls that being tasked with handling those administrative bits took an outsize toll on her psyche. Because she dreaded them, she let them take up major real estate in her mind. She’d push them to the end of the week, which only made facing them worse.

Finally, she took the plunge and hired a virtual assistant—but it was not smooth sailing from day one. Her first two VAs lacked a willingness to listen to her needs. After these failed attempts, Nilofer ended up partnering with a Don’t Panic Management assistant.

She admits she was a bit gun-shy at the start. However, after investing in training and building trust, her relationship with her VA blossomed. Now, Nilofer can’t imagine life without her.

Nilofer jokes that, early on in working with a VA, she mused aloud, “Do I really need to keep this assistant? Maybe I can go back to doing things on my own.”

Her husband piped in, “No, you need an assistant.” He could see the difference waking up to a clear inbox made in her day. Starting the morning off with her agenda items setting the tone, rather than dealing with dozens of requests from outside parties, changed Nilofer’s professional and personal outlook.

She thinks of her relationship with her VA as a partnership and likens it to a marriage. Beyond the administrative tasks, she values her VA’s input. Nilofer will ask for her VA’s read on a frustrating email exchange, and her VA will provide wise counsel on how to move forward.

Of course, Nilofer understands that taking the leap to hire a VA in the first place can be difficult. To those who are hesitant, Nilofer says that the secret to taking that step is valuing yourself enough to ask for help. And, she notes, making the decision to bring a VA on board opens you up to a world of new possibilities. “Until you learn to value yourself, you can’t offer your highest value to the world,” she says.

Amen to that.

Key Takeaways

  • Working with a VA allows greater consistency in your work. You set the rules of engagement, and you pass them off to your VA to execute with consistency.
  • By having a VA help manage communications, Nilofer’s day is now completely within her control. It’s driven by her agenda, rather than the competing priorities of others that appear in her inbox.
  • Many entrepreneurs enjoy being in service to others, and hiring a VA may seem antithetical to that. But when you hire help, you can then engage with people on a deeper level and offer your highest value to the world.

Top Quotes

“I’m not taking agendas from other people now. My day is set by the things I believe are the most important.” – @Nilofer Merchant on the power of hiring an #VA #admin Share on X “The gap between strategy and execution is your ability to stay on-point to your own [agenda].” – @Nilofer Merchant on the link between hiring an #admin and achieving your #goals Share on X “Value yourself enough to ask for help.” – @Nilofer Merchant on the key to making the decision to hire a #VA Share on X

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