My first business failed.
It's as simple as that. My first business failed because I tried to do everything myself. I didn't take time to attend to basic building principles once the organization was off the ground because there was no time to "take" from. Every email, every post, every search, document, update to the database, newsletter, phone call, event, meeting, and new social media profile… every single thing I personally attacked. Until finally, I burned out, and my business drifted away.
When I first began the process, I was excited. I woke up every morning and turned on all of my technology. I checked my threads and feeds and the notes I'd made in the middle of the night on the pad I kept by my bed. I worked for 14, 16, 20 hours at a time, stretched during webinars, drank way too much coffee, and lived on the adrenaline rush of connecting the dots. I drafted, proofed, read, cold called, and sometimes stalked people – and it was energizing! I could see day to day the progress I'd made. I'd measure it by the ticks on my checklist and the reach of my tweets. It was heady, and I wanted more. Endlessly more.
By the time I'd had my organization up and running for a year, I was invited to provide feedback on a White House health initiative, and I was riding beyond high! I felt as though I'd made it to the leadership circle, and it was because I was good at projects and policy, but I was even better at administrative and business planning.
What I didn't realize was, because I had succeeded, I almost immediately allowed myself to fail. I foolishly didn't see, or even register, the big picture so I didn't prioritize my time and engage the services of a professional virtual assistant. I didn't free myself up to manage my process; instead I micro-managed the tasks. And then I stopped planning and progressing because I simply didn't have the time to grow, and eventually not the energy.
I wish I hired a virtual assistant because in not doing so, I wasted crucial, valuable, time. Both my own at the moment, and my own on the life continuum.
Now, I've built a business around using the same skills that allowed me to succeed years ago. I also have a perspective and experience to share. These days I ask potential clients about the valuable time they waste by not delegating their administrative work, and I get one of two reactions. Either they have to do a quick mental calculation and stand there momentarily stunned; or they immediately say, "I already know, and that's why I need you."
For the former, we discuss their goals and how their time is currently allotted. We dive deep talking about how they could spend more time actually taking steps forward, rather than supporting the work it takes to make those steps possible. For the latter, they usually have a pretty good idea what they want to take off their plate so we can talk about process, scope and assess whether or not we'll be able to accelerate their plan – together.
I'm glad to have learned so much from my previous business experience, and I'm even more delighted that I get to do work that I love. But, and this is a big caveat, had I hired the right virtual assistant in the first place, my career would have taken me anywhere I wanted it to go.