Paul is an internationally experienced C-Level executive specialized in leading start-ups and complex business expansions. His career spans more than 25 years and five continents during which time he was privileged to have been instrumental in helping both entrepreneurs and multinational enterprises to realize their vision and achieve their business goals.
What drives and inspires Paul is working with people who can visualize what they want, are passionate about achieving it, and take action toward it. He’s a small business guru with the experience and determination to make your business a success.
What were you looking for in a VA?
- Organization and administration
- Sourcing and analyzing research data
- Help with presentations
- VAs in several time zones to have work done while he was asleep, in preparation for the following day
What inspired you to start hiring virtually?
Time is one of the most valuable resources we have. When a business customer buys from you it is because you will either make or save her time or make or save her money, preferably both.
In my business ventures we require multiple skill sets in short sharp bursts. Hiring a team of in-house staff straight up places a strain on cash-flow and failing to hire all of the right type of people places a limitation on what can be achieved; either that or I have to do more myself, and there is no leverage in that, thus no equity in it either.
I am the Chairman of a Business Incubator which until late 2012 was entirely virtual in the nature of the services we deliver. I also provide services as a coach, a mentor, and I participate on the advisory board of several companies. One of the questions I ask any business I become involved with is where is the leverage? Using the services of one or several virtual resources is about leverage. Yes you must hire the right ones for the right investment and you will also need to invest your time in them similar to how you would in-house staff, but the bottom line for the entrepreneur, business owner, or corporate leader doing the hiring is leverage.
Also hiring virtual resources makes budget allocation and costs reconciliation a breeze when you work with multiple clients and/or on multiple ventures/projects. You know upfront that the costs will match the budget and invoices are submitted based on activities which simplifies the back-end processes.
When did you start hiring virtual help?
I first hired virtual resources in 1995 when I was back and forth between New York and Europe. I had one in each time zone which allowed me to ensure work was being done while I slept, or whilst in transit, in preparation for the next day, respectively when I landed.
Apart from organization and administration tasks, virtual resources were also invaluable in sourcing and analyzing research data for various client projects. They would find the information I needed, analyze it and bundle it into a report I could then re-jig to what I wanted. I would then have another virtual resource ‘package’ it into a presentation so that it came across as if a major firm with huge budgets had put the presentation together. It never failed to impress.
I still have a several virtual resources that I work with, a couple are now dedicated to me and others are either a fixed number of hours per month or ad hoc.
What were some of the challenges? How did you overcome them?
The biggest challenge I found when first starting out was expectation management. I wasn’t prepared for the time investment that was required as I figured I was hiring an external consultant. For some tasks this can be true but others will require a work-in period, especially in the case of VA’s who become an extension of yourself.
Mechanical tasks can be brain-dumped to a professional expert in the field and based on clear instructions given you can rightly expect the task to be delivered as you envision it, or only with minor review necessary. With virtual resources that are more integrated with your day-to-day work you are forging a closer relationship and as with any such relationship you must be clear about what you expect, clear about how you want things done, and allow time for the person to make a few mistakes, provided he/she learns from them.
Overtime, the best way I found to overcome issues was to document what I wanted in various situations. Sort of like spelling out the ground rules and the standards I expect, as well as the way I see things happening and the processes I follow. Again this can be outsourced to virtual resources because none of us really like typing that much. Dictate what you want to say, send it off to have it transcribed then massage it into shape yourself and if you want send it off again to another virtual resource to have it packaged nicely if you haven’t already had a virtual resource create a corporate style-sheet for your document templates.
How has hiring virtually supported your business and you personally?
Hiring virtual resources increased the flexibility of the business to deliver services faster. It increases time to market for new services and it allows us to customize solutions for clients in less time and for less cost than before. Virtual resources also save time and streamline standard processes that require human intervention.
On a personal level this reduces the potential for stressful situations. Some people I know use virtual resources as a type of personal concierge service. In a way I have done this from time to time as well although it was never a specific intention.
If you could do it all over again, what would you do differently?
After many years of hiring virtual resources I believe I have the process well optimised. However the business landscape has changed since I first hired virtual resources and as with everything in business and life one must be prepared and willing to adapt.
For me this means that the things I do now to encourage greater productivity out of both virtual and in-house resources will be integrated into the future hiring process. One such aspect is common ground between the business goals and the personal goals and aspirations of the resource. This will aid better understanding of what drives them and allow better adaptation of tasks and work-flow for improved work-life integration (not work life balance) for both the virtual resource and myself.
For more information visit Paul’s website at www.paullange.com.au
Paul is an internationally experienced C-Level executive specialized in leading start-ups and complex business expansions.