Just Do It: Hire an Office Assistant ASAP

Why You Must Hire an Office Assistant as soon as possible.

A question that I receive fairly frequently and that I’ve answered a lot, especially in some of the round table consulting groups that I do periodically is, when should I hire an office person?  Let me read you part of an email and then, I will answer this.  This is about hiring an office person…how to get the confidence and the courage to do it and when to do it. 

In this message, it says, “My true talent is in pushing production, getting projects done, and sales as well. I hate being at the PC which is why I love your software.  I feel that as the marketing picks up, the situation will only get worse and at some point, we all have to bite the bullet and hire a non-billable person to help out.  Please explain how you would do it if it was your first office assistant.”

Okay, so a couple of key things here.  The word non-billable. I want to talk about that and I want to talk about how you figure this out because this is critical to scaling your company.  The first hump you have to get over is getting yourself out of the field.  The next hump, often times, is getting that first assistant in the office to take stuff off of you.  I’ve probably said this before, but it’s so critical to pound it into your mind.  If you’re doing something that you could hire somebody else to do, whatever that dollar figure is, it is worth it to go ahead and hire someone.

Let me say it a different way.  If you are doing something a $14/hr person could do, you are wasting your money, big time. For example, if you are scheduling work in a software system, taking a billing phone call and receiving a credit card payment, taking a phone call and emailing an invoice, or sitting in front of your computer to type out an estimate for 20 minutes, you are essentially making $14 an hour.  That’s really what it comes down to.  You’re doing something that a $14 an hour person could do. 

You’re the owner, the guy that made this thing happen, the guy that started it and that took all the risks.  You’re the individual that if it wasn’t for you, this thing wouldn’t be here. You have a unique set of capabilities that a lot of other people don’t have.  You have a level of dedication, courage, and perseverance that many people don’t have and you need to make sure that you’re working in whatever your unique ability is. 

In this email, it was mentioned that his true talent was pushing production, getting projects done, and sales as well.

Two points here.  One, that’s exactly what this individual needs to be doing all the time because, everything else they’re doing is a waste of their talent and it’s hurting the company.  He also mentioned that he hates being in front of the PC. That means that he’s probably not doing his best work.  There’s somebody out there that loves being in front of the PC.  They don’t want to sell. They don’t want to talk to the customer on the phone all the time. They don’t want to manage projects or be outside. They want to be in front of the computer and they love that stuff.  Therefore, give it to them. With your training they will do a better job.

Your only chance of scaling the company is to stop doing the work that doesn’t pay you much money. Get yourself, as fast as you can, to a point in the company where you’re doing only the work that you’re the very best at, and hire other people to do the other stuff.  One of the things that I’ve come to realize is I grew up thinking that I had to work really hard, which was right. I believe in that, and I’m teaching my kids to work hard.  Get the work done, work really hard, and do things differently than everybody else. But, at the same time, you can take that too far. You can condition yourself to think that if I just work a little harder, push a little harder, then I will make more money and become successful. That’s not actually always true.

It’s taken me a long time to figure this out.  It’s more about doing the right stuff and getting as much junk out of your life as absolutely possible.  For example, when you’re not working I believe you shouldn’t be doing anything work related. You’ve got to give yourself a moment to rejuvenate, a moment to think, and time to recover.  If you’re not doing that, your business will never be great.

As fast as you can, you’ve got to be putting yourself into a place where you’re getting some time to recover, and you’re giving other people things to do.  If you’re like me, and you feel like you can just push through and work harder and therefore will be more successful than everybody else, it’s actually a bit of a hindrance. Because, then you’ll never let yourself give stuff to other people.  You’ll never let other people take things over because, one, we’re afraid that we can’t afford to hire the person.  Two, we’re afraid they’re not going to do as good of a job as us. And three, subconsciously, there’s an element of guilt with business owners and entrepreneurs when we take a break. We worry that we’re not working as hard as everybody else.

You really have to buy into the concept that number one, if you’re not working in your greatest skill, there’s probably somebody who can do it better than you.  Number two, if you’re doing something that somebody else could do for less pay, you’re wasting a lot of money and you’re slowing down the growth of your company. If you let them do it, you’ll be freed up to do something bigger that moves the company forward faster.  Three, if you’re not letting other people take stuff off your plate, you won’t have time to rejuvenate and then you’re never going to move your company forward. 

The fastest way to move the company forward is to make sure that, of the five million things you need to be doing, you’re working on the three most important right now.  You have to make time to think through what the three most important things are. Otherwise, you will end up at the end of the year and you’ll wonder why your business is only a little bit bigger.  It’s because you didn’t work on the most important, biggest activities that would have the biggest effect on moving the company forward.

You’ve got to create that time for you to think through that.  You’ve got to create a little bit of calmness in your life so that you don’t feel constant stress every time something goes wrong. You have to be strategic.  Yes, you may have other problems, and yes, you’ve got other fires.  You will deal with them, but they are not going to distract you from the big focus. I believe the only way to get to that point is to get stuff off of your plate.

It all goes back to hiring an office person. It may seem scary but nobody has ever come back and told me that they regretted following that advice.

I’m telling you, if you get stuff off your plate, your mind will be freed up, you will have new ideas, you’ll have new focus, you’ll see things in a different way, and you’ll be working on the more important stuff.  This new outlook and new freedom will allow you to create the new work that will easily pay for that new person and more.

You’ve got to get all the non-billable junk you’re doing out of your life and give it to somebody else that’s far less expensive than you. You need to be free to work on the big stuff.  Then, if you imagine a set of stairs and you’re starting at the bottom, doing all these small things. If you hand those to the person below you to take them over, it frees you up, to move up one step.  Then you’ve got these new things, and one day you realize, here’s a bunch of stuff I’m doing that I could give off to somebody else. So, you hand that off to a person in your organization or hire a new person.

Now, you get to move up another stair, and another stair, and you keep doing higher level things in the company. You have to continue to do this to break through the million, five million, even the $10 million mark.  There are all these bottlenecks that you’re going to hit, and the only way you get past them is to educate yourself on new things and then to delegate them to your staff. You will be freed up to do all the new things you’re learning to take your company to the next level.

One final thing, there’s a reason why only 9% or 10% of this industry makes over a million dollars a year.  It’s not because of low-ballers. It’s not because of too much competition. It’s not because the industry’s too hard or because it’s a bad industry.  It’s generally because you’re not working on the most important things to move the company to the next level.

We as the business owners are usually the ones holding up the ship because we’re doing too much stuff. We become the bottleneck in the company and we’re slowing it all down.

When you start to get yourself in a position where you’re no longer the bottleneck, things go faster and faster and faster.  Every time you educate yourself and move to the next level, you pass stuff on to other people and move onto the bigger and bigger stuff.  A really, really important topic.  Good luck.