Entrepreneur Bryan Lewis' virtual assistant not only helps him keep his personal life organized, but she has also become a vital part of his newest business venture - and one that can help many other virtual assistants in return! Learn more about Bryan's journey, his business, and why he calls his VA "Admeaganja” in this interview!
What were you struggling with in your business that led you to begin working with a virtual assistant?
In 2011 I downsized my development agency, Openmotive, to just myself, and embarked on what I'd hoped would be a more flexible, more mobile lifestyle.
Mobile? Yes. Flexible? Easier said than done. Now I had to not only re-school myself in coding and design so I could maintain our existing client base and take on new projects, but also keep up with all of the administrative tasks already on my plate. It quickly became necessary to find outside help for the personal and administrative side of things.
I’d had some experience in working with a VA before, so I knew what an asset one could be. Lucky for me, I was matched with Meagan, who skillfully manages me and much of my business to this day.
Tell us a little bit about what you have delegated and how you work together?
Meagan coordinates my personal and work scheduling, heads up our market research projects, keeps the office processes running smoothly, manages other contractors, prepares our weekly social media outreach, and rigorously tests our development work. (Whew! What a list!) But on top of all of those practical things, she’s a great sounding board for new ideas, writing copy, and giving feedback on what we are working on. There’s not much I do that isn’t sent to Meagan for review before going out.
We have a weekly call where we review the previous week’s progress, the schedule for the upcoming week, and all actions that need to happen. We also communicate daily as needed. From a practical standpoint, we utilize Google Hangouts, email, and Slack. From a personal standpoint, we are very loose and conversational, although we can get serious when we need to work through a long agenda in a tight time frame.
Last year, I gave Meagan the critical task of heading up a market research program for Adminja, our tool for Virtual Assistants. I wanted to create a tool to help Virtual Assistants more easily manage their workload, but I only had a vague idea of what that might mean in practical terms. I needed insight from the inside to gain that perspective.
Meagan's experience and relationships within the VA community, along with her creative ideas, enthusiasm and personal outreach, helped us to get in touch with a wide variety of VAs. Thanks to Meagan’s efforts we were able to schedule a series of talks with solo VAs, teams, newbies and thought leaders to dive deep into the VA experience. What would have normally taken me a year on my own took only 3-4 months because of Meagan. Her research project was key in defining Adminja and our new business purpose.
How has working with a virtual assistant supported your business, and you personally?
I honestly can’t count the ways that Meagan supports me. Meagan plays a huge part in keeping my personal life running smoothly, from coordinating my travel, to scheduling dog groomers, building contractors, and doctor’s appointments. I know that to have a stress-free week, I need to follow faithfully whatever Meagan has on my agenda. 🙂
The biggest benefit, however, is knowing that I’ll always have someone at my side who I trust implicitly if an emergency arises. Even though I may only have a couple of urgent situations a year, I don’t have to worry about the unexpected anymore. Someone’s got my back now.
From a business perspective, I simply wouldn’t have one anymore if I hadn’t decided to work with a Virtual Assistant. My development business couldn’t function without the administrative support that Meagan provides, and the entire Adminja project wouldn’t have been possible without her inspiration, coordination, and quality testing. I’ve even started calling her “Admeaganja” in jest.
What differences have you noticed in your business since you began working with a virtual assistant?
Now I’m able to focus on my work. It really is that simple. Meagan runs the repeatable office processes, manages my schedule, and fields the Adminja communications like clockwork. I am able to set my concerns and worries aside and get more work done. Less stress + more work done = the right decision in my book.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs seeking virtual assistants?
1) Get to know your Virtual Assistant and let them get to know you…very well. Yes, it may feel a little too personal, but you’d be surprised at how more intuitively someone can help you if they can anticipate not only your needs, but your failures as well. Only then can they meet the former while mitigating the latter. If they don’t understand the full context of the task you have given them, they won’t have the insight to protect you from your own mistakes.
2) Practice letting go and delegating. Seriously, PRACTICE. Make up silly tasks if you have to, anything to get started. It won’t happen overnight, it might cause some anxiety at first, and it’s best to take it in baby steps. But as the steps get bigger and more complex and the trust deepens and grows, you’ll be able to delegate more and more, confident that you will get quality results in return.
Want to learn more about Bryan and his business? Visit his website here.
Looking to hire your own virtual assistant? Start here!
Bryan Lewis is an accidental entrepreneur who has been launching online solutions since the mid-nineties. Bryan spent his early career in Chicago working for a series of marketing agencies before founding his own web development studio, Openmotive, in 2006. Recently Bryan has turned his attention to finding ways to make Virtual Assistant’s lives easier. His new service for Virtual Assistants, Adminja, is launching later this month. Bryan lives in Estero, Florida and Chicago, Illinois. Keep up with Bryan via his Facebook and Twitter!