Why you’re not ready to hire an assistant

Updated to Productivity on December 30, 2022.

When I started my company I couldn’t wait to get an office separate from my house. “Then I’ll have made it” I thought.

Once I had the office I couldn’t wait to get staff to do all the work I was terrible at. “Then I’ve really made it!” I thought.

But what if you could grow your business AND never need staff (or an office outside your home)?

The world has changed and employee expectations have changed as well. Working remotely has become common and businesses are developing internal systems to better manage communication with employees they never see face to face.

So, before you start placing ads and booking interviews to hire your first assistant, here are 3 steps to go through.

1. Create an SOP

Job one for you, the boss, is getting out of nirvana dreaming of all your worries disappearing when Mrs. Doubtfire walks through the door and getting very specific about work that needs to be done.

I recommend you start with one list of routines, like billing, collections, sales, customer service, ordering, etc. that are done every week. For each of those you need an SOP (Standard Operating Procedure).

We create our SOP’s in Google Docs so they are easy to share and we give the person responsible authority to update the routine as they discover improvements.

Next you have your one-off, occasional, sometimes list. Don’t hire for these – they aren’t enough reason to add a person to your roster. Instead, outsource them.

2. Put a dollar on it

In business, everything has a cost and a return. Your job is to measure the actual cost of adding an assistant and the potential return to your business.

For example, if there is no direct revenue generation, then estimate the time you would gain to generate revenue through more sales, better prospect follow up, or customer service.

No returns means no need to hire.

3. Prove yourself wrong

The final test is to map out how you could outsource all the work (instead of hiring local staff) and then prove yourself wrong.

I did this recently and realized as much as I’d love to have an editor on staff, we are much better off outsourcing that piecemeal, in terms of convenience and cost.