The Virtual CPA Success Show for Creative Agencies

Delegation Tips with Emily Morgan from Delegate Solutions

Episode Summary

There is a lot that goes into running a business, and small businesses can benefit greatly from delegating their extra admin tasks. But it can be difficult to let go of some of the work, so today we are sitting down with Emily Morgan of Delegate Solutions. We have been working with this company for a couple of years, and it has made a huge difference to have someone take care of our admin tasks. Delegate Solutions focuses on helping entrepreneurs create more time and leverage in their day, so that is what we are talking about on the show today.

Episode Notes


“We need to be committed to the boring stuff in our business because it is the backbone of how everything runs.” - Emily Morgan 


The finer details of this episode 


Episode resources

Episode Transcription

Jamie Nau: Hello, welcome to today's podcast. Today, I am super excited about our guest, Emily Morgan from Delegate Solutions. They are a company that we have been working with now for a couple of years. I know me personally as a director at Summit, it's made a huge difference in my job. Having someone that's in the administrative space really helps with a lot of the delegation, and doing those administrative tasks for me on a day to day basis. And as we go through this podcast, I will definitely throw some examples out there of things that have really helped me. But I'm really excited to hear Emily talk about her background as well as her business. So welcome to the show Emily. Why don’t you start off by giving us just your background.

Emily Morgan: Thank you. So we're a 13 year old company, and it was started by me when I was helping my son. I have a background in administrative work. I had always done that for a career and realized I didn't want to deal with the commute and managing a young child. So kind of came up with an awareness about the virtual assistant industry, and realized I could do this work from home while taking care of my son. So it started with just me for a number of years and sort of grew and grew and grew. And now we have about 40 team members all across the US. The majority of them are mothers with children, or they're caring for aging parents, and they really value the flex work that we offer. But also we make an impact in the work that we do with entrepreneurs. So it's a unique kind of offering that we have.

Jamie Nau: Awesome. Yes, I know the big thing for most business owners is giving things up. It's a very hard thing to do, to pass things on. So I think that's what I'd love to spend time talking about today is what are the tips you have for people that are owning a small business, and are attempting to giving things over to an administrative assistant, especially an outsourced administrative assistant like you. So I'd love for you to walk through that with us and really just kind of give us five, six, seven, whatever the number is, of items that you think that people need to commit to in order to really make this work. Because like I said, I know it's worked wonders for me and it's really freed me up to do more of the things that I really want to do, and that I think are more valuable for me here at Summit. So I'd love for you to kind of walk us through that. 

Adam Hale: Yeah because Jamie really sucked at it. So thank you. Your team has been very helpful. 

All: Laughing [in audible]

Adam Hale: No, he’s great. He's always bragging all the time about how your team kind of help him sort through his emails and everything else. I mean, there's just so much noise these days. I mean, if you just turn off all of your electronics for a couple of days, and then you turn it back on, you just get enamored with all kinds of things. And most of its junk and most of it is noise. But being able to quickly get through that and be ready to go. I think, Jamie, you mentioned that was like one of your big things. And I know a lot of our CFOs have also started doing the same thing, and they talk very highly of it. But we've also been just finding different areas where you've helped us out, your team. I mean that skill of just being really good at the details, and having somebody that can kind of pick up those crumbs really makes a big difference for us. Because, you know, another example is I know the auditing department in our sales process. There's a couple of things that need a human touch. We can't completely automate them. And so by having your team kind of interject themselves in that sales process, in that follow up, it's not necessarily anything we needed from a technical standpoint. We just needed some warm touches. That's been a big help for us all the way over to our marketing director also using the service. Very similar to how Jamie is, just with a lot of very specific administrative tasks. And it's saved us a ton of time. And that's really put us in a good spot to do our do our thing.

Emily Morgan: So I love hearing those things work for a long time. And similarly, you guys are our virtual CFOs and it's been a game changer for us as well. So thank you for the partnership. But at Delegate Solutions, we're a premium virtual system firm. We work only with entrepreneurs, and we're really industry agnostic for the most part. But we're really focused on helping people create more time and leverage in their day. So it's all about figuring out not only being a delegation resource like someone that you can ask to do X, Y or Z, but it's about helping them figure out what and how to delegate, because that's where progress comes from. So, like just delegating tasks, you'll feel a little bit of impact. But when you have a partner that can help you put a delegation strategy together that's really tied to your goals and priorities like looking at all the repeatable things that you're doing within the business. How can we capture those and turn them into a process, and make them delegable. It’s a different way of working with clients the way that we approach our service.

Adam Hale: Yeah, I think that's a great point, because you're right, a lot of people just don't know where to start and they're scared to give up. I mean, just specifically in our industry, in the accounting industry, we're known for hoarding work because we're afraid of letting go. But it's also one of those things where you're not exactly sure how far to go. So if your team is able to kind of work with us and put that stuff together, that's always a huge help too I think, for just getting started.

Jamie Nau: I think the biggest thing for me, and Adam you mentioned this and I know he made it as a joke, but I feel like every job I ever had in my career my review always came back with, you're not very good at the administrative stuff. And that's just always who I was. Like expense reports, I always turned those in late and just things like that. That just drove me a little crazy. My email, I'd fall behind on that. And so I think that whenever I have a to-do list, anything that's administrative in nature just falls to the bottom. It's just the way it is if I don't enjoy doing it. So I'm not good at it. And so I think having that relief of, oh I don't need to do that. I can just hand it over to my Delegate Solution person, for me it's made things so much better. And I think that it's made me better at my job because like I said, that has always been my weakness. Doing the administrative stuff. So it’s been very helpful for me.

Emily Morgan: Yeah, and our team has a heart for admin. It is what inspires us. I think a lot of people, specifically entrepreneurs are like, who wants to do this kind of stuff? Who wants to do that? But there's people out there that love this work. Like my team would tell you, we love to be behind the scenes. They enjoy helping people make an impact. And we're able to do that because we're going to bring the follow through and the attention to detail and this sort of prescriptive way that we work with clients to help you be more impactful with what you're trying to do in your work.

Jamie Nau: And it shows too. I think the other part of it that's funny to me is I've really been pushing you guys on our CFOs. I was like, you guys have to use Delegate. And I think oftentimes they feel bad like, why would I give my stuff to someone else? Or even, and we'll go down this road in a little bit, but like some of the personal stuff you do for me. Like, you know, one of the things that my Delegate person does is if I need to make an oil change appointment I just put it on a to-do list and she does it for me. And it's like, I could tell you the looks I get from our CFOs when I tell them I have you guys doing that for me. Like really? Why in the world? Well, that's what we pay them for. It’s part of their job, and it frees me up. I don’t have to think about all day that I have to make an oil change appointment. And so I'll tell you a lot of it is like, really? I don’t want to give that up.

Adam Hale: We know that he has some help because his spelling has improved, just saying. Like his grammar has gotten a lot better.

All: Laughing [in audible]

Emily Morgan: Supporting on the personal side is a huge part of what we do, because it's such a blend. Especially now like we're all working from home, and there's just no more boundaries with work. So personal, identifying personal tasks is a huge part of how we support clients.

Jamie Nau: Yeah, it's amazing for sure. So if I'm an entrepreneur, and I'm listening to this podcast, there are probably are some things that I want to move over. Where would I start? What do you have for me?

Emily Morgan: Yeah. So I think first of all, start small. So you don't want to just delegate a huge thing and it implodes, and you break all trust and ambition around delegation. So what can you do to compartmentalize larger things into smaller parts? So for example, like if I say to you, we will handle your scheduling. You feel scare, right? But if I say, let's come up with a way to automate sales meetings for you so that we're giving you a little bit of time back, that’s better. We baby step into more large scale schedule ownership, which gatekeeper's scheduling is a huge part of what we do. It's really where you're going to get the most time out of. So I think, start small, build confidence in the delegation process as a first step.

Adam Hale: Start with oil changes now.

All: Laughing [in audible]

Jamie Nau: I think just to tie this to my story a little bit, so when I started working with Delegate, the first thing I did was give my email over and I didn't fully give it over. I came up with like, you know I sat down with the Delegate person I work with and basically said, okay, I eventually want you to do more but let's just start with you filing away these certain types of emails. So it started very small. I think starting small with an individual tasks helps you build that confidence up. And then I think the other thing that a Delegate person does really well is you guys do this for a lot of people. So you also bring ideas to the table. Like I can say I need help with my email, and then you guys say, what we can do is we can start with ABC and eventually ABC can turn to A – Z of all the things you're doing with my email. So I think that starting small works really well for me because like I said, it was very simple at first and now it's much more complex. And it's probably like a ten step process that you go through every day for me. But it started as just one or two steps, and I definitely agree with that. That helped me a ton. 

Adam Hale: I think that consistency is key too. I mean, the thing is, it's like we just get lost in the world wind like most entrepreneurs do and then, you know, just being able to always rely on that person to have that part done really makes things go a lot easier to start your day off.

Emily Morgan: And the idea that I would sort of plan, is you really have to have the mindset to just let it go, because you reach a level of complexity where you simply run out of time. And so then you start to think about, well, how much of my time is actually worth? And if your time is worth $250 an hour, you know, and you're making your own oil change, you can pay someone $50, $60 an hour to handle those types of activities for you. And I think it's important that, you know, when you're trying to think about what to delegate, we actually have a download of tasks by category as a brainstorming tool. But look at what you're doing each day that's repeatable, because if we can identify some repeatable we can build process around those to take them off your plate. So any time you see yourself doing your expense reports, or whatever the personal task is that every single week you have to do it that's an easy place to start by delegating.

Adam Hale: Yeah, you nailed it. I think that's exactly right. I mean, we talk about it all the time, whether it's your production people, admin, anything that's repeatable should be delegated. You know, that's where you should always go. So it's great. And I'm glad Jamie didn't break into song here. He heard let it go and I was like oh, you're going to get him all worked up and start hearing some tunes from Frozen. 

Jamie Nau: Yeah no, I think the other thing too that I think goes along with that a little bit is pushing stuff towards me. And so oftentimes like you kind of have to create stuff like, you know, one of the things that I work with Delegate on is there's some reports that I want to see every week. And, you know, one of the things we originally did is we just put it on a Google sheet and I'll go check it every Friday. And oftentimes it would be two, three, four weeks before I would go check that. And I wonder how this is doing. And what I rely on Delegate for is to push stuff to me. And even if it's the same message saying, hey, Jamie, this report's been updated. You might want to go check the it out. or just something like that. I can go and do it. It's things that, you know, you may not be doing already, but you thought it would be really nice if I could do that on a weekly basis. That's the other thing, not just looking for those tasks that you're already doing, but something that you kind of think would really help with your job, and just pushing that over time to a Delegate Solutions as well.

Adam Hale: And I think it feels a little different than when it's just an automated reminder, or something like that. Like whenever it comes from someone you're a little bit more in tune to be like, you know, hey, I need to check this. You know, somebody is taking time out of their day to build this for me. So I need to do it. If it gets automated sometimes you just turn those off, you know, it's like an alarm clock or something. So that's been helpful for us as well.


Emily Morgan: Yeah, we do a ton of work with accountability management, whether it's just for the entrepreneur or the leader, but also for the team. So if you run on EOS for example, and there's to-do’s coming out of meetings, having a way to follow up with people so that the leaders are not the ones having to leave brain space in there to remember to do that.

Jamie Nau: So once I've built the confidence up and I’m able to let go, what else should I be doing in order to be comfortable with the moving stuff over?

Emily Morgan: Yeah, I think another trick that we try to promote is really getting comfortable with 80%. So, you know, and that can go a couple of different ways. One, it can mean is this going to be good enough if it's done 80% as well as I would do it? That's one way to take that. But it's also about can someone get this 80% of the way done, just get it started for me so that when I come in all I'm doing is my 20%. So like for example, let's say it's a newsletter. So with Georgia and I, we have a monthly big newsletter that goes out. Rather than like me having to trigger her to do that, we have a template around how we get that out. She puts it all together and then I just simply come in and write my little article and we’re done. And that's how we get stuff done. It’s that mindset of like, just get it 80% of the way for me.

Adam Hale: I think I'd be happy with 10%. I mean these are all great tips for any kind of delegation for sure. It's always say I step into someone's office and just drop anchor because I need to pull somebody else in with me in order for it to be done, and it kind of sucks whenever you have two people that are kind of the same way, moving different directions. So, again, having that consistent force that's like kind of anchored in and giving you that and being okay with the fact that it's not like perfect. I think that's another struggle that people have whenever they delegate anything, especially if it's like work, work, like production work going to the end user. They're probably a little bit more forgiving on the administrative side, but maybe not. I mean, I don't know. You probably hear it there, too. But yeah, people just have to get used to being like most of the way is great. Like, I can pick up little pieces and carry to the finish line, but getting started is always the hardest part.

Emily Morgan: Yeah, like I'll even use that if I'm like avoiding something that I wanted, that I know I need to get done. Like I need to write this article or something like that, I'll have Georgia just get it set up for me, put a time block on my calendar, a link to whatever I need to see, and then it's like I got to get it done. So it helps you actually make progress on stuff too. 

Jamie Nau: It sounds like we have another 80/20 rule, and that's the funny thing is there's so many of the 80/20 rules. I think it's just in our podcast we have talked about like four, but sounds like we have another one now.

Adam Hale: We are just trying to get everybody used to perfection is your worst enemy. Like, let it go. 

Emily Morgan: You know, from there, it's really important that you have really strong communication with whoever you're delegating to and with. So we use a lot of strategic coach tools. Two big ones that are really important with this point is an impact filter. Which is a really great way for a leader to download their ideas around success criteria around the project they're trying to hand off. So we will prompt clients when they're like hey, I really want to do this. It's a gut check for the client around urgency and priority with the importance of that project. But if and when they decide it is important, you're giving your delegation everything they need to get that going for you because you're identifying the success criteria around what success looks like. You're agreeing on who is doing what by when, which is another important part of delegation. But then also, like as you're going through delegating on a larger scale thing, communicating back and forth is important. The other strategic coach tool is called an experienced transformer. So when things are done, what worked, what didn't, what can we do better next time, is sort of built into how we approach these larger projects.

Adam Hale: What about just like the I mean, I know how it works for us, but what about whenever it's just kind of more day to day, week to week kind of stuff? What's a typical cadence look like in communication for most of your other clients?

Emily Morgan: Yeah, our team, if we're working with you one or two hours a day, the team is checking and moving things forward for you about three times a day. So you may hear from them across the day like the service is designed. So it's not just like 10 to 11 we are working, but it's like 15 minutes, 30 minutes at the end of the day. So I think for delegation to work well, you have to commit to being responsive. We hold weekly planning and accountability calls with clients, and that's really where a lot of those deeper conversations happen around priorities and project status, stuff like that.

Adam Hale: Okay, so at least the weekly touch. 

Emily Morgan: Definitely a weekly meeting if you're doing anything more than very basic stuff. 

Jamie Nau: And I find that the communication is two ways as well. How it works for me is I have One Note that I share with my delegate employee. And basically it's in there. I have one section where I'm just taking notes on feedback, and they take notes for feedback on me as well. So oftentimes I'll think of something like, you know, this is something else I can add to their to-do list for me, and I'll just itemize in there. But oftentimes, like, I'm not giving enough information, like if I want an email to be sent I will state okay, can you send an email to this person, and they will respond back to me and be like yeah, can you tell me what it's about? What should be included in the subject, and I'm like oh yeah, that makes sense, you need to know that. And so it's also feedback for me on how I can use them better as well. So I think that weekly meeting has been really effective for us to be like, there is some additional stuff I want you to do. But then also, like I said, getting me the feedback of I could have done this a little quicker if you were to have given me this ahead of time. And so it's kind of a two way street for me at least.

Emily Morgan: Yeah, I mean, I've had clients come to us where maybe it's not working with their current admin. I'm asking them, are you doing this kind of meeting? And they're typically not. And I think that kind of meeting can transcend the whole relationship and really change the way things are going between the two, because the team member is running that meeting. You guys are just showing up to it and participating, but you're not in charge of the meeting.

Adam Hale: And we do the same with our clients. And I agree 100% being able to have that face to face. It’s frustrating whenever I'd watch team members just like trade Slack messages or trade emails, and you can see the communication, and you're just like oh my gosh, just pick up the phone, or get on a Zoom meeting really quick, please. It'll just save so much stuff. So that weekly touchpoint makes a lot of sense. How does it work, like a typical engagement if somebody just has a thought that pops up in their head at three o'clock in the afternoon or noon, because I'm sure you have a set block of time. So is it within the week, or is it within the day? How do you typically like to structure that stuff?

Emily Morgan: To be responsive?

Adam Hale: Yeah, like if I'm contracting somebody for five hours a week or something like that, but it's sporadic throughout the week, is it just one of those things? What's that usually look like? 

Emily Morgan: So it'll be at least a half hour weekly call, and we kind of pick when the that call occurs, but then otherwise they're taking that hour a day and they're breaking it up across the whole day. Our team because of the nature of being so fractional, like we rarely will commit to, like we're going to work on you from 10 to 10:15 every Tuesday, like it's really hard to try and deliver on that. So we just say three times across the day, you may not hear from them, but they're sort of like reviewing the inbox or, you know, sending meeting confirmations, stuff like that during the day.

Adam Hale: Yeah, that's great. Because, I mean, now you've got coverage all day, even though you're only paying for kind of a fraction of that time. That's what's really difficult when people think about outsourcing services or, you know, it's the responsiveness that they get concerned with. They're like, hey, I know I only really need the butt in this seat for five hours a week, but I almost have to pay for them for 40 because I don't, you know what I mean, I don't know exactly what I'm going to need. And sometimes it flexes. And by having a fractional service like yours that's able to kind of break it apart down like that, you're able to spread across different clients is a huge win I think.

Emily Morgan: You know, going through COVID, we've rolled out a full time off right now. So we have that as an option. If clients need that, we've structured it within the way that we know we can deliver the service. But full time capability.

Adam Hale: Oh, yeah. I mean, with everybody going virtual you've got to be getting super busy. I mean, your services are only going to expand. With everybody getting used to just being on Zoom all day and figuring out how to work across lines.

Emily Morgan: I mean I met Jody because we were both running virtual teams, and I feel like, and I know Jody would say the same, but like for 13 years I've been banging the drum around why you can be virtual, and having to fight that battle. And then like overnight that changed. So it has affected us in interesting ways because, you know, now I'm competing for my talent in a way I never had to before because now everybody's remote. It's a remote job now. So that's been interesting too. 

Adam Hale: Yeah, no, I agree, I mean, it's one of those things where like on one hand, just like you said, the customers now are totally getting into Zoom because they had to get on Zoom because their kids are on Zoom, you know, whatever it is. But you're right now it's more of a competitive market. It's like, cool, but now more people are starting to wake up and do it. I guess it’s a good thing overall.

Jamie Nau: I think, obviously, Delegate Solutions has been the key for us in being virtual. So it's interesting you enjoy it that way. But I also think that, you know, it's been very helpful in the way we've done it in a virtual environment. Just having those tools at our fingertips. And so I think that's definitely been a key for us. So we're getting close to my last five minutes here. Emily, any other things that people need to be thinking about that are going down this path?

Emily Morgan: Yeah, this one, maybe everyone won’t like it, but it's a fact, as I said, you know, we really need to be committed to the boring stuff of our businesses, whether we're doing it or not. It is the backbone of what makes our companies what they are. And our ability to execute on it in an effective way is the differentiator between our service and the next person service. So I think it's important as leaders to accept that that is a fact of doing business that like a lot of what we do is kind of boring. But there's also people that love the boring stuff. And, you know, you have to be the champion for making sure that that's being executed at a really high level, even if you're not the one doing it.

Jamie Nau: That's a great point. As I mentioned earlier, that was the stuff that I always struggle with, and now it’s being done for me and it has made a world of difference. I can't say it enough. It's definitely made me better at my job. So Adam, any other thoughts from you on this?

Adam Hale: I just need some bookends here. I'm going to put you on the spot Emily. I heard boring, boring admin, whatever, give us some, like, the craziest request your team has said that they've had to do, and it can't be and oil change. Some guy asked me to change the oil, you know, like call and get that schedule. You got to have something without revealing too much, just so we know where the level of crazy can be. So that'll open up the door for me. It's like, okay, I'm not asking them to do that. I can definitely ask them to do this.

Emily Morgan: This is not the first time I've been asked this question. I think it's hilarious because the admins know everything, right? Like we know all the secrets, for better or worse. I can share from when I was the virtual assistant. I had a client that was my old boss. He was like a millionaire. He went to New Jersey to his shore house, and I guess he needed some pants. And so, like, I had to arrange for his limo driver to go to his house and pick up his pants and drive them down the shore.

Adam Hale: That’s the nice thing about being virtual. You don't have to do that. You just have to arrange for somebody else to do that. Awesome. That's cool. Okay so at least I know where my limits are, right? So if that's okay then the oil changes, and some of that other personal stuff definitely doable. 

Jamie Nau: Maybe this podcast will help Adam, I know he uses you guys, but now he will use you more now.

Adam Hale: Well yeah, now that I know where the limits are there's definitely a lot of areas for more.

Emily Morgan: The team will have even better stories. I'm a little rusty on doing the work. I'm busy running the company.

Adam Hale: Because you delegate.

All: Laughing [inaudible]

Jamie Nau: Awesome. So I appreciate it, and for all of our listeners we will have a lot of information in the show notes. I think again, especially for me, this has been the biggest game changer that I've done in the last six months. So I would definitely recommend it. I recommend it to my clients and a lot of my clients have been happy with it as well. So definitely check out Delegate Solutions and thanks again for joining us.