Interview with Neil Finnie, Founder of Corkscrew , Exeter, United Kingdom


1. Tell us a bit about yourself

I love helping young people realize their potential and I love the startup world so founding an organization that combines both these things was a dream for me. Corkscrew is funded by the EU and so far has trained over 150 young people. Our aim is to double that next year and we are also opening training centers in Barcelona and Berlin. I am starting to travel a lot, which combined with my two young kids and my normal day to day work has put increasing pressure on me. I am not that best at delegating even though I teach all my students it’s one of the most important skills to get right so you can focus on growing your business!

2. Why did you decide to get a online PA

When I realised that I was not working on things that mattered and that the quality of my key work was suffering as well as my family life. I had thought for a long time about getting an online PA but never seemed to find the time to start the process, a real catch 22. I think the final straw for me was when I was spending a whole Saturday working on some pretty basic tasks, while my kids were playing outside in the garden. I just thought why am I doing this, there must be a better way!

3. What were your concerns about getting an online PA

I did not really have any concerns about getting an online pa, I have outsourced a lot of jobs overseas, website design, SEO work and even fundraising applications so I am pretty familiar and comfortable with how the online world works. I would also describe myself as an early adopter. However I did have concerns about getting a PA. I knew I did not need or could afford a full time PA or even a part time one. To be honest I just did not know how much time I really needed  so I did not want to commit. This is why I was so attracted to AVirtuals service as I liked the flexibility to move up and down packages and grow with them as I found my way with a online PA. It’s being a very rewarding experience to me so far.

4. What’s tasks have you handed over

To start with I found it quite hard to think about what I could handover. So one afternoon I sat down and wrote a list of what I did each day. I then marked down what was 1. Critical to the business and 2. What I could possibly handover. The results were actually pretty scary, I realized I was wasting around 40% of my time on matters that I could either delegate or were not critical to growing the business. So sitting down for 1 hour that afternoon has saved me around 60 hours a month! To manage these delegated tasks I have to invest probably an hour a week but the ROI on that time is clear to see.

5. What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of getting a online PA

Number one, do what I did above. Your time is your most valuable asset, analyze how you are spending it, you cannot afford to waste any of it. I now regard my PA Natasha as my secret weapon. I feel like there are two of me and even though I am accomplishing so much more, I am calmer and happier.

6. Any final wise words?

I will quote John Ortberg here,

“I don’t have a problem with delegation. I love to delegate. I am either lazy enough, or busy enough, or trusting enough, or congenial enough, that the notion of leaving tasks in someone else’s lap doesn’t just sound wise to me, it sounds attractive.”

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