with Aliza Sherman
If you own a business - home-based or otherwise - this is the blog where you'll find practical tips and smart ideas about entrepreneurship. I've started and run 4 different businesses so "been there, done that." I'll also invite successful entrepreneurs to share their best advice with you.
To learn more about Aliza, check out her profile on Work It, Mom! and her website, www.mediaegg.com.
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When do you know that it is time to hire an assistant? I think so many of us are used to multi-tasking. Some of us, like me, even thrive on having a million things to do and find it difficult to get motivated when our workload is light. But even with Type A overachievers, there must be some definitive signs that it is time to hire some help.
Here are some signs that could mean you are in need of hiring somebody.
1. You are missing deadlines. Sure, your clients may be forgiving, but if you find yourself getting behind, chances are you’ve reached the tipping point between a lot of work and too much work for one human being. Missing deadlines is not acceptable. Don’t sully your reputation by lowering your standards.
2. You are working far more than sleeping. I was going to say working more than playing or working more than spending time with your family - but let’s face it. As a business owner, you DO work more than play or have quality family time. But if you are working 12 hour days and sleeping 5 hours, your on the road to sleep deprivation which means really low productivity.
3. You are burning out. Burnout can come in many forms. Short temper, lack of concentration, overall frustration or exhaustion. Whatever the symptoms, they are bad and make you feel bad. If you feel bad more often than good, you need to ease up on the work schedule.
4. You are sick more than healthy. Are you run down, fighting off yet another cold and finding that your immune system just isn’t up to snuff these days? You need to take care of yourself, re-energize, and bring on some help so you can get back to optimal health. Pushing yourself further could easily lead to walking pneumonia.
5. You’re debating about taking on another client. If you want to grow your business, the question in your head should not be “Can I handle another client” but rather “How can I handle another client?” The answer could be to hire some help.
But What Kind Of Help Do I Need?
I think I tend to put off hiring someone because:
a. I think I cannot afford them.
b. I’m just not sure who I need to hire.
c. I think it will be too much work to train someone to do what I do.
In answer to these procrastination tactics, here is my advice (that, of course, I will have to take myself):
a. Every client or project pays something. You can easily scrape off a percentage of that payment to pay someone else to free you up to do bigger projects and bring in more money. Think of it as an investment. But make sure you don’t pay someone so much that you have little left to cover your expenses with some profit built in as well.
b. Look at the work that is taking up your time but not bringing in money quickly. If the tasks include busy work like filing, checking web site links, conducting basic Internet research, and posting events to online calendars, that is something an assistant or intern can do. If the tasks require more authority like keeping track of assignments, making sure team members meet deadlines, or overseeing work, you’re looking at more of a project management type. Passing off the busy work and project management role to others means you have more time to cultivate new clients and work on the bigger dollar strategic consulting.
c. Identify the tasks you need help with then jot down step-by-step instructions. In the process of doing this, you are creating a manual for anyone you hire. Use this document to help explain how you would like things done. Make sure the person working on the tasks modifies and updates the document as needed along the way. If that person moves on and you need to bring on another, you have a working document so you don’t have to explain as much the next time.
There has been no way around the fact that I have to hire people to help.
I’ve just brought on a writer/editor; a project manager; an associate producer; and an assistant - all working from their homes across the country and all working as independent contractors. I’ll let you know how it goes.
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