You’ve done it! After the long hours of back-office tasks you decided to take on by yourself (tsk, tsk…), mountains of unread emails, and clearing your voicemail box for the THIRD time this week, you finally decided to hire an assistant.
Impressive resume? Check. Nice rapport during the interview? Check. That jolt of excitement knowing you’ve finally got some help? Check. Congratulations – you’ve hired an assistant! …Now what?
Hiring an assistant (whether it’s your first or your fiftieth) means you should have a game plan going in. Too often people hire without knowing how to make the most of their additional help. We get it, you say to yourself “I’ve been so swamped, I’ll just hand it all off.” Wrong. We’ve seen the repercussions of too much, too soon or the dreaded hesitation of letting go. So first…
- Assess Your Own Tasks & Time. Before hiring, we recommend keeping tabs on what exactly you’re working on and how long you’re spending. Then, rank your priorities. By keeping track of your own time, the tasks you most need to hand off will be easily pinpointed. We highly recommend T-Sheets for an easy to use software that allows a comprehensive snapshot of your day.
- Communicate. And then Communicate Some More. Hiring an assistant can work wonders for both your business and your stress level. However, if communication is stunted, progress will be blocked. We recommend scheduling time to meet once a week to touch base. In person is great, but virtual is just as good (we recommend Zoom – it’s top quality & free!). Try to understand how they work, what their strengths are, their weaknesses. And, most importantly, allow yourself the flexibility of change. Don’t be a tyrant. A great assistant who can “manage-up” is one of the best tools you can have – trust us.
Get a Flow Going
Schedules are set, priorities are in order. But the work isn’t over yet (is it ever?). A working relationship is just that – always working.
- Delegate in Waves. Ramp up your assistant’s responsibility in stages. Start small, gauge results, and then delegate more and more when you’re both ready. Soon, your assistant will feel like more of an extension of yourself, allowing them the opportunity to “manage-up” (spotting weaknesses or gaps before they happen) and you’ll have that warm, fuzzy feeling of someone really *getting* you and your business.
- Spend Some Time Away. We know you’re the backbone of your business. That doesn’t mean you need to be front and center every day, all day. In fact, you shouldn’t be. With an efficient assistant taking on more and more, you need to let your office run without you. It will strengthen your assistant’s “ownership” of their work, and you’ll get to re-prioritize. And being gone doesn’t mean you’re disconnected. Software such as Asana is a great way to keep an eye on what’s going on with clients, projects, progress, and even your assistant’s daily workload.
Capitalize on Your Time
Dare we say it…you’ve found yourself some free time? In the small business world, that’s like striking gold – capitalize on it!
- Business Development. Why did you hire an assistant in the first place? Oh yeah, to do what you do best! If your strength is in selling, or networking, or writing – do it as often as you can. Now that you’ve got a trustworthy assistant to handle the back-office of your business, you have to be the driving force to keep that revenue flowing. Those three hours you just gained back from not fighting with QuickBooks? Make some sales calls! Found some free time after that shoebox of business cards was finally entered into your CRM system? Write a blog and get it out with your newsletter! And get it on your calendar. Make it real and follow through.
- “Me” Time. What’s just as important as business development? Me time. Avoid burnout. Take a vacation. Do what makes you happy. Clear your mind for a few hours, for a weekend, for a cross country trip. Your assistant’s got this. When the well is dry, you need to make it a priority to relax and get it filled again.
No man (or business owner) is an island. You can’t do it alone. And you shouldn’t. If you’re uneasy about letting go, it’s OK. Just chip away little by little until you’ve built that confidence. And if you need to get through a couple of assistants until you find the right one, that’s OK, too. This is a working relationship for the both of you and should be mutually beneficial.
Don’t put off today what will make an easier tomorrow!
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