According to a Sageworks analysis, small businesses (their definition is $10 million to $1 billion) are leading the charge for the economic recovery because profit margins are increasing and credit risks are decreasing. Great news!
My own informal analysis shows that much smaller firms, those working their way to $1 million, are in the same boat. One of the most popular refrains these days from firms I work with is, “I need an assistant!” And business is good enough and consistent enough that they actually think it’s time to hire someone. Wonderful!
I had the great honor and privilege of working with one of the most outstanding Executive Assistants ever, Vera, who not only filtered my calls, but also learned to think my thoughts before I thought them. “Should I set up a meeting with the product development department for next Wednesday?” Of course you should! Why didn’t I think of that? An great assistant can more than double your productivity.
There are plenty of things to think about before you take the plunge, however. Here are just a few of them.
1) Can you afford an assistant? It is a great temptation to imagine all the things you do today that someone else can do for you, freeing you up to do all those other productive things you do. But remember, if you hire a full time assistant and pay $15 per hour (including Social Security etc.) it will cost your company $30,000 a year. Experienced assistants will cost more.
2) Do you have the time to recruit, hire, and support an assistant? Recruiting great talent is hard work. You need lots of resumes, time to review them all, interview the top candidates, check their references, set up payroll, and that’s just to get to their first day. Then there are decisions like holidays, vacation days, sick days, benefits, and so on.
3) Managing people is a skill. They need to be motivated, know your goals, understand their work requirements, have regular feedback, receive training, and so on. While they are going to help free you to do all those other things you do, they are also going to demand time from you for the new role of managing staff.
4) Do you have a workspace? A desk, a computer, a phone, software licenses and so on will be needed to help the new employee begin and become productive quickly.
5) Do you have a job description? You and your assistant will need one. What is expected of them? How are you going to evaluate their performance?
If this seems daunting to you, you may want to call in some help.
First, consider starting with a virtual assistant from a company that provides them. They may cost more per hour, but remember that the company recruits, trains, manages and supports them. You don’t buy equipment or provide office space. And, you can buy time when you need it and not when you are at a conference and don’t need any help.
Second, if you are ready to take the plunge, check into firms that do the recruiting, background checking and placements for you. These firms allow you to have a trial period to ensure the candidate is the right fit. It will cost you money for the placement, but the time it saves you and the quality of candidates may well be worth it!
All the best!