Would your business and personal life improve if you could focus on content creation and strategic thinking? Do you have access to some of the most talented, dedicated, and career-oriented individuals in the world? Can you employ individuals to do the routine tasks that clutter your day? According to Virtual Freedom, the answer to all three questions is a resounding YES!

Chris Ducker's newly published book, entitled "Virtual Freedom:How to Work With Virtual Staff to Buy More Time, Become More Productive, and Build Your Dream Business" (Ben Bella Books, ISBN 978-193952974-9), is a thoughtful, well organized introduction to team building on a global scale. I found his no-nonsense approach to explaining how to hire and work with virtual assistants refreshing, with only modest reference to his own Virtual Staff Finder services. Ducker uses clearly written prose to provide concrete advice and step-by-step guidance, all containing a clear vision of how you can improve your life, and the lives of others, by engaging virtual employees.

VirtualFreedomCredit: VirtualFreedomBook.com

Combating the Super-Hero Syndrome

            Virtual Freedom opens with an exploration of the "Super-Hero Syndrome," or the common entrepreneurial belief that everything must be done in-house, regardless of how much, or what type, of work there might be. Breaking this mindset is the key to scaling online businesses beyond the startup, and Ducker follows the introduction with a section that takes the reader through the conceptual and operational steps needed for hiring virtual assistants. Included is a call to take a serious look at your daily business activities, and to identify those components that you either shouldn't, or don't necessarily need to, be doing. History shows us that the most successful long-term businesses are those that develop strong teams, with each member having clear roles and ways of contributing to overall goals. Ducker explains how to go about finding just the right team members for your operation.

            Of course, finding and hiring a virtual assistant is just the beginning of the journey.  Section 2 and 3 of the book delve into the details of training and managing your virtual team, whether it is composed of one or many members. One of the things that I admired about the book is the author's willingness to go beyond the gospel of virtual assistants to spend some time discussing the potential problems that an entrepreneur might face, including how to tame their own egos. Throughout, he emphasizes an important point that is often overlooked in this new virtual reality -- in order to be effective, virtual assistants need to be treated as valued members of the business, whether they are working for you on one-off projects or on a continuing basis.   

Virtually Here or There?

            Having covered the nuts and bolts of virtual staff, Ducker uses Section 4 of the book to launch into a philosophical discussion of domestic versus international outsourcing. While he presents both options as worthy of consideration, he clearly comes down on the side of hiring outside the borders of your own country, particularly if you live in one of the developed western nations. Part of the reason for this is pragmatic, as it is possible to find extremely talented individuals in many places around the globe, and especially in locals where the prevailing wage rate is lower than in the west. Doing so will not only increase the small entrepreneur's  economically viable, but talso provide the opportunity for human capital development in places where such opportunities might be scarce.

            The last few sections of the book expand on the ways in which a business can make valued use of virtual assistants, both in terms of building lasting quality teams (Section 5) and quality business content (Section 6). In both cases, Ducker strongly argues for P2P, or the building of quality person-to-person relationships on both sides of your business. In a world that is becoming more global, more information dense (I would say noisy), and yet, paradoxically, more fragmented all the time, it will be the person-to-person connections that determine whether a small business is ultimately successful or not. Ducker concludes the book with a 6-month call-to-action plan and a list of common mistakes that are made when getting started with virtual assistants.

             As should be clear, I found this book to be thought provoking and extremely valuable, and not only from the perspective of a traditional entrepreneur. As an academic who has seen his required tasks explode in number, this books spurred me into thinking long and hard about what my real skill set is and how I am using my time. In truth, I have found myself more and more engaged in administrative and repetitive work, neither of which I desire or am particularly adept at doing. Virtual Freedom points the way out of this conundrum, and it is one that I am already exploring. From my perspective, Virtual Freedom is an essential resource that can help anyone leverage their real skills to further their activities, whether they be business-related in the traditional sense or not. I highly recommend it.