Your best tips for hiring an assistant?

in On Entrepreneurship

Folks, I need help. Big. Time.

After pulling my third 24+ hour work session in a two week span, I must hire a new assistant or two. Pronto. Right now, 95% of my work is in a home office. There would be room for a second person there … if I got rid of the hundreds of books and my precious piles of magazines, tapes and other yummy stuff. Which leads me to one of the two questions I want to put out to you…

  1. Have you had success bringing an assistant (part-time) into a home office? If so, give me the skinny — tips, tricks, what’s worked, what you’d never do again.

  2. What are your best tips for hiring a great assistant?

Now, lest you think I’m all take and no give … let me offer something back.

I’ve been posing these questions to my fellow entrepreneurs, friends and mentors for the last few weeks. I’ve received some jaw-dropping advice … the kind of things you’d never hear about unless someone close to you took you in confidence. Once I have some feedback here on the blog, I’ll combine it with the info I’ve compiled elsewhere … and give it away as a gift.

Fair enough?

Help. wink

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Anonymous November 26, 2008 at 11:11 pm

I can see that you are putting a lot of time and effort into your blog and detailed articles! I am deeply in love with every single piece of information you post here. Reading this post reminds me of my old room mate! He always kept talking about this. I will forward this article to him. Pretty sure he will have a good read. Thanks for sharing!

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2 Anonymous August 26, 2008 at 10:50 am

When I first started out for myself in internet marketing, I quickly had too much work, most of which wasn’t technical or creative – it juat had to get done.

Of the three people I initially hired, only one lasted and she’s still with me today.

Learning from these lessons, I’m now a much better judge of character and much more careful who I hire.  Working in isolation with someone who’s there to assist with the things you don’t have time for can be a recipe for disaster.

I’ve

<a >worked in London</a> all my life but I seriously thought about packing up the whole opperation a couple of years ago due to staffing issues.  They can make or break you.

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3 Anonymous August 26, 2008 at 3:50 pm

When I first started out for myself in internet marketing, I quickly had too much work, most of which wasn’t technical or creative – it juat had to get done.
Of the three people I initially hired, only one lasted and she’s still with me today.
Learning from these lessons, I’m now a much better judge of character and much more careful who I hire.  Working in isolation with someone who’s there to assist with the things you don’t have time for can be a recipe for disaster.
I’ve
<a >worked in London</a> all my life but I seriously thought about packing up the whole opperation a couple of years ago due to staffing issues.  They can make or break you.

Reply

4 Anonymous July 25, 2008 at 9:48 am

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5 Anonymous May 23, 2008 at 8:52 pm

Great article, nicely done

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6 Anonymous May 24, 2008 at 1:52 am

Great article, nicely done

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7 Anonymous February 24, 2008 at 11:55 pm

I agree with the previous posters.  You need someone you can get along with, someone motivated and work oriented.

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8 Anonymous February 25, 2008 at 4:55 am

I agree with the previous posters.  You need someone you can get along with, someone motivated and work oriented.

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9 Anonymous February 20, 2008 at 9:22 pm

I’d just make sure you hire someone who you can get on with well. If it is just you and then it is vital that the relationship is a good one so that you can get the best out of them.

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10 Anonymous February 21, 2008 at 2:22 am

I’d just make sure you hire someone who you can get on with well. If it is just you and then it is vital that the relationship is a good one so that you can get the best out of them.

Reply

11 Anonymous February 17, 2006 at 11:02 pm

A few comments
1) Keep the home-office highly professional – so no kids coming in to play when you’re at work, clean desk policy etc.
2) Keep the assistant who comes to the home office as a part time employee. Do not waste his/her time by making him/her wait for you to finish something before they get their task. Use email, voicemail and projectmanagement software judiciously to plan out work, and knowledge transfer. Basecamp is a great way to collaborate.
3) Hire for motivation and personality. The rest will come automatically.

Reply

12 Anonymous February 18, 2006 at 4:02 am

A few comments
1) Keep the home-office highly professional – so no kids coming in to play when you’re at work, clean desk policy etc.
2) Keep the assistant who comes to the home office as a part time employee. Do not waste his/her time by making him/her wait for you to finish something before they get their task. Use email, voicemail and projectmanagement software judiciously to plan out work, and knowledge transfer. Basecamp is a great way to collaborate.
3) Hire for motivation and personality. The rest will come automatically.

Reply

13 Anonymous February 6, 2006 at 10:02 pm

Years ago a famous football coach ( I don’t remember exactly who)said something to the effect of “we draft for speed. We can teach ‘em everything else but you can’t teach speed”. I hire my assistants with basically the same theory. I hire for personality. If they are pleasant, reasonably intelligent and appear willing to work hard I can teach them the rest. Also I’m a great believer in Michael Gerber’s theory that you can’t truly manage people but you can and must manage job functions. Obviously you need to start looking at what job functions you will now be delegating and even before hiring (I know you’re flooded but it must be done) prepare clear logical systems in writing of each of the functions your assistant will be taking over. I don’t have a home office but I have been hiring and firing assistants for almost 25 years and currently have 5 of them. Hope this helps.

Reply

14 Anonymous February 7, 2006 at 3:02 am

Years ago a famous football coach ( I don’t remember exactly who)said something to the effect of “we draft for speed. We can teach ‘em everything else but you can’t teach speed”. I hire my assistants with basically the same theory. I hire for personality. If they are pleasant, reasonably intelligent and appear willing to work hard I can teach them the rest. Also I’m a great believer in Michael Gerber’s theory that you can’t truly manage people but you can and must manage job functions. Obviously you need to start looking at what job functions you will now be delegating and even before hiring (I know you’re flooded but it must be done) prepare clear logical systems in writing of each of the functions your assistant will be taking over. I don’t have a home office but I have been hiring and firing assistants for almost 25 years and currently have 5 of them. Hope this helps.

Reply

15 Anonymous January 7, 2006 at 10:01 pm

I work out of both a home office and an “office” office. At the office I have a full time sales person and an assistant who are wonderful and with whom I communicate regularly via email, phone and Instant Messenger. But I too find that I wish I had a second (or third) set or eyes, ears, hands etc. But I haven’t been able to find anyone who can read my mind, and I find that I have trouble delegating while in the comfort of my home office- something I need to work on! Not to mention the fact that I do not keep regular hours, and an assistant isn’t likely going to be thrilled about my schedule, (all day any day). But as I continue my search for a good assistant, and learn to be a better delegator there are a few things that I have done well to make my home-work experience more productive. I hired a concierge service to do some of the things that I do when I am home (because I am home). Things like taking packages to the post-office and grocery shopping chew into my “work” day when I am home. Also I use this service for mailings, and even house cleaning and data entry. Because it is a service, they find the apropriate person to do the job, and I just get an invoice. I don’t have to worry about the down-sides to hiring someone (insurance, taxes, etc.) and some of the little things are taken care of. It isn’t the perfect solution, but it certainly has made my life better, and my work more efficient. Good luck. – Meghan Wier

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