I received a request asking that I write about hiring an assistant and determining when the time is right. I love this question because I have watched myself and my clients dance around this issue and I have a pretty good handle on what might help you make this decision.
I want to start out with all your Objections and reasons not to get help. In my opinion, if you are in your right mind of course you want an assistant! However, when you begin thinking about hiring, the first thing you do is create the list of all the reasons why not to. Usually the money is at the top of the list, followed by “How will I find the right person?, I don’t have time to train them, I wouldn’t know what to have them do, it’s faster to do it myself, where would they sit?, would they need a computer?…” you get my point. You do your best to convince yourself it is a bad idea.
This focus on the objections often leads to your waiting until the pain is so great that you are in worse shape to hire someone than when you were in your right mind but making the wrong decision. 🙂
My first tip is this:
1. Override your list of objections by getting real with the list of what becomes possible with another person supporting you.
It is not the best use of your time to be doing all the tasks and projects that are required to run a successful business. I have had a virtual assistant for over two years and she is awesome. I depend on her knowledge to support me in areas where I don’t excel, where I don’t want to focus my time and energy, and on tasks where I have zero aptitude. I took a leap of faith when I engaged her but I knew in my gut that without her help I was stuck in the mud of my own creation. Your business will stall if you resist getting help when you need it. Another option to consider is this:
2. Listen to your intuition. If she is talking to you, start out slowly and ease yourself into having an assistant. We think we have to bring someone in for a lot of hours and that immediately stops us from taking action. Instead, start at 2-5 hours a week and once you get in the groove with the right person, you’ll see how much value they bring and will have them doing more and more as time goes on.
Given that the financial component is usually the loudest objection, I want to offer some thoughts and considerations. What I have learned in 35 years of being self-employed is your business should support you, not the other way around. “What does this mean?” you might ask.
3. Simply put, you need to be building a business that will sustain you and the needs of the business. Hiring an assistant and/or getting operational help is one of those needs. If you set your intention and take action towards this goal, it will happen. By taking action I mean budgeting for it, planning for it, and committing to this essential next step.
Another concern solopreneurs have is “What will I have them do and how long should it take?”
4. I recommend you start with what most needs to be done because you don’t do it! Over time you’ll come to know the strengths of your assistant and how they can best serve you. Things always take more time than we think they should, whether we are doing them ourselves or having someone else do them. Keeping this in mind will help create ease instead of angst.
It costs money to build a business and paying for help and support is a fact of business life. You will limit growth and opportunity, both yours and that of the business, if you do it all yourself. I see that having two assistants, one local and one virtual, has allowed me the possibility of doing so much more than I could possibly do on my own. My income has increased far beyond what it costs to pay for their help, ideas emerge and get implemented, and we are all more efficient and effective. More importantly, it has been expansive and opened the space for things to happen in my business that I never even considered possible.
5. You are taking a chance when you hand over parts of your business to another person(s). Being 100% risk adverse is not conducive to business success. You can take small steps into the land of assistants and in doing so will find the right person, for the right amount of hours, at the right price, to support you.