Sandra Lewis – Founder and CEO of Worldwide101

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I would probably put systems in place much earlier on. I wish I had created procedures early on, so that the work didn’t depend on me so much and for so long!

Sandra Lewis is the Founder and CEO of Worldwide101, a virtual assistant company with team members located in the US, Canada, and throughout Europe. During her career, Sandra has worked as operations manager for companies such as Regus and BuroServices, with a focus on supporting small businesses to be effective as they scale.

Where did the idea for your company come from?

I noticed how hard it was for successful business owners, and entrepreneurs to identify, and retain highly professional, skilled, and reliable talent on a flexible basis, as and when needed, and without breaking the bank. I set myself to provide a durable solution.

How do you bring ideas to life?

The old fashion way with a pen and paper, and lots of scribbling, drawings, and re-writing. I like to use big pieces of paper and let my creativity go wild until the ideas crystalize into something!

What’s one trend that really excites you?

The rise of flexible & remote work. There are so many amazing opportunities for entrepreneurs and professionals alike to make use of technology and earn a living beyond the boundaries of the country they live in. This is an exceptional time. I believe flexible work will only grow as more people experience the benefits.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

It would have to be delegation! I am well aware of my limitations and what I don’t excel at doing, and I’ve learnt not to struggle and waste time and energy on tasks I can delegate to others. I believe that the key to productivity is to focus one’s time on what will yield the highest results. Think of how much you are worth per hour, and delegate tasks that someone else can do for a fraction of that hourly rate!

What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?

I think the hardest job for me was to assist a high profile executive. While I learnt a lot, and still apply my learnings to this day, my need for creativity, and greater freedom was slightly styfolded!

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

I would probably put systems in place much earlier on. I wish I had created procedures early on, so that the work didn’t depend on me so much and for so long!

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

As much as possible, I try to keep things simple. There are many complex issues that every entrepreneur is faced with, be mindful not to complicate things even more! To quote Richard Brandson “Complexity is your enemy. Any fool can make something complicated. It is very hard to make something simple.”

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Taking action, again, and again, and again! As Woody Allen says “80% of success is showing up.” Taking action is what yields results – not thinking about it, or spending hours meeting and strategizing. Of course, it’s important to create a plan, but my strategy is to get things done!

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it

I am a bit of a control freak! I like to know what’s going on at every level of the company, and obviously it creates a bottleneck, and it’s disempowering. I am not sure I’ve completely overcome this one yet – but I am aware of my tendency, and I do my best to let go…as much as I can!

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

I’m a big animal lover so I’m always on the look out for innovative products that enhances our pups’ lives. For example, one of our dogs is terrified of thunder, and we haven’t found anything on the market to help. There are heavy drugs and tranquilizers, but nothing natural, which seems to work. I think this could be a huge market if done well.

Tell us something about you that very few people know?

Most of the year I run my business from a barn in the beautiful French countryside. My husband and I find great solace, and peace surrounded by nature – the forest surrounding our house, the rolling hills, and the smell of the rain. My favorite thing is to put on my boots, and walk our dogs through cow pastures, breathe in the fresh air, and remember to be grateful.

What software and web services do you use?

In our line of work, we live and breathe online web services, so it’s hard to just choose a few but I would have to say Trello is fantastic for collaboration, and sharing tasks, and To Dos, and Freshbooks is outstanding for easy time tracking and invoicing.

I love how intuitive they are to use. I love simplicity, and getting things done quickly. A tool should be an aid, and not so complicated that you need another tool/ manual to figure it out!

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh. It’s an easy and very inspiring read on Tony’s entrepreneurial journey. Tony’s candidness is refreshing.

What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?

It would have to be Jim Collins for his website and books about how some companies become great and other don’t, and how greatness is not a function of circumstances, greatness is a function of conscious choice and discipline. http://www.jimcollins.com/
And again Tony Hsieh. https://twitter.com/tonyhsieh

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