The Iron Law of running a startup or microISV is there’s never enough time to everything, especially the important but non-critical stuff. It takes lots and lots of time to do the strategic stuff – often you have to pump in some unknown number of hours just researching.
That’s why I’m excited by Fancy Hands – it’s fixed price virtual assistants for simple but time-consuming tasks. I recently used Fancy Hands (15 tasks per month for $35) to kick off two projects that have been stalled forever: engaging more with other startup bloggers and social media bloggers. Before you can engage, you have to know who to engage with – and that’s an easy task to hand off to someone else and get “good enough” results.
All it took was signing up with the service (FH uses Google Accounts for authentication), then send them an email for a task:
- Name, email and blog URL and name for the top 25 Social Media Bloggers.
- Name, email and blog URL and name for the top 25 software Startup Bloggers.
- (something private)
Here’s something worth mentioning: total elapsed time between putting in these two requests (and a third) and getting results: 45 minutes. Put another way, for that 45 minutes it was like having 3 Bob VMs running in addition to yours truly.
Fancy Hands isn’t a virtual bookkeeper, fashion consultant or speechwriter: they focus on scheduling, web research, making appointments. But getting 15 of those things off your plate for the month is worth a lot more than $35 or the X hours it would take you. Here’s some of their most requested tasks:
- Restaurant Reservations
- Scheduling a car service / taxi pickup
- Find the nearest place that has iPads in stock
- Find the advertising rates (or contact info) for the top 10 [industry] blogs
- Schedule a haircut with [stylist] on Friday after 1pm
- Call [three bars] and find out if they have a private room available for rentals
- Call [primarily offline company] and get the status of order number xyz
- Find a couple upholsterer options near where I work
- Call TD Bank and ask how many checks I can use for free on a standard personal account
- Call some hotel and extend my stay for three nights instead of two
I’ve been cajoling Mason Levey to add a more technical track to deal with the real IT pains in my butt like:
- Why are my iCal alarms doubled up?
- What’s the best online service out there to let people fill in a short questionnaire and book my time?
- A proven recipe for setting up 3 WordPress blogs on a new VPS.
- Best current tool for winnowing out low value Twitter follows?
- What’s the best automatic Twitter background maker out there?
- What should my Facebook privacy settings be?
There’s a huge market out there for these kind of Internet-related tasks – not just startups and IT people, but all those hundreds of millions of people out there being pulled day by day and step by step into our net-centric world. Give Fancy Hands a try (and here’s a StartupToDo.com Guide on Fancy Hands with a nice discount code), and bug Mason to offer an IT track: it would be awesome!
(P.S – and if you can make any of those IT pains go away, let’s talk: email@example.com.)