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Face It: It's Time to Hire an Assistant
 

Sure, hiring your first employee seems like more bother than it's worth. Here's how to make it well worth your time and money.

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"How can I clone myself?" my client asks. I sigh because I hear those words often.

My response is always the same: "You don't want to clone yourself; you want to surround yourself with people who perform specific tasks better than you do."

Take bookkeeping, for instance. I'll bet you love doing that! How about shipping products and keeping inventory? Thought so. If you're like most entrepreneurs, you are not very good at these things, nor do you enjoy them. Your time and energy are better spent on the things you do well; activities that grow your brand and increase revenue.

"Follow the money," says performance and productivity coach Lee Milteer. "Write those words on a sign as a reminder that you are not making money when you are caught up in the minutia. Your hourly worth is much higher than that of an assistant. If you are doing these things yourself you are losing money."

Yet so many business owners insist on doing it all because no one can do the job as well as they can. Oh, come on. Your life as an entrepreneur can get easier. These tips from Milteer's Million Dollar Assistant audio program can help.

Document your activities.  Teach your assistant to create documentation for every task. This valuable documentation is the foundation for your training system and adds value to your company. This task does not have to be yours alone.

Block your time. Train staff to hold questions until a designated time each day. Interruptions cost money! Block out creative time, time for marketing and sales, and time to spend with your assistant.

Put the phone down.  Have your new assistant screen your calls, obtaining information like why are they calling and when they are available to take a return call. Designate a time each day for returning calls so that you are not constantly interrupted.  You can even redirect your calls to an off-site virtual assistant with tools like Ring Central or another virtual PBX system.

Watch the money. Instruct your assistant to shop around for the best price on any purchase. Teach him to spend money as if it's coming out of his own checkbook. "Most entrepreneurs are afraid to talk about money to their staff," Milteer says. "They fear that employees will want more money if the company is profitable. Let the staff know your expenses so they understand what it costs to run a business."

Create ambassadors. Every team member must become an ambassador of your brand; their attitude is contagious. One negative person can have an adverse affect on your entire operation. And, no matter their job title, everyone is a sales person. "Give your employees scripts to upsell," says Milteer. "Rehearse with them and teach them to look for opportunities to sell."  Give employees a percentage bonus or another type of reward.  This reminds them that their job is not to simply push paper, but to help make the company profitable.

Make annual reviews productive. Have a two-way discussion at least once a year about your employee's strengths and opportunities for growth. Give her detailed information on how to grow and improve, don't simply expect it from her. Know her capabilities and delegate to her strengths.

Use completion logs. Have your assistant keep a running tally of what she does each day and email it to you daily.  This is not about micromanagement; it creates accountability and will keep you in touch with daily activity as needed.

Listen to your employees. Encourage all team members to contribute ideas for change, growth, and profitability. When an idea is implemented, offer a reward relative to the idea's worth. Rewards can range from candy bars to bonus checks.

Hiring an assistant may seem arduous at first, but the payoff is well worth it. I have never had a client express regret over hiring an assistant; only about not doing it sooner!

IMAGE: Getty
Last updated: Jul 2, 2012

MARLA TABAKA is a small-business adviser who helps entrepreneurs around the globe grow their businesses well into the millions. She speaks widely on combining strategic and creative thinking for optimum success and happiness.
@MarlaTabaka




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