Should I Hire An Assistant?

Do you ever get through your day and think, “I could have gotten so much more done today if I had an assistant? I feel so unproductive.” How about when you look at your to-do list and feel like you could definitely leverage your time better? How can you tell that you might need an assistant? The typical signs that you might need an assistant often include: overbooking your calendar, missing appointments, suffering from email overload, passing on business opportunities, or feeling overloaded with stress. Don’t you wish you had an assistant to take care of some or most of that for you?   Should I Hire An Assistant? The decision on whether or not to hire an assistant is an important one. Choosing wisely with proper planning will make you more productive and wealthier over time. Choose an assistant without thinking the decision through and planning, and guess what? You throw gasoline on the fire of unproductivity—and you will most likely spend money without earning a profitable return. What are the important factors when deciding whether or not to hire an assistant? Expectations & Goals– Arguably the most important factor in your hiring decision. A little planning can go a long way here, whether it’s writing a One-Hour Business Plan or just a simple job description. If you’re trying to leverage your assistant’s time to make you more money, then you need to hire someone who can support your business development efforts and sales efforts. One candidate might be better suited to conduct Internet sales research, while another might focus on administrative work. If you need business development leverage, make sure you hire for that skill set. If you fail to change your behavior to follow up on the assistant’s preparation work, then you as the business owner might make the whole process fail. It’s hard for us business owners to change our work activities sometimes, but it’s necessary to ensure a successful addition to your team.   Virtual or In-Person Assistant – If you have enough office space, an in-person assistant might be best for you. Consider the talent pool for assistants in your local area; if you’re not in a large city, it may be limited. Part-Time vs. Full-Time –How much assistant can you afford? Some business owners use part-time employment as a test before committing to the expense and risk of taking on a full-time employee. The decision often comes down to money more than to work requirements. Be careful not to overestimate the productivity gains, cost savings, or sales leverage an assistant will provide you. Be conservative with your estimates. Domestic vs. International– It is true that lower-wage assistants are available outside the US. But if your assistant is interfacing with your customers, then English-language and cultural skills become very important in who you’re hiring. If your assistant will be doing primarily back-office tasks such as research, supplier management, and scheduling, consider an international assistant. Personality– This might sound obvious, but the personalities of a business owner and an assistant must blend well for the relationship to work, even more so than other work relationships. They must enjoy each other’s company and anticipate one another’s needs for the working relationship to function optimally. Work Style– A quality assistant should be able to know what the boss is doing right now, as well as anticipating his or her future needs. Work style fit is important. Do you need someone who can operate without specific instructions? Are your work tasks very routine and repetitive, without a lot of thinking involved? Does one of you prefer to work on difficult tasks in the morning, the other in the afternoon?  Perhaps you prefer to manage your employees’ work closely, but your potential assistant detests being micromanaged. Using an Agency vs. Hiring Independently– if you are a trial-and-error person by nature or anticipate having to work with more than one assistant until you find the right fit, consider using an agency. It will cost you a little more, but will save you a lot of time. If you are mostly clear on what you want in an assistant, hiring independently might be the best way to proceed. There certainly are a lot of factors to consider when hiring an assistant. The point is not to make it complicated, but to consider your needs and those of your business. If hiring an assistant is right for you, do yourself a favor and consider these important factors.  Even a little careful planning can go a long way to increase your odds of a successful hire. Setting expectations and goals for your assistant—including what you want to accomplish—is a logical place to start. Let us know what you think.       Copyright © John McAdam 2014. All Rights Reserved.