Hiring an assistant, whether ‘virtual ‘or someone who will work in your office, can be a rewarding experience for all involved. Many small businesses inevitably reach a point in growth when expansion is needed to help propel the company forward. Choosing the right person for the job so to speak can make all the difference to this goal. Know what your needs are and consider the following and you’ll be on the road to success.
1. What is your work style? Try to find someone who likes to do the opposite of what you like to do, then all your bases are covered. For instance, do you lack organizational skills? Are you bad at prioritizing? If these are your weak points then finding an assistant who excels at these is essential. In my experience having a manager tell me their plans and ‘to-do’s’ without a timeline works well for me because one of my key strengths is time management and prioritizing. I can take my boss’ list and then work out the deadline and create a schedule for the steps to get us there.
2. What would make you more productive? Make a list of tasks or duties that would free you up to grow your business. Social media, book keeping, marketing? Many businesses reach a point of needing to ‘leap off ‘a new growth bridge. If your company is stagnant, a new mind on the team can open up a world of ideas. Evaluate what you don’t like to do. What is bogging you down on a day to day business? These are some of the duties that you can assign to an assistant. Then you are focussing on the productive, and fun, tasks that make you more efficient and effective.
3. Technology and social media: this is a biggie! If these things are important to you, and they should be, then find someone with experience in this area or at the very least an interest in it. This is especially true if you are not tech savvy. Like it or not, this is the world we live in and you need to be on-board to capitalize on the rapid changes it brings each day. The potential for a growing business is endless and Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Stumble Upon, Pinterest are some tools that each business should consider embracing. If you are looking for these often time-consuming tasks to be completed by an assistant then finding one with experience is a bonus. If your assistant needs training there are lots of online courses and in-person workshops available in most cities/countries but a show of interest by the assistant is essential to embracing these teachings. All of these social media vehicles require daily attention and initiative to make them productive and fruitful. An assistant can drive you in this direction if you choose wisely.
4. Do you need an assistant who works from your office, or their home or both? Firstly, is it essential that your assistant be face to face with you to accomplish your needs? Does he/she have to be in the same city even? This will be a somewhat personal decision; some managers find it essential to have in-person contact on a regular basis. This decision will also be dictated by what work you really require. Are you looking for someone who can write letters or other correspondence, do your book keeping, schedule appointments? These are some of the tasks that could be completed by a ‘virtual’ assistant completely online. Do you need someone you can brainstorm with or need to explain a lot of intricate tasks to? These might be best suited to a one-on-one situation.
5. Pay – For some employers this may be ‘the big question’. When pondering this keep in mind that a great assistant can actually grow your business. A lot of the companies I’ve worked for have been able to expand greatly as a result of having someone else on-board. This is for a multitude of reasons, some mentioned above, like time freed up to expand your role and the new ideas that an assistant can bring to the table. When your business grows it means that your assistant is an investment to be valued and paid accordingly. Before you begin your search for a new team member a discussion with your accountant should be a first step. Where are you financially? What can you really afford? When discussing remuneration during the interview stage make clear any expectations about reviews, future increases and any additional perks. These are as essential in a small business as they are for any Fortune 500 company and should be outlined clearly as such.
As a small business owner, hiring an assistant can be a big step but it should be viewed as one that will bring about growth for both of you and endless potential for you company if you choose wisely and consider all the options available.
C. Michele Gare works as a freelance Marketing Manager and Executive Assistant, both virtual and on-location, with a variety of companies including Newroad Coaching. Her extensive experience in event planning, marketing, and television production management provides companies with countless tools for expansion. With a B.A.A. from Ryerson University in Radio and Television, her roles as a Production Manager and Associate Producer have encompassed team management, marketing and directing on a variety of projects. Michele has worked throughout North America for such organizations as YTV Canada, Mariposa Communications, CTV, BizNet and TSN. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @g_mitchcan