I think you should hire an assistant. While this might sound like bit of a departure from the regular topics we cover here, bear with me. I’ve had my own assistant for almost two years now, and it’s been a bit of a game changer. When I bring this up in conversation with clients and friends, they often complain that they could never afford one, and that it seems to complicated to find someone good. The truth is that I’ve hired extremely capable freelance assistants online for $10-12/hr. They’re native English speakers, competent professionals, and I don’t have to pay any additional payroll taxes, benefits, etc. Furthermore, I spent just a few hours finding them online, I tested their skills before making a longer term commitment, and I’ve had generally good experiences doing this over the last 2 years. Since they work remotely from “virtual” offices, I don’t have to make space in the office for them or provide them with the equipment and technology to do their jobs; they handle that themselves. In addition to the fact that it’s a relatively uncomplicated process, here are the reasons you should hire an assistant today:
- It will force you to think about how you deliver your highest and best value. One of the best coaches I’ve ever hired once advised me to divide my life into three categories (A, B and C) based on the financial value they deliver, as well as my passion and skill in doing them. Activities in the A category would be activities like providing actual coaching sessions, since it meets all of the criteria above. He’s quite wealthy, so I pay attention when he speaks. He said something quite profound at the end of the lesson, and I’ve never forgotten it. He said, “The difference between you and me is that I refuse to do my best B activity, while you fill your year with hundreds of C activities.” In other words, he outsources everything he possibly can.
- It’s a great opportunity to learn about hiring and firing. If your goal is to get paid more money to do what you love, one of the fastest ways to do that is to make the move from individual contributor to manager. In a management role, you’ll have to learn how to hire well, and fire well. Having done both, I can tell you that it isn’t a skill that comes naturally for everyone. Why wait for your boss to promote you before you learn these valuable skills? Promote yourself by getting an assistant, and you may find that you can leverage the experience to get promoted in a more traditional sense.
- You’ll learn important lessons about managing people. Even beyond hiring and firing, there are countless lessons to be learned about managing people. You have to learn how to communicate clearly about what you need done, and give constructive feedback after the project is completed. You’ll get perspective on what happens when workers call in sick, miss deadlines, or let you down in some way. On the positive side, you’ll experience the thrill of realizing that a task you were dreading can be delegated to someone else who is thankful for the opportunity to do the work!
If I’ve managed to convince you in this short post that you should hire an assistant, there are a few websites you’ll want to check out. Elance.com is my own personal favorite. I’ve posted six jobs there in the past, and I have a seventh currently open. It’s always been a helpful experience, and it’s a well-established platform so there are literally thousands of virtual assistants you can choose. Odesk is a long-time competitor to Elance. While I haven’t used it myself, I know people who have, and it has plenty of positive reviews. People Per Hour is a third. It’s been around since 2007, which makes it a fairly reliable platform to use for hiring, though still newer than either of the options mentioned previously.
While I could go into great detail by providing tips for using these platforms, it’s always good to do some discovery on your own. Post a comment below to let me know whether you’ve hired a virtual assistant before, you’re now inspired to get it done, or you’d never do it. If you have, how did it work out? If not, what’s getting in the way?