I love days that feel productive. When I’ve knocked 7 items off my to-do list, or cleared out a backlog of emails, or organized my workweek all before 8am, I feel like an entrepreneurial giant.

But sometimes I feel productive, even when what I’m really doing is wasting time.

The Time Wasters in Your Day

Running any business is a juggling act. You have financial records to organize and maintain, people and projects to manage, marketing to attend to, and products to create. Email and meetings and phone calls eat up time, and you probably have a life to attend to as well.

You can’t afford to waste time, but that’s just what a lot of small business owners do. You probably don’t mean to, but if you’re making any of these big mistakes, you very likely are.

Playing the “Know it All”

How much of your day-to-day business operations exist only in your head? Most of it, if you’re like most small business owners. It happens naturally, after all. As you’re building your business, every new day brings another task or project that you have to figure out. It takes time to work out the details of how you want your files managed, and what goes into a new product setup.

By the time you get all that worked out to your satisfaction, you’re busy. You’re creating lots of blog posts and new products and producing webinars and handling social media marketing, and you just don’t have time to write all that down.

Here’s why that’s costing you time (and money). Not only are you unable to easily outsource the tasks only you know how to do, but when you do decide to hand them off, you’ll spend a lot more time training your assistant. Even if you never decide to outsource a task, when all the instructions are in your head rather than on a checklist, it takes more time to complete your work, and you’re more prone to making mistakes.

A client of mine recently learned this lesson when she put a new product up for sale. Relying on memory to set up the shopping cart, she configured everything and started selling. Unfortunately, one wrong click in the cart resulted in a completely different item (and a more expensive one to boot) being given away to every buyer.

Write out your checklists and keep them handy, then every time you need to complete a task, you’ll know exactly what needs to be done. Better still, you can easily hand those checklists off to a virtual assistant.

Being a Professional Student

Marketing, technology, sales techniques, social media…it seems like there’s always something new to learn. In fact, you could easily spend your entire work day reading blogs, watching webinars, and listening to podcasts. And while it’s important to your business growth to keep informed about new ideas, it’s also really easy to mistake continuing education for productive work.

So what can you do instead?

  • File it for later. Chances are you don’t need to know how to sell from a webinar, create a video course, and run Facebook ads all this week. But you might need to know those things later, so save the links in Evernote or another trusted system, and get on with your day. When you need the information, you’ll know where to find it.
  • Hire an expert. Richard Branson probably doesn’t spend his days studying electrical schematics for Boeing 747s. Sure, his planes need maintenance, but rather than trying to learn all that himself, he relies on other experts. If there are tasks you don’t want to do or don’t have the time to learn, hire someone who does have that knowledge.

Running a One-Man (or Woman) Show

Sure, I get it. Richard Branson isn’t a “solo” preneur. He’s running a real company, not an online biz. He’s not watching every penny while he tries to build a sustainable income from his home office.

But it’s just that kind of thinking that is causing you to waste time and money.

You don’t have to (and should not) do everything yourself.

You don’t have to (and should not) be working 18 hours a day just to get things done.

“Chief cook and bottle washer” is not a badge of honor. It’s a recipe for disaster.

Doing everything yourself might seem like a great money-saving strategy, but the reality is you’ll make mistakes, you’ll burn out, and you’ll hit an income cap you won’t be able to overcome.

The better option? Get help. Hand off those tasks you aren’t good at (a skilled VA will be faster), don’t like to do (procrastination is a huge time-waster), or that pull you away from money-making work.

While hiring a virtual assistant might seem like an expense, the time saved and mistakes prevented can easily provide a significant return on your investment.

Ready to get started with a virtual assistant? Schedule a free consultation today .