Many small business owners and entrepreneurs operate as a one-person company. Especially when the company is a start-up and is running on a shoe-string budget, the entrepreneur becomes the wearer of all hats in the business.
However, when should you hire help? Sure, it’s nice to save on expenses by doing everything yourself, but one person can only do so much. Sometime you just need to bite the bullet and acquire the help you need to keep your business running smoothly, efficiently, and without clutter.
Signs You May Need an Assistant
How do you know it’s time to hire an assistant? Here are some clues you might find familiar.
Clutter – is your place of business (home or office) cluttered with piles of unorganized and unfiled papers and other materials? This is a sure sign you might have use for an assistant.
Unanswered mail – Do you have stacks of mail and email that you simply do not have time to pay attention to? Yes, an assistant could be your answer.
Unprocessed orders – Are you behind in processing orders for your products? Another body can help keep your business in the black by fulfilling sales orders.
16 hour work days – Are you working from 6am to 10pm every day? This is a sure sign of quick burnout and that it is time to hire an assistant.
Unwillingness to delegate – Do you have trouble letting other people do any task related to your new small business? While it can be tough to let go of certain tasks, the first step is recognizing you have a problem with delegation.
Hire or Temp?
One question you should analyze is whether you should outright hire a part-time or full-time assistant, or simply contract an assistant through a temp agency. There are pros and cons of both.
Hiring an employee can give you the satisfaction that you helped create a job. You also get to have full control over who you hire. However, hiring an assistant in your employ also comes with additional responsibilities, including paying state and federal payroll taxes, social security taxes, workman’s comp insurance, and paying for any benefits you choose to provide.
Using a temporary agency can be beneficial in that you don’t have to worry about all the payroll taxes and insurance costs for an employee. However, you will be paying at least 50% more than you would for an employee’s wage. Another plus is that you don’t have to fire or layoff any employees when work is slow. Simply use the agency when you need it.
However, you don’t have much input as to who the agency sends to you. Of course, as a client, you can give feedback and always ask for someone else if a certain individual does not “click” with you.
In recent years, there has been a rise in “virtual assistants,” who are freelancers who work from their own homes and assist you through telecommuting. This could be ideal if you need emails answered, online research conducted, and other tasks that are completed online. The benefit is that virtual assistants are very affordable, and since they are freelancers, you don’t have to worry about employee tax, health insurance, and other costs traditionally associated with full-time employees.
Tasks An Assistant Can Do For You
What kinds of work should your assistant do? Here are some ideas. Use this list to help determine your need for an assistant.
Filing – Need to file away correspondence, invoices, sales forms, etc? An assistant’s specialty is organizing a filing system.
Correspondence – You could even have your assistant perform some correspondence tasks, such as general responses to letters and email.
Blogging/Social Media – An assistant could be your outreach person to your customers through blog posts and social media account updates.
Errands – While a true professional administrative assistant is not usually keen to pick up your dry cleaning, you could hire a college student part time to help you do general tasks, including some driving around to help you run the errands you don’t have time for.
Specialist or General Assistant?
A general assistant can help with duties and tasks mentioned above. But what if you need someone to do more specific and specialized tasks? You may want to hire a specialist if you have a need for any of the following:
Accounting/Bookkeeping – A bookkeeper specialist can help you with your daily, weekly, and other regular accounting processes.
Marketing – Perhaps you need someone to help with general marketing functions like copywriting, brochure creation, and other areas of marketing.
Cooking/Baking – Say that your business may be catering. You may require a specialist assistant who can help prep food or perform much of the baking tasks.
Your assistant may be just a few phone calls away. Take a long look at whether you could benefit from an assistant, and make the right choice on how to cure your extra work load according to your budget and needs.